posted by Ross Edwards on Fri 2nd Apr 2004 19:32 UTC
IconWhat happens when a user moves full time to Xandros? How the technical and third party software support works out of the Canadian Linux distro?

I have been using Xandros for a few weeks now and recently I have had to use it as my sole machine. There are some good things to it, but don't sue it if you plan to do anything with it outside of basically what's installed. Oh, and dont even think of looking for anything more than basic support.

I'm a programmer by trade and have used windows 2000 mostly but for various reasons have wanted to move over to Linux. I like to play around with technologies but I am not what you would call a hacker and cant compile a kernel to save my life nor do I want to.

That said I have been somewhat dissatisfied with many of the major distributions out there. They all seem to be "windows" like without actually being useable and most have seemingly left out the power user completely. By windows like I partially mean by look and feel but I also mean not having to deal with dependency hell and having to scramble around looking for patches.

So I began installing a few distributions. I started with Red Hat which didnít work for me then tried SUSE which was ok but also didnít do it for me as did mandrake. Thought I'd tried something more for "power" users like Slackware and couldnít get it to install which bothers me because I've read of many people saying how easy it is and how great the OS is. Tried Gentoo and didnít get anywhere with it.

So in my frustration I just kept looking. I wasnít really all that into Lindows and in truth I had forgotten about Libranet. I also tried Debian and couldnít figure out how to get that going either.

Then I read a few reviews of Xandros and liked what I saw. I picked up a copy of the version with Crossover Office installed and went to work.

First off the installation is lickety split and is on only one CD. It installs the basics which I liked as I donít use most of the other things that are usually installed on Linux distributions.

The first thing I noticed was the nice layout of the interface. They use KDE and donít include gnome which is a gripe of mine and something they need to change. But that said this is the best looking KDE I have seen. A big part of this distribution of course is the Xandros File Manager (XFM) which is very good at what it does.

At first this was only a temporary system and a windows 2000 machine was my main machine. Unfortunately just a few days ago I had a hard drive failure, which was impending and the reason I was looking to switch to a new system, however when it finally happened it also took out the motherboard so now I have been stuck with Xandros as my main system.

As I went through the transition I was very impressed with many aspects of Xandros. They just work. There were some small issues I had such as not finding an adequate development environment but that is more a Linux issue than a Xandros issue. I also have an issue though with the speed of the distribution. It's darn slow and slow to react to anything you do.

Another big aspect of Xandros is Xandros Networks which is supposedly their online software repository. At first I thought this was very cool and it does have some nice features. I was able to download MYSQL off there very easily and let Xandros deal with dependencies and the like.

However as I started needing to use it a bit more it became very annoying and actually very confusing. Thereís also just not much on there. And the files have no version or dates on them so you have no idea what you are installing and unfortunately in the world of Linux and windows as well code can change quite a bit from version to version.

Now being that this is the version with crossover I played around to see how it would work. I use myself and donít need MS Office installed but I wanted to see how it worked. So I installed Textpad which I am actually writing this on now. It installed fairly easily and it was nice because it showed up in the menu system.

However this functionality has little to do with anything Xandros did and in fact Crossover has rather limited functionality. Yet Xandros on its site claims to have "unparalleled" windows compatibility. Huh? I donít think so. What they should have done is gotten VMWare or even Win4Lin on the system and optimized it for this distribution.

In fact I tried to install a trial of VMWare and thatís when the bad feelings towards Xandros began. Actually they began before that when I tried to install something which need the gnome libraries and ran into dependency hell.

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