I looked for the famous firewall wizard but to no avail. It does appear in Xandros Networks client but has no link to initiate the download. Strange. I simply installed and used Firestarter.
There is functional, if unspectacular, multimedia software included, basic players for CD, midi, mp3, and many video formats. Noatun is the default media player but lacking many of its available plugins. Now where are amaroK? Also, RealPlayer is included, but not Quicktime or and WMV codecs. And encrypted DVD playback is missing too. This may be a disappointment to some.As every Debian aficionado knows, there is a wealth of software for Sarge available free from various Debian repositories around the world, but hard as I tried, I could not manually set application sources in the Xandros Network manager. Some other options in the menubar were disabled as well leading me to feel this more of a crippled demo. Manually entering sources and toggling expert mode uncovers the treasure-trove of free software, though I don't know how many Windows refugees would bother learning to do so. OCE may leave you stuck with what's available from Xandros Networks, but for the casual user it seems adequate. As every DThe Xandros File Manager is functional, attractive and clones the Explorer experience quite well. It is the perfect application for its mission and is clearly what makes Xandros special. Intergrated CD burning would be a bonus if not throttled back to 2X and sans DVD capability. And since K3B, the killer burning app for KDE, is not available through Xandros Networks, you would want to upgrade.
Pop in a music CD and it starts to play; jam in a data CD or a USB stick and XFM opens with contents listed. This is very good functionality expected of Windows users and reflects the careful thought put into the operating system. However, all these features and polish seem to come at a price as the entire system feels sluggish when compared to KDE/Sarge on the same gear. I wouldn't recommend OCE on a lesser machine.
My overall impression is of an operating system built for a purpose, with ease of use, networking power, and ability to run critical MS software aimed to attract users of Window particularly in the corporate environment. Home users may be disappointed by the austere apps, the limited repository, the lack of eye candy, and annoying subtle marketing. Next to other community releases like Fedora, OCE feels like a crippled demo. As a power user, I can easily unlock its potential but at the risk of breakage. The huge binary repositories and infinite up-gradability, hallmarks of Debian, are largely lost because Xandros does not fully embrace Sarge.
Aesthetically speaking, OCE is a mixed bag. There are conflicting toolkits and redundant functionality. It's not near as polished as, say, Mac OS X and lacks the personality of Ubuntu. I suppose it's a matter of quality control and kernel stability, as Xandros must focus on their target audience and turn a profit. However, aside from the aforementioned qualities, there isn't a lot that makes Xandros stand out from the growing crowd of Windows clones. If you otherwise like this release, I would recommend at least ante up for the Deluxe version. Compared to its contemporaries, it is worth the coin.So, would I recommend Xandros 3.0.1 OCE to my Grandmother? Sure. It's one of the slickest out-of-box Linux experiences I've seen and offers so much potential simply being based on Debian. In fact, I played with it for several days and you can see the screenshot of my pimped Xandros desktop. I safely added Synaptic, amaroK, K3B, replaced Noatun with Kaffeine, and installed a bit of eye candy too. You know, it's really quite acceptable once you add Sarge repositories.
About the authorMy interest with computers can be traced back to the eighties, but it wasn't until the late 90s when I began hobby building and selling PCs. Two years ago, and after eons of fighting with MS' finest, I switched to Debian and haven't looked back. I also casually write fiction and decided to combine skills to promote the cause. I am a family man and reside on Canada's east coast..
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