Xandros 2.0 – An end to Windows? An adventure in Open source

I’m a windows user by nature, I’ve been playing around with Linux for a little while, I’m no Expert in any way but I’ve used quite a few distro’s. The first distro I ever stuck with for any amount of time Was Xandros 1.0, which a friend provided for me. Except for the fact that it ran an old version of KDE it was perfect for me, but the old KDE crippled my work. Enter Xandros 2.0.The Machine: A Gateway Solo 9300 laptop with a P3m 600 MHz and 192 Megs of ram. Running Windows XP Professional SP1a


This machine Was Running XP Pro on the whole disc, I booted from the Xandros 2.0 Deluxe disc and auto portioned out the NTFS drive and set to install Xandros 2.0 Deluxe (X2D). The installer doesn’t look much different then the one I saw in 1.0 and 1.1, with the exception of the screens talking about the new features it could be exactly the same. I chose the complete install and off it went, no hassles and no problems. Root password setup and user created. In all the setup was simple and straightforward.

Up and running?:

First boot to the desktop and … whoa… sweet stuff here. Much has been said about the icons in Xandros and they look nice! First step on my new install is connect the network card, I’ve got a Netgear Fa411 PCMCIA card, I slid in and Xandros picks it up, Connect the network card and I get online at home. Since then I’ve gone into the network configuration and set a static IP for when I am work. Xandros Networks for a few updates and we appear to be ready to roll here.

First order of business, for work I need to access and login to a specific site, this site requires Internet Explorer. Xandros provides me, Via the Crossover plug-in, a means to install IE, So I launch Crossover and I download IE 5.5. That icon looks strange on the *nix Desktop but its installed and working fine. So now I can access the site and view information, but IE is not suitable for what I need, accessing PDF files and Spreadsheets via Crossover and IE is buggy at best. I know that I can use Konquerer with a few changes in the User Agent and access everything I need with no issues. But where is Konquerer? While some people may blast me for my ignorance, I only know what I know. A quick hop online I find that Konquerer is still in Xandros, its just hidden, opening Menu Editor I get Konquerer back in the start menu as a File manager link and for web browsing. I like my icons on the desktop though so I go to the link for Konquerer “Launch – Applications-internet-Konquerer web browser” I drag the icon to the desktop where I’m given the choices of copy here, move here, Link here and Cancel. I click link here and I get my Konquerer Browser link on the desktop (with the wrong icon but oh well I can fix that). Well, if I try to run the link I just made I get an error “The desktop entry file /home/devilotx/konqbrowser.desktop has no type=… entry” errr… ok, I’ll delete that shortcut and I’ll link here instead of copy, nope… no good “The desktop entry file /home/devilotx/.kde/share/applink/Applications/internet/konqbrowser had no type=… entry” ok then, the link in the menu works fine, I just cant get a shortcut. So I right click on the desktop and I create a new shortcut to Konqbrowser and everything looks good! I click it and it starts… no wait. It “appears to start” but doesn’t open a window or anything. Oh well, at least I can get to it in the menu. A post on the Xandros Message boards leads me in the direction I need to correct the missing link issue and I’ve got a working link on the desktop, bless my windows ignorance. For those wondering the answer was to create the shortcut and then change the command in the Execute tab to read: krmclient openProfile webbrowsing.

So I don’t have lofty goals with this distro, just something smooth and easy for basic work. Had to get GAIM installed though. I figured I’d try one of the new things In Xandros networks, the ability to add sources and use XN as a front end for apt ala synaptic. I add in a new source to XN, it asks for my root password and I’m good to go, it gets the new package list and I search for GAIM, it shows up in the advanced section with a link for installing. One click and GAIM is installed and working fine. This system works similar to Lindows vaunted Click n’ Run with user customizable sources.

So I started typing up this review on my windows box running Windows 2000 Advanced Server on office 2003 and I remembered the Crossover Office, I dug up a copy of office 2000 because its most compatible with Crossover, I installed Word, Excel and Outlook with no problems, and I’m typing this out on Xandros via Crossover Office.

So there was a big to do on the Xandros forums about removing the ability to join a domain, and true to their word that feature was removed and ported to the forthcoming Xandros Business edition. I liked this feature in Xandros 1.0 but the lack of it doesn’t kill me because you can still access Domain computers. So it being missing is not the nightmare I expected it to be. I could access the word document that I created on the 2000 sever box over the domain and save it to the laptop and then continue working.

The Xandros file manger is as great as ever, and the integrated CD writing is very nice working flawlessly with a USB TDK CD writer.

There is a nice GUI for editing Lilo, setting the default OS to load, while Xandros is the default post install I preferred Windows XP being the default. Its and easy 2 second change and all is well in the world of Linux.

This is the first Linux distro that I’ve installed that makes me even consider switching my home computer from Windows to Linux. I’ve been doing about 95% of my work on Xandros leaving only mail to be done on windows. I’ve browsed the Mozilla-Mail app installed by Xandros and it looks to be well functioning however weaned on Microsoft office, I’m not ready to take the absolute plunge, I like having my work email at work.


So it’s been about 2 weeks with Xandros 2.0 and I’ve booted into windows XP twice, once to make sure it was still working and once because I walked away during a boot and Windows XP is still set for my default, I may be changing that though. I’m keeping Xandros 2.0 for a while, or at least until the Business Edition comes out as I’d like to join windows domains here at work. Xandros 2.0 is not for everyone though; heavy Linux geeks need not apply here. This is Linux for the masses, for the desktop and for the corporate desktop. This is an operating system for people weaned on windows and who want to move to the world of Linux. As a final unofficial test of sorts for Xandros 2.0 I installed it on my wife’s computer. She was able to complete all of her daily activities like email, and instant messaging with ease, and showing her how to use Xandros Networks to add in software was easy. When I went to format the hard drive and restore the XP Ghost image I created she said not to, that she liked working in Xandros and wanted to keep it installed.

I would like to thank Xenia von Wedel, Who gave me a copy of Xandros 2.0 Deluxe to do this review and test with. And I would like to thank my boss Kevin, for give me a laptop and then allowing me to install and test Linux within the company.

About the Author:
Chris Nabinger, is the webmaster of http://www.icvdforums.com and a Jr IT professional.


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