Opinion: A User’s Journey to Linux Concludes on Xandros

Before I add ‘my’ two cents worth upon the current heap of Xandros reviews, let me introduce myself… rather my Linux self. I am a noobie. Perhaps not such a newbie as a newbie could be since I have been playing with and learning Linux since ‘Corel Linux’ (1999-2000?). Before Corel I’d purchased a copy of a 1998 Turbo Linux in a discount store and was beyond elated to find something to mess with.

Note: This article was written by a simple user who decided to have a journey in the Linux land, not an experienced writer, so please excuse the “themes” used in this article.

Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of osnews.com

However at that time, I knew absolutely nothing. I was a pre-noobie and I could never get that sucker installed. Partition what? What’s all this dialog? Swap what? Ah! Feeling defeated, I flew the surrender flag and went back to Windows. That is until I met Corel Linux. Then things began to happen. I guess you could say she really turned me on. She installed so easily! That jubilation lasted for just a short while after realizing I still knew nothing. But that was my monolithic Linux moment. I could install it. I was IN!

Xandros - Click for a larger view Shortly after and by the Grace of the internet Gods, I discovered high speed cable connection and at the very same time a friend gave me Red Hat 6. An updated Corel was no where to be found…. My new Network connection and my Linux leanings lead me to a Linux nirvana, otherwise known as the magical land of ‘Distrowatch’. In those days :), in the before time, Distrowatch had on the top of its page by default what seemed like a million little Linux distro icons yelling and screaming “Pick me!” and “Try me!” and “Download me a lot!” and “I am the prettiest most handsomest looking icon-thingy so I must be the best, me me me me! Phew! I almost had a heart attack. And I sought many, tried many and made many coasters along the way (if your a noobie a “coaster” is a failure to burn an iso or anything properly to cd, resulting in nada, zilch no boot-a-rama! A Coaster for the drink you make after). And not to yap about any distro for too long here are a few with sound-bites impressions. And please don’t write me about the ones I’ve left out, I’m writing this on the fly. I promise to get to Xandros eventually.

Okay, not necessarily in cronological order…

Red Hat: Was one of my first real Linux experiences. Meaning I got it installed πŸ™‚ Somehow through all the versions from 6 to 9 that I’ve tried have left me wanting. I think 8 was my favorite. After losing Grub which always gave my system agida, and getting 8 setup, it was damn stable and I would find myself getting bored(which isn’t Red Hat’s fault I know). And my noobiness never helped because I still don’t know what half of the package lists really are/do?, I’m just pretty good now at recognizing what I should have installed for this application to work.

ELX: was exciting for me because it was full of stuff! And I didn’t have to install anything. It was the “Candy Store” of Linux distros. I loved the ELX Launch Pad. Yet ELX was also a bit broken, slow and I had more crashes in ELX than any Distro I think. The truth is many Distros just a couple of years ago were crashing all over the place. I practically never see that bomb exploding image any more. Saw it in Xandros though and I’m sure I deserved it. ELX also appeared abandoned, so as with any good noobie adventurer I left that cute Dolphin and…

Libranet: was, fun. Frustrating because I couldn’t get the current then/now release without paying for it. The older “free” download version worked well enough and many reviews attest to Libranets wonder to this day. But because I have not been willing to lay the cash down and because I knew whichever version I had was not the “newest” one I couldn’t take it I tell ya! I just couldn’t…and I’m not sure I like the name Libranet. Sticks on my palate…I did very much like their administrative controls though…

Beehive: heard great things but never got it to install.

Debian: The Debian with all the cds I also could never get it installed back when I was more of a noobie then now. So I gave up. Also there was no KDE for what seemed like forever and I got to know KDE. I was getting to know my way around KDE. Gave up on Debian until “Knoppix” changed my world.

Icepack: always wanted latest version but there was never an iso for the latest one. Left me wanting so I left, I couldn’t take it!

TurboLinux 8: It was okay. Installer looked cool. Different menu layout… other than that, not for me. Not sure why.

Mandrake 8.2-current: Can’t exactly say why but I have never felt comfortable with Mandrake. Installs okay, but always had trouble messing with fstab and other stuff. And I do like to mess with things. If I can’t mess with things, I can’t take it!!!! I like to mess with things! One of the main reasons for leaving WinXP was control and what I had to tweak to get it back. And you’d think after all this Linux time, Mandrake could get a handle on their menu layout. Am I wrong or is it just me??? I like Mandrake, but not enough to stick around.

Now I digress. You see it isn’t just about stability. It’s about color, wallpapers, little tweaks, fast installs, cutting edge wonder and kde-look.org…I’m rambling, but we all noobies and beyond know there is a “thang” happening with Linux. It’s like a revolution and an evolution. Unlike Windows, we are a part of the evolution process and with a little knowledge ‘we’ can change its course or simply sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s a marvel to behold! It’s also a terrible thing because I never seem to settle down to actually use my computer. I’m always installing a new distro or trying to tweak it to the point of breaking it. And then there’s a new release and another and with improvements…I’m such an addict…

Gentoo: I’m too newbie to get it installed. Pisses me off big time! I’ve tried and failed on several occasions. Maybe one day.

Yoper: Fun for a day.

Conectiva: means well. First fell in love with “Crystal” icons with Conectiva. But always felt it was a little broken or something.

Xandros - Click for a larger view Lindows: Where do I begin. When I first heard about lindows it was to be the greatest thing coming. Yeah, windows apps on Linux…skip ahead to some apps using a Lindows tweaked wine… skip ahead to regardless a pretty darn good system over all. It gets things to work other distros don’t. I continually have trouble getting my Digital Camera to work in other distros. Especially in user mode. Lindows plops you in the command chair of root, so the camera just works. Linux permissions can be such a pain. Even after all these years I’m still a bit lost. The CNR package management system works very very well. My biggest problem with Lindows is a picky one. It leaves so much out of the original install that I have to click n run up my ass. And for a tweak like me who re-installs a lot, that is a royal pain. And I’m upset that I bought “win4lin” from lindows and not Netraverse. Take my advice and buy the cd set. Otherwise you will not be able to use win4lin with any other distro. Lindows uses a key embedded into CNR. Aside from that it’s a great Debian distro. Not easily tweaked so who needs that πŸ™‚ And there’s no Kuickshow!

Knoppix: I’ll keep this short. I love Knoppix. It was my first Debian experience after my failure to install the Debian Debian. Has lots of great programs ready to go. No great update tool, but it installs so fast that it doesn’t much matter. Tweaked fstab. Had it set up to be my one and only distro, until…

MEPIS: Sometimes it’s the little things I say again. MEPIS has a sweet and simple install process. With Knoppix you have to enter prompt mode and go text install from there. Not complaining. Once you know the “how to” the install is a breeze. MEPIS though takes it one step further and goes grapical with a nice repair Lilo option. And I mean that is important. And an option to save your files on a re-nstall, invaluable. MEPIS frightens people by being based on Debian unstable and all I can say is it seems pretty darn stable to me. And if it weren’t for Xandros’s file system and my ever changing need for exploration I’d still be using it. And MEPIS has kuickshow! Kuickshow is a tiny picture viewing method that I absolutely addore. Not gonna tell you why πŸ™‚

Xandros: Xandros, Xandros Xandros. Why am I here writing about and ending with Xandros. Why is it special? I don’t think it’s all too special. Codeweavers feels tense. Explorer seems shakey. Can’t access maestro on myswa through Internet Explorer, so wine/weavers is ho hum still. Xandros is sparse in applications as Lindows is. The menu however is nice and clean and simple. The look reminds me of Corel and I feel warm all over. Some of Corel is still visible today. Changing your screen resolution which still can be difficult in other distros, Corel/Xandros has had working for years now. My favorite thing though about Xandros is the file system layout. No tweaking to get it working. All my drives are right there. Windows drives, linux drives all accessible with a click of the mouse. Yesterday I made three coasters trying to burn isos using the Xandros cd burning feature…I did succeed though and shame on me I think my problem was I was clicking too fast!

Okay, but here is why I say Kudos to Xandros. Bear with me. First, no kuickshow. I need kuickshow for my picture viewer. Kuickshow isn’t listed in xandros networks. I decided to tweak Xandros. I changed the apt sources list to:

# Unstable
deb http://ftp2.de.debian.org/debian unstable main contrib non-free
deb http://ftp2.de.debian.org/debian-non-US unstable/non-US main contrib non-free

posted from another Xandros review. I ran: apt-get update from console. Then: apt-get install synaptic

Then ran synaptic and did a system upgrade just too see hee hee. Went through a lot of changes and selected default for most if not all of the prompts. Rebooted and expected it to fail as had Lindows πŸ™‚ But to my surprise I saw my “Cottage” desktop wallpaper and before that the KDE wizard indicating I now had KDE 3.1.5! It doesn’t get much better than this. I opened the console and typed:

apt-get install kuickshow

It gave me the option to install and I did and it did and I installed koffice and here I am with a cutting edge unstable Xandros that allowed me to tweak it. I love that! Lindows wouldn’t allow me to install kuickshow without breaking it. And still being a noobie, if there is another way, I don’t know it.
And I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention tons of things. But Kudos to Xandros for allowing me to upgrade however irresponsible that may be. And after said upgrade, much of our default KDE is back in the menu and Xandros is there as well. The wonderful file system is there… they are coexisting… ehh, as far as I can tell.

Gotta have a sense of humor and as “Distrowatch” says… “Put the fun back into Computing. Use Linux.


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