Mini Interview with Xandros Executives

Today we feature a mini but interesting interview with Xandros executives, Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein (Chairman & CTO) and Ming Poon (VP of Software Development). Read on for more.

Q1. Laptop sales are set to slowly overpower in sales desktop systems. How important is it for Xandros to offer good support for laptops and engineering-wise, how easy/difficult is to support every bit of a given laptop hardware configuration? Does Xandros uses extra patches for better laptop support?

Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein: Laptop sales are indeed expected to overtake desktop sales in the next few years. Since laptops usually cost more than comparable desktops their respective revenue streams are, in fact, currently even. It is very important for Xandros to offer great support for laptops and desktops.

Ming Poon: All editions of the Xandros Desktop OS provide complete support for both desktops and laptops. For example, if you have a laptop without a built-in CD-ROM or floppy drive, you could install a USB, PCMCIA, or Firewire CD-ROM or floppy drive ever since Version 1 of the Xandros Desktop OS. Most of our competitors have problems with this kind of ‘bare bones’ laptop but it is a breeze for Xandros users. Some of our desktop users don’t have built in CD-ROM drives in their desktop systems either. They can take advantage of this feature and install from their USB CD-ROM drive.

Another example is power management. In laptops the power level is automatically detected by our hardware detection engine, and a battery indicator shows up in the taskbar. The indicator won’t appear if it is a desktop system, so things work for both laptops and desktop systems from the same CD.

Many of our users have both laptop and desktop systems, so this means that they don’t have to pay twice to get comparable functionality for both platforms. Our goal is to continue to make our hardware detection engine smarter and generalize things so the same CD will fit both the desktop and laptop world.

Q2. How was Xandros 2.0 received from the customers worldwide so far? Does it sell better than Xandros 1.0 and how would you place Xandros in terms of Linux market share today? (E.g. Red Hat is no1 with about 40%, SuSE/Debian/Mandrake second with ~12-18% each etc)

Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein: Xandros 2.0 has been received enormously well everywhere we are selling it – here in the U.S. and Canada, overseas, and in Australia. It has already received at least a dozen great reviews and is selling at six times the level that version 1.0 was during the same time period. Although I am not sure of the exact percentage, Xandros 2.0 is probably tied for third place in terms of market share.

Q3. Which was the biggest business and engineering challenge with the development of Xandros 2.0?

Ming Poon: We did not run into many business development challenges as many other ISVs and technology partners were very eager to work with us. The only challenge was to set stringent standards for selecting our partners. We
spent a lot of time in evaluating a many software packages from potential partners to make sure that they were ‘ready for prime time’ with desktop users before even considering them for our software bundles or Xandros Networks offerings. In a number of cases we gave feedback to the ISVs and continue to help them address the issues so that we can move forward with them. We want our users to have quality time with Xandros and we certainly don’t want them to waste a lot of time in downloading tons of junk that does not measure up to the Xandros experience. To us, quality matters more than the quantity that you can find in some fee-based Linux software warehouses out there.

On the engineering front, one of the biggest challenges in V2 was to come up with the design and implementation of our built-in CD-Writer software in XFM (Xandros File Manager). We wanted to have a very simple and intuitive interface that my mom could use, yet make sure that we did not lose any advanced features for power users. We burned through literally tens of thousands of CD-Rs in the development and QA cycle and went through hundreds of different CD-RW models together with our large beta testing group. In the end, I think that we make everyone happy. With Xandros, we make sure that you get quality products.

Q4. What kind of Xandros-specific software (like Xandros Networks) are you going to develop for the next Xandros version to differentiate your product from the competition?

Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein: We intend to continue to develop Xandros Networks and greatly enlarge the software available through it. You will also be seeing improvements and new features in the Xandros File Manager. And we have a number of extremely exciting software applications which we will add to our product stack which will be exclusive to Xandros.

Q5. There was supposed to be a free Xandros demo for users to try your product out. After this was announced some months ago we haven’t heard about it again.

Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein: Although we had hoped to have it available by now, it is still definitely in the works…


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