Xandros is preparing to release the business edition of their popular Linux desktop distribution. Here’s what we found out so far about this new product.The product uses the same installation method as the desktop version and it works extremely well. I believe that Xandros has one of the best, if not the best, installation procedures today for any Unix.
It comes pre-configured with KDE 3.1.4 and you will very soon (about 15-20 minutes later) have the desktop up and running ready. There is not much new to say about Xandros BD as it is very similar to Xandros 2.0 and we already had countless Xandros 2.0 reviews. However, a few things under the hood have changed and more bugs are fixed (the build date was March 3rd).
The distro comes with the applications an office would need, like an Office suite, email clients and web browsers, Xine for multimedia, CrossOver for MS Office compatibility, fax, PDF and graphics tools and more. The Xandros tools, in addition to KDE’s control center, allow for monitor resolution settings, networking and wireless, while the Xandros File Manager can write CDs with the ease of drag and dropping. Additionally, the File manager can “automount” printer shares, samba and NFS shares, other CD devices while the “Switch User” is also as important in the business world as it is on a home.
Xandros Networks is also a very nice feature which allows users to download software off the net (with no dependency nightmares for the user). At the time of the testing, the special channel for Xandros Business Desktop was down (preparing for launch) so I could not further test it.
The main differences between Xandros Deluxe and Business Desktop are:
Business desktop: Authenticate against Windows Primary Domain Controllers (PDC) and Active Directory Servers
Deluxe: Peer-to-peer Windows networking only
Business desktop: Star Office 7 with Sun support
Deluxe: OpenOffice.org 1.1
Business desktop: Kernel 2.4.24
Deluxe: Kernel 2.4.22 (will be updated too)
I only encountered two major problems with Xandros Business Desktop. First, the Display Properties panel which wouldn’t work with the integrated SiS 740 graphics card (it was stuck to 1024x768x16bpp@60Hz while my monitor could do 1280x1024x24bpp@85Hz) and any effort to change the resolution would result to either a hard lock or an /etc/X11/XF86Config file full of blanks (and after that point I could only boot to fail-safe mode). To get to the settings I wanted I had to manually edit the XF86Config file at the end. Mandrake’s v10 had no problem at all with that PC to automatically detect the monitor and the right driver and best settings.
The other problem I encountered was the low reliability of the Crossover plugin. I think IE 6 is on the list of the supported apps, but it would crash every time there was a popup ad on a page… Other than that, the default font used on Crossover is terrible, difficult to read, and has nothing to do with the rest of the OS (should have being a way to easily change this instead of hardcoding it on a font that ugly).
I felt that the only software missing is a good collaboration tool, like KDE’s Kontact or the new Ximian Evolution 2.0. I hope future versions will include such an advanced messaging and collaboration tool.
Overall, this product is a good office solution, it has the most needed software in place and it works well as I experienced no crashes or any other malfunctions. I believe that Xandros should start seriously knocking doors in Canada and establish their product as an office solution the same way SuSE was able to achieve in Germany. After this initial step, getting more office users worldwide will be easier in the long run, but I believe they should first start this office business in the home country first (proved easier also for Mandrake and Red Hat, not just for SuSE).