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Every distribution seems to be making choices for you these days, and Xandros is no different. Some of their choices I like, some I don't. Your own preferences, of course, are probably different. Here's what I found installed on my short-list of required applications:
My personal choices would be to replace Kopete with X-Chat, KMail with Evolution, KWrite with GEdit, replace Paint with the GIMP, and add Gnumeric without removing the OO.o spreadsheet. Never know when you might have to embed a spreadsheet in some dog-and-pony show for marketing.
Speaking of adding things, it's very easy to add software to the Xandros Desktop, even for items not included in the Xandros repository. Too easy, maybe. More on that further down.
There is a complete list of all the applications available as part of Xandros 3 at this page on the Xandros website.
Rather than recount that list here, I'll simply highlight some of the items set up in the various application menus following the installation. Accessories include various readers and viewers for fax, PDF, and other things. You'll also find an address book, text editor, and pop-up notes there.
Crossover Office gets its own menu, and there is one for Games as well. In the Graphics category, there is a paint program, Digicam, and Kooka for your scanner.
Crossover Office is going to be a big selling point for this version of Xandros, and if you have indispensable Windows applications that are on the supported list (like Quicken, various MS Office versions, and so on) it can provide you with an end to dual-booting to get them those apps.
I didn't have any of the supported applications laying around, but I did have Windows XP on the same computer. I told Cross Over Office to run Note Pad for me and it did so without any qualms.
In the Internet menu, you'll find connection wizards, a firewall wizard and control program, as well as the IM, email, and browsing tools previously noted. There is also a Voice-over-IP application and a USENET News reader.
All in all, the glass is more than half full. Yes, you can quibble about the choices being made for you, but you can't deny there is something in place for all the most common desktop tasks, and a whole lot more.
Installing your own choice of applications
I searched for X-Chat in the Xandros Network repository, but found no joy. All commercial distributions share this same quandary. They simply can't keep every version of every type of program in their repository. So the utility of a specific distribution for you often hinges on two questions: how easy it is to add the software that you want or need, and what are the consequences of doing so. It turns out that expanding the universe of installable packages is a snap with the Xandros.
Before I learned there was an easier way, this is how I added X-Chat. I modified
/etc/apt/sources.list to include the following line:
deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian stable main contrib non-free
Then (as root) I entered the following two commands at the command line:
apt-get install xchat
The first command installed the lists of software available at the repository being added to the
/etc/apt/sources.list file. The second fetched X-Chat and all its prerequisites and installed them for me. The entire process took less than a minute.
Did I say there was an easier way? Yes, and there is. It can all be done from within Xandros Networks, without having to go to the command line to run apt-get manually. Open XN (Xandros Networks), then click on Edit -> Set Application Sources, then enable the Debian Unsupported site. Once that's done, the expanded universe of programs will be available to XN to find and install.
There is a downside to both approaches, however. Unsupported software, like the version of X-Chat I installed, won't be included in security updates provided on XN. It won't be fully integrated into the Xandros Desktop, either. The same holds true for any dependencies they might have. You could add just a couple of programs but end up with 10 or 20 outside the protective scope. Just something to keep in mind. The same is true, of course, of all commercial distributions.
Speaking of XN, it's very user-friendly. To test it, I installed TuxPaint (displayed on the XN splash screen along with the pay-for items). It required that 9 additional packages be installed. The only thing I needed to do was give it the administrator (aka root) password. Nothing else.
The one word to pops up in my mind most often when I think of my experience with Xandros 3.0 Deluxe is elegance. Power and polish in harmony. It won't be the "just right" distro for some, but for a whole lot of others it just might be the one that leads them from the Land of Oppressive Proprietary Software to the Land of Linux and Freedom.
The installation is the best I've seen. Xandros Desktop OS 3 gets high marks from me for correctly configuring the built-in wireless card and the display, both without any assistance whatsoever from me. Even the installation screens look as polished as any I've ever seen.
The default installation results in a complete and highly functional desktop box. My only complaints about Xandros have to do with their software selections and their rebranding of projects.
If you are happy with applications included in the Xandros repository, this is definitely a distribution you should consider. Yes, it's easy to go beyond that repository, but as you do you risk replacing larger and larger chunks of the Xandros OS with standard versions -- meaning without the Xandros touch of fit and polish -- of whatever prerequisites your additions may require.