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Xandros Desktop OS 3 Deluxe Edition

By Joe Barr on December 30, 2004 (8:00:00 AM)

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I've been running the recently released Deluxe Edition of Xandros Desktop OS for the past week on my IBM T40 Thinkpad. Xandros 3 has proven to be all that I hoped for, and more. This release should prove a good fit for many, combining the ease-of-use and elegant good looks that Xandros brings to the table with the underlying power and stability of Debian.
Application Choices

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:

  • IRC chat - a rebranded Kopete
  • Email - KMail
  • Browser - Mozilla
  • Text editor - KWrite
  • Word processor - OpenOffice.org
  • Spread sheet - OpenOffice.org
  • Image processing - KDE Paint
  • Digital Camera - Digicam

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 update
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.

Conclusion

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.

 

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on Xandros Desktop OS 3 Deluxe Edition

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software choice

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 03, 2005 09:12 PM
I'm wondering: what would bring the replacement of KWrite by GEdit? If it's only because it's a GTK program, it would have been better to not even mention you don't agree with the choice of software. If you have a better reason for prefering Gedit, please share it.

Good article, apart of the fact you insist on your disagreement with the choice of software, which is really a question of personal taste.

Raph

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Re:Disk Error on Install

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 14, 2005 12:49 PM
You probably burned your XandrOS CDs at too fast a recording speed. You should burn the CDs at no faster than 4X recording speed. Also, make sure your checksums match up.

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Re:Opera browser and Dual Boot Screen

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 08, 2006 10:36 AM
I run Xandros and XP on a dual drive Machine MSI 6367 board.The Xandros boot screen offers Normal boot,safe video,expert,and Windows XP if you squint you can see here <a href="http://www.ataglance.co.za/xandros_Startup_screen_shots.htm" title="ataglance.co.za">http://www.ataglance.co.za/xandros_Startup_screen<nobr>_<wbr></nobr> shots.htm</a ataglance.co.za>. If you want to install on the same disk I suggest you go to the Xandros forum site and search for "dual boot" <a href="http://forums.xandros.com/viewforum.php?f=4&sid=fc823d7771b1d6800773843c888d58ce" title="xandros.com">http://forums.xandros.com/viewforum.php?f=4&sid=f<nobr>c<wbr></nobr> 823d7771b1d6800773843c888d58ce</a xandros.com>
A bit late but I hope this helps

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xandros-3.0 D

Posted by: Administrator on January 03, 2005 12:16 PM
I have used many different linux distributions, but xandros-3.0 is "the" best i have so far used.



The maturity of the os is unmatchable. if only other companies like Intel, linksys, hp, etc start writting drivers for their hardware along with the pc drivers they come out with, then windows will have a real contender for its market.



I have installed it on my dell desktop and compaq notebook with smc wifi card and it works great on both hardware.



DVD works great after installing couple of libraries from the xn



I hope Xandros gets more support from hardware vendors to put their os as "the" desktop os of choice.



-GGR





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Re:xandros-3.0 D

Posted by: Administrator on January 03, 2005 05:03 PM
I just put Xandros 2.0 on my Compaq 1500C and I use a mouse pad but Xandros does not recognize the mouse pad. Would switching to Xandros 3 perhaps solve that problem??? I mean when you installed it did you get more than a mouse foto???

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Linux Newbie

Posted by: Administrator on January 03, 2005 03:52 AM
I am relatively new to Linux (years ago I played with Red Hat 5.0) I download Xandros 3 about two weeks ago. I set it up to dual boot with my XP partition, incredibly easy to do!

So far I'm lovin' it. Biggest problem - can't get file extensions to work. Trying to change my default browser from Mozilla to FireFox. This seems to be a bug (At least according to the unofficial Xandros Users forum) because I have been able to change other types of file extensions, media players, etc.

Now if I could only find a way to make my old Intel USB Pro webCam to work! Everything else is great!!

- Jeffegg

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Beware of MSI mobo problem.

Posted by: Administrator on January 05, 2005 02:56 AM
The installation would not work on my PC (desktop). It would just reboot in the middle of the install. I have an MSI MS-6728 mobo, which has dynammic overclocking capability. I tried a BIOS reset to default values and I still couldn't install X3. I nearly gave up trying and was about to ask for my money back, when I tried ENABLING the dynamic OC...voila! It worked (though I have no idea why). I informed Xandros tech support of the problem, but I doubt anything will be done about it.

After the install, all was well<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:) and life is good! And hats off to Xandros tech support guys. They actually got VMware 4.5.2 running on X3 in about 10 days. And now life is REALLY good!

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Opera browser and Dual Boot Screen

Posted by: Administrator on January 16, 2005 02:55 PM
I'm going into the world of Linux and excited. I've been running XP Pro for a couple years. Two questions. 1. What does the dual boot screen look like after I install Xandros and does it need to be on a seperate (slave) partitian.
2. Can I run Opera browser or will I need to stick with Mozilla. I also run Firefox but I'm a die hard Opera user! Thanks for the great review Mr. Barr.

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Disk Error on Install

Posted by: Administrator on January 18, 2005 02:29 PM
I tried installing Xandros 3 deluxe onto my XP pro PC. I tried both an express and custom install but both times I get a disk error problem. I reboot and run "chkdsk" and had no error on hard disk. I am running Norton Systemworks 2005, is there a conflict with Xandros and Symantec?

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Xandros Desktop OS 4 Desktop Edition

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 144.138.188.20] on January 27, 2008 05:26 AM
I am thoroughly disappointed with this distro. All the blurb said it was easy to install as dual boot - but my first trial was with Vista and it completely removed any possible of my accessing Vista (not actually a bad thing! but I had been hoping for Dual Boot.) Anyway, having bit the bullet and tried to install it as a sole OS - the DVD drive refused to read the DVD - even though it had been okay under Vista.

Anyway, I then found out that Vista causes problems with dual booting so decided to install it on my main XP machine - it went through the whole process without a hitch until reboot. Now, the rows of ''01''s marching across the screen are iconic of 70s sci-fi movies, but not what i wanted. But I had learned my lesson and had made sure i could get back to XP. I did so.

Having given up on Xandros, I now have a very nice installation of Mint. Not as nice as Xandros promised ... but at least it works.

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