Xandros Desktop 4 Professional

Xandros 4 Professional tries to set itself apart from the majority of popular Linux distributions in two ways. First, by making the installation and administration procedure as simple as - or simpler than - the best free distributions. Second, by integrating commercial software offerings into its package management system.

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Xandros Desktop 4 Professional
  • Xandros Desktop 4 Professional
  • Xandros Desktop 4 Professional
  • Xandros Desktop 4 Professional

Pros

  • Makes a number of tasks more friendly than usual for Linux

Cons

  • No liveCD, not free, trial version very limited, not many packages available in Xandros Network store

Bottom Line

Xandros will no doubt offend Linux purists, both by the tight integration of commercial software into its business model and by the lack of features such as Gnome. On the other hand, for a Linux newbie who wants a Windows-like experience, it may make a reasonable choice.

Would you buy this?

The Xandros Network is a very interesting component of the distribution. It combines a number of functions that most distributions keep separate: package management, updates and news from Xandros. The package management component, where you install new applications, looks pretty much like that for any other distribution. However, the update section is another place where Xandros has gone for a Windows look and feel, with highly readable descriptions of the updates, divided up into security updates, normal updates, driver updates and service packs (yes, Xandros has even borrowed the Service Pack nomenclature from Microsoft).

One thing that Xandros offers that most distributions don't is a store, integrated into the Network, that lets you purchase, download and install commercial Linux software.

Unfortunately, there really aren't that many packages available — the store mainly offers the pro version of CrossOver and the StarOffice productivity suite, along with Xandros' antivirus software.You can also purchase a Xandros Network Pro membership, which lets you download a number of interesting games and tools.

The current Network may become irrelevant, however, due to the Linspire purchase. One of the major reasons that Xandros gave for acquiring Linspire was to integrate Linspire's Click and Run (CNR) technology into Xandros. CNR offers a much wider variety of commercial software as well as the usual open-source fare, and is available on multiple distributions, including Fedora and Ubuntu. As of this writing, CNR is still not available for Xandros, despite an announced July 2008 date, but we would expect it to become available soon.

Xandros is an unabashedly commercial distribution. Unlike Linspire, which has a parallel Freespire project, Xandros has no free version. The trial version is just that — it starts shutting down after a half-hour once you've reached the end of the 30-day trial. If you decide to buy, you currently have only one option: You can purchase the Professional version for US$99, which includes the distribution, the Xandros Network package and 90 days of support. (If you're a nonprofit, incidentally, the company allows unlimited installations for nonprofit use.) And if you're looking for a single desktop edition? At the moment, you're out of luck; Xandros has discontinued its $40 Desktop Home Edition. However, according to a company rep, Xandros will release Freespire 5 in late October and a new Business Desktop version in November.

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