June 23, 2006 12:27 PM PDT

Windows-friendly desktop Linux launches

The latest version of Xandros desktop Linux has arrived, continuing the operating system's mission to welcome Windows users--a mission that's led some in the Linux community to dismiss it as "Linux with training wheels."

Xandros 4.0, the first version of the operating system in 18 months, includes features to read and write Windows-formatted drives and import user settings from Windows installations. It's based on v3.1 ("sarge") of Debian, with improvements from the Linux Standard Base (LSB), thanks to the DCC Alliance's Common Core.

Xandros' distinctive feature is its effort to carve out a commercial niche as an easy replacement for Windows. "The target audience of Xandros is primarily corporates looking to switch their workstations from Windows NT/2000 to Linux," commented one user on a Debian discussion board. "They've gone to great lengths to mimic the look and feel of Windows for this reason."

The OS includes Paragon Software's NTFS for Linux, which allows users to read-write to Windows-formatted drives, so they can add the operating system and still have access to work they did in Windows.

It includes the WINE-based CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers, an emulator that allows users to run Windows applications. It also imports settings and data--including e-mail, photos, desktop sound and music--from Windows XP and other versions, using Versora's Progression Desktop.

For consumers, the basic Home Edition costs $39.99. To get full versions of the Windows immigration programs, users will have to pay $79.99 for a Premium version. Users of earlier Xandros versions can upgrade for less money. The Premium version also caters to iPod users, with a music manager based on amaroK, and includes a photo manager, improved wireless connectivity and better security.

A business version, Xandros Desktop Professional, is coming in September, with support for Active Directory, multiprocessing and hyperthreading support. It will also have a centralized control application for enterprises, called Xandros Desktop Management Suite.

The OS has the KDE 3.42 desktop interface, and the usual open-source applications Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice. At the other end of the scale, a free version, using only Xandros code and GPL code from others, is also planned.

Although several Linux desktops are bidding to replace Windows, they've made only small inroads. The Xandros team believes the way to change this is to start from where users are now.

"It's not intended for intermediate Linux users, or Linux users who enjoy the bleeding edge, customizing their OS, or learning all the intricacies of the powerful Linux operating system," commented one discussion board user. "It's for people who have work to do and want to get it done with as low a learning curve as possible."

Peter Judge of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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Interesting but too basic?
Too consumerish for the diehard Linux community? Maybe. Some may actually want this though.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/166/42/" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/166/42/</a>
Posted by mystereojones (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Move
Getting people to switch from windows is easier said that done. Though Windows XP has tons of flaws that seem to get patched weekly, people are familiar with the interface, the layout and the look and feel. Give Microsoft credit their fonts, icons, buttons, etc. all look smooth and polished - that is where Linux and programs like Open Office have been lagging. Programs like Firefox and Thunderbird seem to recognize this and have cleaned up their interface and polished things up - with the availability of the Themes individuals have really cleaned up the look &#38; feel.

Would I pay to switch to Xandros? Probably not, I have tried Linux and still find to many gaps in basic software programs that I use on a regular basis to make me switch... yet.
Posted by guynamedalex (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Live CD
So now it's possible to use a live CD to bypass all Windows security?
It's time to encrypt data...
Posted by egarc--2008 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's always been the case
...but then, a small install of, oh, Windows NT on a thumb drive could do that too (and is a lot easier to conceal than a compact disc).

Welcome to the world of the paranoid security-concious sysadmins. :)
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
old trick, slighlty newer dog
not only has this been possible for years. There have been Live CDs available for years that allow you to make registry and password changes on an installed Windows system.

NTFS support is not new, but there is a difference here. RedHat, SuSe, and the like do not ship with NTFS write support as it has always been considered non-stable and experimental. Xandros is using a commercial ntfs module from Paragon to avoid this problem.
Posted by dw003f (2 comments )
Link Flag
Umm, I can do that right now in RedHat
This isn't anything new - the NTFS filesystem modules have been out for literally years. RedHat doesn't include it in its default distro because it uses proprietary components. I only installed it because sometimes I get a thrashed machine to fix that has NTFS formatting on its drives, so I find it useful, but only in that regard.

It is useful to folks switching from Windows to something else (say, a dual-boot setup or a new machine where they want to recover backed-up data to their new Linux box), but once you have everything switched over, it's about useless IMHO for those who don't do tech work.
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
As For Home Computer Users...
As for typical home computer users, Linux will be irrelevant until it comes preinstalled on HP, Dell, etc., computers.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
For linux to succeed you need lot of marketing support
Xandros linux or other linux distributions will make sense in these scenarios

1) Have old hardware and cannot upgrade to windowsxp, but need security and reliability. I wonder how well linux multimedia software will work with outdated hardware.

2) If you are hobbist and want to use/like linux, then you have lot of free distributions of linux (feodora, ubantu linux etc).

3) You are able to get hardware without windowsxp and you want a linux OS, then paying $79 for premium edition makes sense.

I wonder how many fall into above three scenarios. Most people ugrade machines because, they want speed or hardware has failed.

When you buy pc with windowsxp, the reality is the windowxp for manufacturer costs only $30 to $50 for home edition and consumers never pay actualy retail value for the windows OS (Which is anywhere between $90 to $300).

If you are concerned about security, reliability, looks of pc and functionality, then Mac OSX is the best option.

Windows Vista may be a option - however, it is not yet in the market. In my opinion because of all these xandros may not see much success.

I do not know if one license of xandros linux will allow users to install it on multiple machines. If this is the case and user is not interested in mucking around the internals of OS or customization the os, then xandros linux can benifit the entry lever user.

Enough of my rambling.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Marketing Support?
George, you very obviously haven't seriously checked out any of the information about Xandros.

Xandros is working fine on Pentium II's all the way up to "modern" multimedia computers. Windows requirements are certainly far more strict/exacting, and that doesn't seem to hinder their marketing at all.

Xandros is a working person's distro; you install it and get right to work. If you are a hobbyist, there are plenty of ways to go in that venue, but Xandros is designed to allow people to make the switch from Windows and get right to work...and it delivers.

MacOSX is not more secure than Xandros. We could start with the Dashboard on Mac OSX, for instance, and then continue from there... Certainly, OSX is more secure than Windows.

The free Linux distros do not come with Windows-to-Linux migration programs (commercial software), CrossOver Office (commercial software), real support, a real and useful manual, etc. You get what you pay for.

Last, you can install your purchased copy of Xandros on every single computer you own.
Posted by justwally (32 comments )
Link Flag
Forgive me, but I had to smile.
"If you are concerned about security, reliability, looks of pc and
functionality, then Mac OSX is the best option. "

You mean, as in everything that is of any importance to a typical
computer user? :) OS X all the way.
Posted by Tui Pohutukawa (366 comments )
Link Flag
I have read that Xandros can be installed up to 10 times, without any access to Xandros HQ.
Posted by BSinton (65 comments )
Link Flag
read-write to Windows-formatted drives?
Since when is this a new feature? MS doesn't allow users to read other formats, but I have been able to read/write to Microsofts ancient file systems since I first started using linux in 97.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Full Writing to NTFS is New
I can read and write to FAT filesystems, but Microsoft's default, NTFS, can't be written to as effectively in the Linux 2.6 kernel.

The 2.6 kernel can write to NTFS, but cannot create new files, nor can it extend the size of existing files --- so I feel it is not a very useful writing capability.
Posted by bluemist9999 (1020 comments )
Link Flag
Most distros are extremely user-friendly
Suse 10.1 is very easy to install and use, even for newbies. Same for other major distros like Red Hat. The difference is that these ditros are also great for tinkerers as well. Linux is a great choice for people who no nothing about computers. It is simple to install, has everything you need, lets you decide what you want, and spyware, viruses and worms are not a problem. It also has excellent documentation, unlike that pile of rotting swiss cheese from Redmond.

Give Suse a try, it is rock solid, good looking, and very easy to use.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about 3rd party software?
I'm reminded of the movie Field of Dreams where I hear "If you build it, they will come." But in the movie, it took more than just building the baseball field. You have to bring people to the game... in this case 3rd party companies to linux. I fear that the open licensing agreement is scaring them off as much of the software they write is proprietary. How do you solve this problem?
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
This Business Model Won't Fly.
The pricing is too close to Windows. A non-geek consumer would just buy Windows and no hassles with a new operating system.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No hassles in windows?
If you do not count the very real threat of hacks, spyware, viruses, trojans;or the privacy violations of MS, and all the associated BS then yeah, no hassles from MS.

Or you can install an OS that is simple and fast, and lets you get right to work without ever getting in your way or causing security concerns.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
The Business Model is Doing Fine
Their business model is doing fine.

If you check out the Xandros support forums, you'll suddenly become aware of the amazing number of Windoze users who are switching every day.

The entire point of Xandros is that there are _no_ hassles in switching. A five-click install automatically resizes the NTFS partition, installs Xandros, and then installs the boot loader for switching between the two OS's (or however many OS's you might have on your system).

The icing on the cake is that you can install Xandros on every single computer that you own. Windows can't do that. In fact, Windows can't do any of this.
Posted by justwally (32 comments )
Link Flag
Xandros 4 Premium is a Winner
I just installed and checked out Xandros 4 Premium, and it is definitely delivering what it says it will.

I am well pleased with this release.
Posted by justwally (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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