Xandros Desktop OS Deluxe 2.5

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Xandros Desktop OS Deluxe 2.5

Bottom Line

Slick Linux distribution should appeal to non-geeks too.

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Want to give Linux a try with little fuss and bewilderment? Xandros may have just what you're looking for. We took the $129 Xandros Desktop OS Deluxe 2.5 for a spin and were pleased to find that everything just plain worked.

Installation is a snap (and in­-cludes automatic disk partitioning), and the tasks of connecting to a Windows network and outputting to its printers (almost always a chore in Linux) are as easy as on a Windows PC. You can dual boot with Windows XP and drag and drop to burn CDs from the Xandros File Manager. We also had no problem accessing Flash and RealPlayer content as we travelled the Web. In the lower-right corner is an application-launching menu, plus a taskbar and a system tray. Strange surroundings for a Windows expatriate? Hardly. Xandros provides a fantastic utility that not only handles online updates but also lets you seek out lots of goodies from the world of free software. The OpenOffice.org suite is included, as is CrossOver Office, a com­mercial product that lets you run certain Windows applications, including Microsoft Office and Photoshop.

The $189 Xandros Desktop OS Business 2.5 edition also furthers the bundle by including Sun StarOffice Suite, Citrix client software, IBM Terminal emulators, Windows PDC and Active directory server authentication and 90 days of e-mail technical support.

Not everything is perfect. Interface fonts are inconsistent between programs. Also, when we drag a file out of the File Manager and onto the desktop, we want the icon to appear where I dropped it, instead of scampering up to the top-left corner of the screen. Finally, the Xandros Control Center (think Windows XP's Control Panel) is a labyrinthine nightmare, with some 67 configuration applets scattered across nine categories.

I expect the Xandros team to add more polish to its distribution in future versions, addressing some of these issues. But as it stands, this is an excellent bridge product for people who are comfortable with the Windows way of doing things but want to move away from Windows itself.

Interestingly, Xandros has also made its Desktop OS Open Circulation Edition (with pared down features) available completely free if you use BitTorrent peer-to-peer software to download it from www.xandros.com/about/downloads.html.

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