Xandros launches free version of its desktop Linux

Upstart Linux vendor Xandros has made a free version of its Linux desktop distribution available to noncommercial users to encourage its proliferation on computers around the world.

In an announcement Wednesday, the company said its new "open circulation" edition is available to all noncommercial users at no charge. But it won't provide support for the software.

"We want the Open Circulation version of the Xandros desktop to replicate like a virus," Frederick H. Berenstein, chairman and chief technology officer of Xandros, said in a statement. "Open computing is coming of age, and every desktop user should know that there's a full-featured Windows alternative out there, and they're going to love it."

The Xandros Open Circulation Edition includes an office suite, e-mail client and multimedia capabilities. The operating system can be installed with a dual-boot option to run alongside Windows XP.

Also included is the Opera Web browser 7.50 from Opera Software, marking the first time that the Opera browser has been included as the default browser in a desktop Linux distribution, according to a statement from Opera.

The Xandros desktop operating system software uses a version of the browser that is advertising-supported, said Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's co-founder and CEO. "Users will see a small banner with the advertising, so it won't be obtrusive."

The software can be downloaded from the company's Web site and can be copied for distribution.

Xandros was founded in 2001 and is based on the former Corel Linux distribution, which Xandros purchased from Ottawa-based Corel Corp. in 2001. The company is seeking to become a large player in the desktop Linux market as an alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating systems.

Xandros claimed that its operating system is compatible with most Microsoft file formats and isn't subject to any Windows viruses that are in the wild.

(Laura Rohde contributed to this story.)

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