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Xandros Desktop--Not Your Father's Linux Distribution - page 4

From Corel to Xandros

  • November 11, 2002
  • By Bill von Hagen

The Xandros Desktop distribution is aimed squarely at the desktop market, the elusive goal of many Linux distributions due to the preeminence of Microsoft Windows. Marketing discussions aside, a successful Linux distribution has to support the types of applications that people need, and if possible, support the specific applications that people are already familiar with. For Xandros Desktop, the key to this is CodeWeavers CrossOver Office, a truly amazing product that makes it easy to install and run popular Windows applications on a Linux system.

To install a popular application like Microsoft office on a Windows system, you simply insert the CD and, after prompting for some basic information, the application installs and automatically inserts appropriate entries for running itself in the Start menu. That is also exactly what happens on a Xandros Desktop system. No fuss, no muss, and no CS degree required for tuning obscure parameters. It just plain works.

CodeWeavers CrossOver Office is based on the Linux WINE (WINdows Emulation) project, and is seamlessly integrated into the Xandros Desktop. Though WINE is freely available as an open-source project, CodeWeavers has done a lot of work to improve its robustness and to make it truly easy to install "important" Windows applications on a Linux system. It supports a variety of Windows applications, primarily Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and bundled versions of these applications such as Office 97 and Office 2000 (see Figure 3).

The Xandros Desktop includes the latest version of CrossOver Office--even newer than the one that you can get from the CodeWeavers site, and I'm already a customer. Other Linux distributions aimed at the desktop, most notably Lindows, have bundled CrossOver Office, but only Xandros provides the latest, most powerful version--which is quite important in an emulator.

Xandros' integrated support for Windows applications makes it an attractive choice for deployment in commercial or academic environments. Large enterprise and academic computing sites can save a good deal of money and support costs by installing a secure, stable operating system such as Linux, as long as it runs the applications that their users need, which usually means Microsoft Office. Xandros Desktop is an excellent choice for wide-scale adoption in these environments because it costs much less than Windows and runs the applications that users need. You'll still need licenses for the Windows software that you want to run, but you won't need Windows.

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