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Xandros Desktop--Not Your Father's Linux Distribution - page 5

From Corel to Xandros

  • November 11, 2002
  • By Bill von Hagen

The primary situation in which you'll find Xandros Desktop difficult to use is if you're already a hard-core Linux user or developer. In this case, Xandros' desktop orientation will take a bit of getting used to because some of the classic Linux tools are either tricky to locate or must be separately installed. For example, even the complete, custom Xandros installation doesn't install emacs. Similarly, finding a way to start an X Window System terminal (xterm) is tricky, requiring either that you use the right-click menu's "Run Command" menu option to explicitly start one, or that you execute one from within a console session (Launch|Applications|System|Console). You can add an icon for an xterm to the panel, but it was disconcerting for it to be such a hassle to start the application that I most commonly use in Linux.

I noticed a few minor problems when using Xandros over the first weekend I spent with it. When I used the Express Install to automatically install the Standard Desktop, the version of /bin/ps that was installed wasn't executable--even the file utility reported it to be data (i.e., a random binary) rather than an ELF executable. When I reinstalled the Complete Desktop using a Custom Install and downloaded all of the updates using , the Xandros Update utility, /bin/ps was fine. The X Window system hung once, to the point where the system wouldn't respond to a three-finger salute (control-alt-delete). I had to reset the machine to get it working again, but this never happened again.

Some aspects of Xandros' default configuration and application categorization also seemed a bit odd to me. The default run-level is '2', which is generally un-used and didn't seem to differ from runlevel '5', which is what I expected. GIMP was missing from the standard install, which I found odd since it's one of what I would consider the "standard" Linux desktop applications. SSH isn't started by default, though the ftp daemon is. Similarly, given Xandros' desktop orientation and great Windows Integration, I expected some support for "standard" Linux VPN software such as IPsec or pptp--no such luck.

Xandros also takes a simple, straightforward approach to the KDE versus GNOME religious war--GNOME isn't there, and it isn't available even as possible updates from the Xandros site via the Xandros Update utility. Enough of the GNOME libraries are present to run bundled application such as Evolution, Ximian's excellent mail client, but that's about it. While GNOME fans might lament this Boolean approach to resolving Linux's favorite desktop debate, it does simplify things.

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