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Xandros Desktop OS 3.0: A Solid, Modern Replacement for a Windows Desktop - page 2

Looking at Xandros

  • January 27, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

Xandros provides a simple and easy-to-use installer that doesn't need much exploration or explanation here. Installation and system configuration are divided into separate steps--the installer simply installs default or selected packages, while most system configuration tasks are done in a First Run Wizard that, as the name suggests, runs by default the first time that you start your Xandros system.

The installer supports both standard and custom installations. Figure 1 shows the software selection screen the Xandros installer in custom mode. The standard installation (1264 MB) installs almost everything from the installation disk--the difference between a standard installation and a complete installation is less than 10 MBs, and consists of support for Novell's NCP (Netware Core Protocols) file system, the Apache Web server, and an FTP server. The custom installation option also gives you the option of installing a minimal system that clocks in at a mere 887 MB. Given these choices, the standard installation is the right default for almost everyone, given Xandros' target market of former Windows devotees.

The installer also provides various options for where to install Xandros Linux on your disk, including "Take over the Disk," dual-boot support, or simply selecting un-used space or a likely partition. Like all modern Linux distributions, it also provides you with the option of configuring your disk partitions manually. When I first tried manual partitioning (because I was recycling a random old disk containing God knows what), the installer insisted that I hadn't created a swap partition even though I had (it was the first partition on my disk). This problem went away when I moved the swap elsewhere on the disk, so this was a minor glitch but it was irritating. Figure 2 shows a screen while the installer is in progress.

After installation completes, the installer ejects the CD and prompts you to press enter to reboot your system. After you log in for the first time, the First Run Wizard performs the standard types of configuration tasks, including enabling you to configure regional settings, your system's date and time, configure printers, and select a default desktop theme.

One curious omission, given their target market, is the lack of a dialog that enables you to customize the Windows domain to which your system belongs. Not only does this mean that you have to subsequently use the Control Center to do this, but it makes it difficult (if not impossible) to configure a shared Windows printer that requires authentication. Like all Samba installations, Xandros Samba installation defaults to a workgroup named WORKGROUP, which is the old Windows default but is certainly not in use at any "serious" Windows site (if there is such a thing ;-).

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