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Easing Into Linux With Xandros Desktop OS 3.0.2 - page 2

Review Quandries

  • February 23, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

Xandros offers media people a 30-day downloadable trial review copy of their desktop OS. The system will only run for a half hour after the 30-day trial period is up, then it shuts the machine down. Version 3.0.2 is the latest and is based on the 2.6.11 kernel.

After popping the CD into the drive and booting, installation was straightforward.

The installation program detected almost everything. It identified the Nvidia GeForce 440 chip and the companion 1280x800 HP wide screen. Unfortunately, no amount of tweaking would make the video work right. As with other reviews, the HP's wide screen was scrunched over to the left with a big black band on the right side. I tried downloading the Nvidia driver, but the error message said that the kernel was not set up for this module.

On a hunch, I hooked up a projector to the external monitor port. The wide screen still didn't work, but the image on the wall was great. That's funny because under SUSE 10.0 the latest Nvidia driver (64-bit) works fine on the wide screen, but everything goes blank when I try to use a projector. Go figure.

As I might expect, the Broadcom 802.11b/g (BCM4306) chip was detected and unsupported.

After about 30 minutes of work everything was loaded and I added a new user, configured the mouse, and set the time.

Following a reboot I plugged a D-Link DWL-122 802.11b network fob into one of the USB ports and clicked the Xandros Network item under the Launch button. I set the network configuration to use DHCP and WiFi came up without a problem. Who needs Broadcom, anyway?

I also went through the on line update refreshing Mozilla-Firefox and a few other applications.

Xandros comes with a basic set of applications, but the menus don't seem to show everything. For example when I checked the Xandros Network Installed Applications list for XMMS, it showed it was loaded but I was unable to find it under the Launch button menus.

Make sure to turn on the Expert mode setting under the Xandros Networks -> Settings menus, otherwise you'll sit there wondering how to find packages that you need. It was a little confusing too, that check boxes on the installed application menus weren't clicked even though the programs were installed. To me, the box should be unchecked, if it isn't installed.

One feature I liked was the firewall wizard under the Internet menu. You get menus for incoming and outgoing traffic. Simply check the boxes on your desired services to control the access to the ports. Simple and easy.

I was pleased to see that my Gyromouse USB mouse and the Glidepath mouse pad both worked right out of the box. As you would expect, playing a commercial DVD movie with Xine didn't work due to licensing issues. SUSE has the same deal, though.

Overall, Xandros has a nice installation setup and most things pretty much work out of the box. For ease of installation, I'd say it was a good choice for the beginner Linux user.

Now we have the quick lowdown on running Xandros on the fire breathing HP Athlon 64. How did it work when I swapped the "test" 60 GB drive into my retired 300-MHz no-name laptop?

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