Xandros Server: Pre-Packaged Power, Centralized
YALS--Yet Another Linux Server?
The software used to configure, maintain, and administer an operating system is an effective measure of both its popularity and its maturity. The system administration tools used by acolytes and devotees are typically very different than mass-market administrative environments designed for by IT personnel for whom the administration and use of a specific operating system may be a job rather than a calling. Similarly, packaged operating system distributions that provide a complete, manageable, and supportable enterprise solution make a statement that an operating system and associated services are quite literally "open for business."
The latest product from Xandros Linux, traditionally known for slick desktop Linux distributions, combines an out-of-the-box, enterprise-caliber Linux server solution with a graphical console for centralized system administration that combines the kinds of bells and whistles desired by cult members with the ease-of-use needed by everybody else.
Xandros' announcement of a server product was greeted with an interesting combination of silence and skepticism by the Linux community, myself included. Companies such as Red Hat and SUSE currently own the Linux server market. Up-and-coming distributions such as Ubuntu offer a server distribution, but even the recent Dapper release still features many desktop-oriented tools in the server product. This can be a convenience but can also be a distraction, requiring a certain amount of overhead for both storage and use, while bringing separate maintenance requirements that are outside the pure server domain. Xandros Server focuses on server software and the graphical environment and associated tools needed to configure, monitor, and manage them.
Xandros Linux is well established on the home and business desktops, providing separate products for each of these markets. Xandros Linux is a descendant of Corel's Debian-based Linux distribution, but has continued to evolve as a stable and well-though-out Linux distribution that is sensitive to the simplicity and usability requirements of home and business desktop users.
Xandros' in enterprise administration requirements first surfaced with their Xandros Deployment Management Server (xDMS) product (previously reviewed on LinuxPlanet), a distributed installation, deployment, and configuration management tool for system administrators. xDMS makes it easy to create standard but site-customized distributions that can easily and repeatably be deployed across all of the systems in a business or academic environment. Xandros' development and championship of an easy-to-use server distribution therefore should not come as that much of a surprise. As we'll see throughout this review, Xandros has created a powerful, easy-to-use server distribution with an impressive selection of servers and am excellent, centralized administrative interface. The rest is up to the marketers.