If you have never used Xandros Desktop Professional or Xandros Business Desktop before, this section will give you an overview of it. If you’re already familiar with Xandros, you might want to skip down to the next section, which covers the changes introduced in version 4.1.
Originally developed and sold as Corel Linux, Xandros is a KDE-centric GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian. While it offers a rich desktop environment, it is possible to use the Debian package tools to adapt Xandros Desktop Professional for a variety of different uses. Its heritage plus the excellence of its design equal an operating system that is easy to use, but powerful when necessary. Xandros Desktop Professional was previously known as Xandros Business Desktop, which has seen several releases of increasing quality over the years.
The distribution includes about 1.5GB of software, though most of that is the base operating system and “filler” — ancillary KDE software and other programs that are rarely or never used. From the included Applications disc you can install several important programs like the OpenOffice.org suite, the GIMP image editor, the Adobe Acrobat Reader, the Thunderbird email client, and more. Also included in the default install is CrossOver Office 5.9.1 Standard, which allows you to run many Windows programs inside Xandros. You’ll also find a small collection of proprietary extras: the Java Runtime Environment version 1.5.0, RealPlayer G2, and hardware-accelerated Nvidia and ATI video card drivers installed and ready to go.
The officially supported method of installing new software (and updating currently installed programs) is through the Xandros Networks framework. This consists of a self-contained program that both tracks your current software situation and informs you of other applications that you can install. It’s much like Linspire’s Click N Run (CNR) system, though Xandros Networks is not integrated into the KDE menu structure like CNR is. Lastly, Xandros Networks has a taskbar notification applet that tells you when software updates are available.
The general “look and feel” of Xandros Desktop Professional is like a cross between Windows XP and Sun Java Desktop System. It’s easy to use and navigate if you’re used to the Windows “Start menu” interface philosophy, but is limited in all the same ways. One thing you won’t find in Xandros is a high degree of clutter — the Launch menu is clean, focused, and easy to navigate. Most other desktop GNU/Linux operating systems will have up to three separate Web browsers, office suites, and email programs. Xandros, in contrast, only has one standard program for each purpose.
Desktop Professional is only one of Xandros Inc.’s GNU/Linux products. The others include two home desktop products; a deployment management server; a business server edition; and an education desktop and server edition for schools.