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KDE GUI Linux Business

Interview: Xandros and KDE 206

Posted by michael
from the gimme-a-k! dept.
Fabrice Mous writes "The Xandros Desktop OS is known for their intuitive graphical environment that works right out of the box. Their polished desktop product is based on KDE. The KDE News website had the privilege to talk to Rick Berenstein, Xandros Chairman and CTO and Ming Poon, Vice President for Software Development about Xandros and their products and the relationship between Xandros and the KDE project. Without further ado ... enjoy the interview!"
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Interview: Xandros and KDE

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  • by manavendra (688020) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:50AM (#9084248) Homepage Journal
    I had a quick look at the Xandros OS screenshots, since I hadn't heard of it before (sheepish grin).

    Most of it seems to be an exact replica of MS look and feel - the same start button, the task bar, task trays, heck even the colour variations!

    Why is this deemed "intuitive" then? Isn't this just another attempt to replicate MS experience on another OS? Or am I missing something?
    • by Gilesx (525831) * <gil AT foresightlinux DOT com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:53AM (#9084285) Homepage
      "Why is this deemed "intuitive" then? Isn't this just another attempt to replicate MS experience on another OS? Or am I missing something?"

      Actually, you'll find that the KDE desktop project in general is very much like this. It's always seemed to strike a rather uneasy balance - the look and feel are mainly based on Windows, yet the icons seem to be more Apple like. This is going to be very confusing indeed for a migrating user.
      • by manavendra (688020) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:58AM (#9084357) Homepage Journal
        Exactly my point. I fail to understand this whole OSS need to make a desktop, an interface and file manager that "just looks like MS!". Why is is to?

        Or is it that they all accept deep down that MS has an interface that's hard to top?

        • I suspect it is a failure of the imagination.
          The whole "docking bar" concept comes from Apple. MS copied it for Windows95 and bloated it badly, then the KDE people copied it from MS.

          Personally, I prefer the active desktop of fvwm/mwm/blackbox where your menus are wherever you don't have a window and otherwise stay out of the way. It is an older concept than the docking bar, and I consider it superior. So good, in fact, that MicroSoft has finally gotten around to copying it.

          • Maybe MS did copy all its bits from somewhere else - but you have to agree they did something that others didnt - be it packaging, product placement, or just the whole look and the feel.

            MS wasn't as big always as it is now, so as and when they came out with newer versions they did make things easier and more predictable (thus familiar) - better than any other competitor.

            And if MS copying others was so bad, why is OSS copying it now? Where does that leave OSS then?
        • Or is it that they all accept deep down that MS has an interface that's hard to top?

          That's got nothing to do with it, if they were to copy the best interface it would be OS X's, not MS's. They copy MS to avoid confusing Joe Sixpack MS user when he gets pushed onto Linux. Personally, my desktop doesn't look like Win or OS X, it's built around popup menus and SuperKaramba and it's better (in my mind at least) than either of the aforementioned.
        • by SoTuA (683507)
          I think it isn't "an interface that's hard to top" as much as it is "an interface that everybody is familiar with".

          For instance, if I try to teach two groups of people (one has experience with the QWERTY layout, the others don't know any) touch-typing with Dvorak keyboard layout, the class that is familiar with the QWERTY layout will have a harder time than the class that is seeing a keyboard layout for the first time.

          (that's from a mental standpoint, the people who have worked with QWERTY obviously ha

          • by manavendra (688020) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:26AM (#9084735) Homepage Journal
            ...as much as it is "an interface that everybody is familiar with
            I perfectly agree. But lets stop and think how this "familiarity" was bred, and nurtured. Someone at sometime did came up with an OS no matter how buggy it is, which suddenly made a computer usable to common man. No longer had one to be a geek, or intricate knowledge of what's stored where, or what a filesystem is or how to execute commands or hell! even the notion of "executing" something - nothing was required.

            You just bought a computer, switched it on and you have frienly icons that let you play games, or use your word editor or your spreadsheet or pretty much anything that an average Joe needs.

            I personally don't care much about what MS copied and from who. Even with all this copy and paste, they glued it all together successfully enough for new users to come on board without too much fuss.

            The only thing that brings a tinge of sadness is the attempts to make a system look like MS interfaces. Sure, it would be familiar and would make a user less scared to migrate, but why not think of a better UI? We all rant about things that MS got wrong and the superiorities of *nix over MS - why not apply all that to UI's as well? Hell, there are already so many things that ppl dont like in the newer version - the whole control panel sucks, the start bar leaves a lot desired and everything takes more clicks now than ever before - why not improve on that? Why not think of say, a 3D inteface?
            • I completely agree. The problem lies in that making good UIs is way way harder than doing good software.

              And my gripes with windows never were with the interface :) Although I felt quite comfy when using OsX...

              The copying saddens me too. One thing is to copy what they have gotten right (love or hate it, MS has had years of experience with that) wich is one of the premises that has made Linux great: we copy from Unix (Hi darl! :) what is good about unix... but to make the UI look just like Windows? :(

            • "We all rant about things that MS got wrong and the superiorities of *nix over MS - why not apply all that to UI's as well?"

              Because most of the time people, when confronted with a different UI, shreak and complain about how they'll never use it because it requires them to learn too many new things.

              Change has to be gradual, but familiarity has to be maintained. When I show people Konqueror's split panes, they panic. Over the course of a few days to a few weeks, they learn how to use it somewhat effective
        • Or is it that they all accept deep down that MS has an interface that's hard to top?
          Or maybe that Apple's is hardest to top of all, and that's why Microsoft is trying to copy it. [pcmag.com]
        • Exactly my point. I fail to understand this whole OSS need to make a desktop, an interface and file manager that "just looks like MS!". Why is is to?

          It's only an "OSS need" in your imagination. There are 100s of OSS desktops. I'm currently using twm (don't ask) and last week I was using enlightenment (also don't ask). Neither looks anything like Windows. You're looking at one of the many OSS desktops, noting similarities to Windows, and generalising that all OSS desktops are clones of Windows. That's

        • I think you're wrong. OSS desktop projects that aren't overly driven by corporate interests evolve in directions that suit the needs of those who program them. So in KDE you see an environment that the KDE devs find comfortable. If it looks too much like another desktop for your tastes, then use something else.
        • Posted AC originally but I thought it needed better visibility...

          The biggest reason for look-and-feel cloning is to make migration from Windows, with it's 98% control of the desktop market, to Linux as pain free as possible.

          Besides, imagine trying to sell off the idea of Linux migration to a Fortune 500 company saying that "Oh, yeah, you'll have to retrain all of your staff who will be using the new Linux installation because we feel our WM and Desktop environment is cooler/slicker/13373r than that Window
          • Exactly. We haven't even had a windows partition for a couple of years and I was suprised to see my wife use the famous blue "e" icon to launch firefox from her gnome desktop the other day. I had forgotten I originally made it for her way back when firefox didn't even exist. That single icon was the only thing she balked at when we made the switch to 100% Linux.

            My wife probably has more time on a Linux desktop than half of slashdot readers. She gets frustrated at how "clunky" Windows is when she has to u

        • Exactly my point. I fail to understand this whole OSS need to make a desktop, an interface and file manager that "just looks like MS!". Why is is to?

          When you're playing catch-up you need to encourage people to migrate. To do so, you need to make them feel warm and comfy.

          Once you have the market share can you really then go off at a tangent and change things. People are more accepting then.

          Of course, you could go off in a tangent now, and forever remain a niche OS with patchy hardware support.

      • [blockquote]This is going to be very confusing indeed for a migrating user.[/blockquote] When I attempted migration from XP, icons were not a problem at all. Seriously, a trash can is a trashcan whether it's silver or translucent, either way it's function is obvious.

        What is distinctly LESS obvious is how to install programs simply and easily. Attempting such a sisyphean ordeal will no doubt end in scouring the net for dependencies that are dependent on other dependencies that conflict with the dependencie
        • I have to wonder if Linux developers have missed the fact that a computer is supposed to run arbitrary programs. It seems that every distro is competing on how much software they can pre-bundle, because it's damn near impossible to do an "easy" install of anything.

          To RPM, DEB, Apt-Get, EMerge, Yum, etc. fanboys: Online software catalogues are still bundling. I can't get commercial software out of the online catalogs, can I? And I certainly can't sell my database tools that way. So please don't even start w
      • While some may disagree with me, the basic layout for the current Windows "look and feel" was actually in OS/2 back in the early 90's when Windows 3.1 was out.

      • It's "intuitive" in the sense that Xandros is marketing to current Windows users. If you know how to use the Windows interface, you won't stare at Xandros and wonder what you're supposed to do next.

        Similar reasoning lies behind KDE, Gnome, etc.

        Interface designers do not live and work in a vacuum. The Windows interface exists and establishes the skills and expectations of most computer users. It would be foolish to design a commercial interface that ignores that.
      • You are wrong here. The default KDE install does remind one of Windows, but it can be easily configured to work almost exactly like you want it, including the look & feel of MacOS, NextSTEP, or whatever tickles your fancy.

        The windows thing is for people who are new to it. I keep it for my guest user, as they find it less confusing than my usual setup.

        I think some people really don't know how configurable KDE is and are too lazy to click an icon and set it up. Hence all the windows bitching.
    • by manavendra (688020) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:56AM (#9084317) Homepage Journal
      heck let me shamelessly reply to myself and throw in another question:

      It sure is good to replicate a user's experience of the most widely used OS (if not the most popular), but wouldnt innovation demand doing something that it doesn't already provide? Why not invest the same collective OSS impetus and skill in building a UI? Given the OSS track record, I'm positive such an initiative would not only beat competition, but also come up with an interface that user's will find more easy to use and adapt.

      Couple this with the *nix platform, and only then shall we have a wide acceptance and use of the OS that we all so love and promote!
      • The problem in adaption is not when an interface is VASTLY different to what the user is used to - users can actually adapt to new interfaces fairly rapidly. What really throws spanners in the works is half backed clones of interfaces - ie. a Windows 95 interface that looks like the original, but does not FUNCTION the same way as the original - even down to the little thing, as menus not displaying the same options you'd expect to find in the native interface.

        In my opinion, this is why KDE are barking up t
      • It sure is good to replicate a user's experience of the most widely used OS (if not the most popular), but wouldnt innovation demand doing something that it doesn't already provide? Why not invest the same collective OSS impetus and skill in building a UI? Given the OSS track record, I'm positive such an initiative would not only beat competition, but also come up with an interface that user's will find more easy to use and adapt.

        1) I don't think Xandros is claiming any great "innovation", just superior pa

        • You say they don't have any real innovation, but read this article [consultingtimes.com] about XFM, the Xandros File Manager. It replaces Konqueror, the browser and file manager, which I have been less than thrilled about. It does have some great innovation. Some of its features have been created before separately, but it integrates them in great ways. It auto-mounts all removable media types, Samba shares, NFS file systems, etc. It also detects and shows local and remote printers so you can use them without having to separ
      • In case you hadn't noticed there are numerous desktop environments out there for Linux. Some/many of these DEs are nothing like Windows and have clearly stated that they will never implement Windows look and feel or features. The fact is that there are DEs that are very Windows like and there are many others that are not. Some of those are very unique and innovative.

        Yet, we see a recurring theme of desktops that are Windows like. This is "market" driven. The fact is that the vast majority of PC users want
      • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:24AM (#9084710) Homepage
        Bing! http://www.jefraskin.com/ points to a user environment which, although unfamiliar, is much easier to use. For example, the system NEVER discards your keystrokes. If you're pointing at a piece of read-only text (e.g. somebody else's web page), typing at it forces the cursor to slide over to the end of the read-only text. So if you just walk up to your machine with somebody's phone number in your head, you can just type it in without caring what context you're in.

        For another thing, you never have to save anything in The Humane Environment. It autosaves (with undo!) for you.

        For another thing, you don't have to start programs in THE. You access your data, and it takes care of starting the program that manipulates the data.

        We can do this all, and we can do it long before Longhorn comes out.
        • For another thing, you don't have to start programs in THE. You access your data, and it takes care of starting the program that manipulates the data.

          I understand the point behind document-oriented interfaces and all that, but it is really, extremely annoying when it is shoved down your throat. Like those programs which register themselves for everything under the sun and you have to get them out of the way to use your favourite program.

          Some webpages I want to edit in Quanta. Some I want to do in vim. So
      • Why not invest the same collective OSS impetus and skill in building a UI?

        Heck, while we're dreaming, why not build *two* FOSS desktops?! We could call one "GNOME" and the other "KDE". That would be awesome. ;)
    • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:15AM (#9084558) Homepage
      Jef Raskin says, in The Humane Interface, that people misuse the word "intuitive". In the context of user interfaces, they mean "familiar".
      -russ
      • I would respectfully disagree with Mr. Raskin. Familiar is all well and good, but they should be discoverable above all else. Even if it's not familiar, the interface should be very accessible, users should immediately know where to go next, or have an obvious starting point to locate features (start menu, menu bar, etc).
    • I see it as a kog in migration. It goes something like this:

      Phase 1: All Windows w/Windows apps, no FOSS
      Phase 2: Windows w/some FOSS (mozilla, gaim, OOo)
      Phase 3: Linux w/Windowsish interface w/FOSS and perhaps Wine or similar ..
      Phase 4: Full FOSS desktop with native apps

      While I currently have a full FOSS desktop, many people I work with (sys admin) are around a Phase 2.. Its getting close to moving many of them to a phase 3 setup .. When that time comes, they will already be familiar with the mozilla icon
    • Most of it seems to be an exact replica of MS look and feel - the same start button, the task bar, task trays, heck even the colour variations!

      Maybe it is done to make users used to using windows feel more at home with Linux. I just don't see the point. It isn't windows, it won't (natively) run windows apps. If you want your OS to look like windows and you want to run windows apps, then why not just use windows?

      What kind of message do distros like this put out to non Linux users? When a non Linux user at
    • Their polished desktop product

      I will not knock Xandros, for I think it is a good thing they're out there, and also a good thing any time a Windoze user makes the switch, but the person writing this blurb for /. should have a lobotomy. 'Polished desktop product'? Perhaps it looks good to a Microsucker XP freak, but anyone previously exposed to something more tasteful will find it downright 'FUGLY'.

      Xandros is not 'polished'. It might be better than XP, but then again most things are. OSS continues to suffe

    • I've been using Xandros exclusively for almost two years, and I live at my PC.

      I think the Xandros idea is to provide a user interface experience that seems comfortable to people who have been using modern graphical user interfaces. They want to ease the transition to Linux for the average users (not just /. geeks), and I think they've done a good job.

      Xandros doesn't exactly mimic Windows, but there are a lot of similarities. I think they picked the best elements of Windows and the Mac, and added thei

  • At (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AbbyNormal (216235) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:51AM (#9084254) Homepage
    $90 a download, I'm not sure really what they have that other distributions don't? I think they have simplified a few processes (look and feel of the desktop) a little for the average user, which is fantastic, but most of which is in some form or the other on other distributions.
    • Re:At (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stomer (236922)
      CodeWeavers CrossOver Office and Plugin makes it able to run any Windows compatible applications on Xandros Desktop.

      That alone could justifiy the cash for the average user to be able to make the switch.

      Not for me or you, possibly, but for the average joe, compatibility is key.
    • I think one of the most telling points in the interview is their comment that KDE needs a unified media player. (Presently, there are various players that all behave slightly differently, with overlapping functionality etc.)

      Their philosophy seems to be that choice may be good, but something that Just Works is even better.
    • $90 is for the Deluxe edition, with Crossover office and a 350 page user guide

      The standard is $40, but doesn't come with Crossover.

      How much was a different boxed distro again?

    • I installed Xandros on my IBM Thinkpad T40 a few weeks ago, and love it. Before that I had Gentoo installed, and spent several days trying to tweak the configuration for accelerated 3D in X (the T40 has a sweet Radeon) and getting my CD-R to work properly.

      When I installed Xandros, and did one upgrade / update using Xandros Networks then rebooted I had almost everything on the laptop working perfectly. I could play Tux Racer at full speed, and burn CDs without any trouble. I installed MS Office 2000 and
  • Xandros (Score:4, Funny)

    by DotDavid (554558) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:52AM (#9084269) Homepage
    I went to Xandros once, then clicked my heels and ended up back Gnome!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:52AM (#9084270)
    There is nothing "intuitive" about Windows-based interfaces.

    They're merely familiar!

    • "The only intuitive thing in the world is the nipple, everything else is learned."

      That said, expecting most people to delineate the difference between intuitiveness and familiarity in a PC-based GUI is a grand act of self-delusion. I mean, how many people don't know the basic difference between there, their and they're, as well as how to use them?

      As for familiarity, I don't think emulating Windows is a bad idea when your other options are the CLI or a UI standard that doesn't exist amongst Linux vendors.
      • "The only intuitive thing in the world is the nipple, everything else is learned."

        This is a very popular quote, and while it is valid as a warning against confusing the familiar with the intuitive, it isn't accurate.

        As any developmental psychologist, psycholinguist, or cognitive scientist -- not to mention any parent -- could tell you, there are many other things which are intuitive. Speaking and walking to name 2 examples. I don't have time to find you links (I should be working :-/) but some search t
    • Such statements only hurt OSS. There's plenty intuitive in Windows, and the sooner we duplicate those the better we are.

      By the same token, there is plenty that is non-intuitive too, so we should steer away from those.

      As they say, know thy enemy. That is the rational think to do.... hey wait, this is /. never mind.

  • You don't need to buy it. Just compile Debian Sid and buy Codeweaver you really need the Microsoft 'familiarity'. It's alot cheaper and Codeweaver actually develops 'stuff' and support WINE. Unlike Xandros that just resells stuff and doesn't give back to the FOSS community.
  • switch users (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brysnot (573631) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:56AM (#9084322) Homepage
    One of those screenshots shows a dialog to switch users. Has that been incorporated into any other distros desktop? I love that feature of XP. Makes it easy to share a single computer with the wife.
    • I just start my gf's gui on tty7 and mine on tty8 (there's prolly a better way to put that!), then switch between them by hitting ctrl-shift-f6/7.

      The only difference is that I don't have to move my hand to the mouse to change ;-)

      Justin.
    • SUSE 9.1 has it too. Plain KDE only offers a "Start New Session" menu entry if properly configured, but no user switching (you have to use Ctrl-Alt-F7, Ctrl-Alt-F8 etc.).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:57AM (#9084333)
    ...after that, it's all learned.

    -- attributed to Bruce Edigar
  • konqi (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Krafty Koder (697396) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:57AM (#9084341)
    sorry xandros , but kde without konqueror just isnt kde. i'll stick with mandrake...
  • by geneshifter (411883) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:58AM (#9084350)
    Why the heck are we still focused on emulating windows right down to the exact contextual menus? Why not try to strike out on a new path.

    I use OS X and I love it, but I also love mu Suse and I have always thought that a good GUI (ahem...not like windows) could launch linux into the stratosphere. Why spend time and effort "creating" a GUI that is already in use???

    C'mon, don't waste your talents for another second!
    • That is Xandros's diceision. Other distros have their own ideas. KDE in its raw form does not look like Windows at all.
      • Well, default KDE has a taskbar, with a menu and a system notification/applet area. If that's not all-but identical to the Windows Taskbar/Start Menu/Systray setup, I don't know what is.
    • "..effort "creating" a GUI that is already in use??"

      General Acceptance and ease of use for people new to Linux? If a corporation could easily just drop this into place, without having significant training to their end-users, this could be conceived as a Godsend. I'm not suggesting that Linux needs to conform or try to take over the entire desktop market, but for the majority of linux users who would LIKE to see Linux run in their workspace (officially), this is definetly the way to go. Hook-em then wow
    • Why the heck are we still focused on emulating windows right down to the exact contextual menus?

      For one because however quirky they are still better than what Linux offers.

      As well, we would be better off first fully catching up to Windows/MacOS and then striking off on a better path. That way OSSers get to benefit from somebody else's efforts, just like Microsoft learned from others.

      C'mon, don't waste your talents for another second!

      Actually what you have is a severe case of NIH syndrome.
    • by abelsson (21706)
      I've noticed that all those people that cry "But they're just emulating windows" never make any concrete suggestions on how a superior desktop would look like. Just a thought..
    • If you're going after a market dominated by Windows, you try to make it look like Windows. People aren't terribly good with new and unfamiliar things. Don't believe me? Try standing sideways in an elevator while everyone else is facing forward. People around you will get uncomftorable...the same way they will if there's not a "start menu."
  • Dreadful Interview (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Finuvir (596566) <<rparle> <at> <soylentred.net>> on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:01AM (#9084397) Homepage
    Why do people have such difficulty conducting interviews properly? They ask "Could you tell us somewhat more about the work that Xandros has done to integrate KDE in their products?" and the answer has all this stuff about XFM. Then they completely ignore the talk about XFM and move on, only to come back and ask "In the Xandros Desktop OS there is an application called "Xandros File Manager"[XFM]. Can you tell us a bit more about it and the technologies it support?" later. Did they just write down a list of questions and not probe the interesting answers?
    Okay so maybe they just sent a list of questions and published the list of answers they were sent back, but they really should have tried to integrate this stuff into a decent flow. It reads very badly.
    • I think most tech journalists consider an interview to be a list of questions that you e-mail to someone. Then you print their answers with the questions. Of course that's not really an interview at all but an outline for an article that you want someone else to write. Unfortunately, the idea goes almost unquestioned in tech news outlets *cough*Slashdot*cough*.

      Something I've noticed with techies: They're very demanding about getting technical things right and go to great lengths to be accurate. They're mo

  • by discogravy (455376) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:02AM (#9084400) Homepage
    I have heard that Xandros is the only linux distro that does NT authentication and that it is some non-free component ... if any users can confirm or deny that (and how well it works), I'd be happy to hear about it.
    • by pyros (61399) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:46AM (#9085029) Journal
      I have heard that Xandros is the only linux distro that does NT authentication and that it is some non-free component ... if any users can confirm or deny that (and how well it works), I'd be happy to hear about it.

      Thanks to Samba [samba.org], which has been around since long before Correl first released the linux distro which would become Xandros, any distro can authenticate to an NT domain, also to an Active Directory domain. It can also act as an NT domain controller, but not an Active Directory domain controller. Xandros probably just has some slick tool to configure it. Red Hat has a slick config tool for it in Fedora and in Enterprise. I'd have to assume that Suse and Mandrake has a slick config tool for it too. It's certainly possible that Xandros uses something else, but it's not a feature unique to that distro.


    • Xandros 1.0 (late 2002) would interface to a Windows network easier than a Windows box would. They removed automatic primary domain controller authentication when they created Xandros 2.0, launched early 2004. You can still authenticate, but it's a brief manual operation. They retargeted the standard version of Xandros at home users and moved automatic authentication to their newly launched business version, essentially creating home and business versions of Xandros, much as Windows XP has Home and Pro
  • I use Xandros (Score:3, Informative)

    by smacktits (737334) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:08AM (#9084470)
    ...and I love it. With the possible exception of Crossover Wine, which seems to be a bit flaky, I have no complaints other than the really nasty window skins and colour schemes.

    It's true to say that it might be confusing for a new user. As always, when switching from an OS you've used for years you will find things difficult if you're not used to Linux.

    I personally have had few problems with it. It detected my monitor, LAN card, all my hardware. Something even Redhate failed to manage.

    Of course, it's not FreeBSD. But hey, it's a start...
  • by Omega1045 (584264)
    When is a Linux distro going to finally try to emulate the look and feel of Microsoft BOB [toastytech.com], a truly intuative GUI?!?!?! Jeeesh!
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:17AM (#9084594)
    Many of the posts here are slagging Xandros for trying to look like Windows and are questioning the idea that this makes it intuitive.

    Maybe you are all just trolling, because I find it hard to believe that you haven't seen the desktop numbers (or at least heard about them). Almost everyone uses Windows on the desktop, except a few who use the Mac (with MS's full blessing).

    The purpose of the Xandros distribution is to appeal to Windows users. It is supposed to be intuitive to Windows users, not Linux users. 'Lock-in' really exists and it is really important: it is very difficult to switch to another OS if you've only ever used Windows. It's not a matter of which is better, it's a question of familiarity.

    I personally would like to see more Windows users using Linux (in any form), and I would especially like to see a small dent made in the MS monopolies so I'm glad to see Xandros working on this.

    Now, if you want to slag Xandros, there are lots of better ways to do this. Most importantly to me, they don't seem to contribute much back. People are attacking Red Hat a lot these days, but take a loook at the amount that Red Hat contributes to important OSS projects (eg. GCC). Xandros does not. But that is their right - they are not breaking the GPL or anything (to the best of my knowledge). By the way, Dream Weavers (which is included in Xandros and shares some ownership) is also an excellent contributor (to Wine).

    It also seems to me that their product is way over priced, but I guess I don't know what their strategy is.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I had to install Xandros on a professor's new laptop and desktop. Selected the packages I wanted installed, clicked "Install" only to have it fail with the error "bad package". No indication which of the dozens of packages I had selected was bad. I ended up installing the systems six packages at a time so when I got an error I could uncheck them individually until I found the bad one.

    What a pain in the ass. Naturally, after all that the modem in the laptop didn't work (driver version was too old), neit

  • I don't know how this thing actually works in practice, but if the quality of their graphics is an indication, I'm optimistic. I had a quick look at the screenshots and my immediate reaction was "at last a linux GUI that doesn't hurt my eyes".
  • great quote (Score:2, Funny)

    by tehcyder (746570)
    Rick Berenstein: 2004 will definitely be the year of the Linux desktop
    Sounds somehow familiar, can't quite put my figner on it.

  • by SydShamino (547793) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:25AM (#9084723)
    Since all the comments above me are from people who say that "Xandros is no more than Debian + KDE + Codeweavers, just go compile your own", I figure I should add something.

    I moved one of my machines to Xandros 2.0 last December. It was my first machine to move from Windows 2000. I hadn't switched until then for a few reasons:

    1) While I can figure out technical things, I want some basis of familiarity to start with. Most Linux operating systems are completely foreign. I had previously installed Debian once, but I had no idea what to do to make my sound work, and no real way to find out without wasting weeks of my free time on my own, or going to a newsgroup to get unhelpful advice.

    2) I had been very nervous about making an -insecure- Linux box. Back in college I had a SGI workstation with Irix. I learned a good bit about the OS, and even reinstalled it once from scratch. I didn't learn until it was too late, however, that buried somewhere back in section 6 chapter 7 page 35 of the documentation was a list of default accounts with no passwords! The machine was exploited. I waited until Xandros 2.0 so I would have a Linux operating system with the simplicity of Debian updates to keep it secure.

    Xandros 2.0 has worked very well for me. A few accomplishments:

    1) In four years, my wife and I have not been able to get Windows networking to function on our six computers. Her second machine could see my second machine in the workgroup, while my second machine could see her primary machine. None of them could see anything else, even though they were all in the same workgroup and even attached to the same hub, with all of them set up the same way. We used FTP to transfer files, and moved the printer cable manually. With Xandros, I set up a fileserver with (almost) a right-click and "share this folder". Amazingly, even now when the machines can't see each other, they ALL see the server. Samba does a better job of Windows networking that Windows does!

    2) I have an old HP scanner. The HP driver for it blue-screens Windows 2k on boot, and they never provided an updated driver. I haven't used it in two years because of this. When I used Xandros Networks to install their scanner program (Kooka) and then plugged in my USB scanner, it just -worked-. (The first day.)

    3) I have several Windows applications running well in Xandros with Crossover Office, including Excel (didn't like OO.o), tax software, GURPS character creator, etc. This helps build hope that I could leave Windows entirely one day.

    Now, that said, there are some things that have gone wrong:

    1) That Samba share worked great for all the Windows users, who could great and modify files in the shared directory with ease (when I had permissions set correctly in the graphical dialogs). To get my user on the Xandros machine to be able to also create and modify files at the same time, I had to dig through the Xandros support site and the Samba online docs to find the right setting to make in a config file.

    2) The mouse in Xandros was "sticky". The cursor wouldn't move until I had moved the mouse a certain amount, and then it "jumped". This made it VERY hard to do things like resize columns in Excel. The fix was adding a "resolution" line to the pointer's configuration, which again I had to go to support forums to find. I have no idea why this wasn't configurable from the control center.

    3) After using my scanner the first day, two days later it completely didn't work. Again, after digging around on support sites, I found the solution - it was a permissions problem. (Why did I have permission the first day but not on later days? I have no idea.) Anyway, it works fine again now, and I was even able to help some other folks who had the same problem.

    In summary - Xandros 2.0 has a market. Maybe it's not a market for most Slashdot readers who work in IT or are in college or high school and grew up with Linux and PCs. But it has a market for this electrical engi
  • ...will any Linux distro forego familiarity and try to revolutionize a new desktop? People are familiar with Windows, but, as stated here, is it really that intuitive? Not unless you've used it for some time. So why not develop the next gen desktop and trump MS. I know IceVM and the like are vastly different, but I don't know how Joe Sixpack would adapt to the interface. Who knows, maybe he would... but I would definitely like to see some innovation in the desktop as it has been untouched for decades,
  • As a Xandros user... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ites (600337) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:32AM (#9084842) Journal
    I can say why it's easily worth the price tag.

    1. On every PC we've installed it on (about 10 in our company) it just worked, with the exception of a notebook that had some CD hardware problems.

    2. It installs smoothly and gives you a good set of applications without overloading the UI.

    3. It has an excellent one-click GUI update manager that is based on apt and is compatible with it.

    4. The Xandros File Manager really _is good_. Whatever file you have, you click and the 'right' thing happens. Want to burn some files to CD? Selected them, right click and select "Burn to CD"... Want to unpack a zip file? Right click, choose "Unpack". and so on.

    5. It is stable.

    Overall Xandros gives you the feeling that you are driving a luxury car. Smooth, highly polished, and incredible attention to detail.

    6. It is Debian: want to add something? Find the sources, unpack, build, install.

    Now the poor points:

    1. Slow release cycle, annoying if you're a thrill seeker. With one release a year, Xandros gives you reliability over performance and gadgets.

    2. Not free. You can't just copy it and share it. I believe Xandros is preparing a free version.

    3. The Windows support is flaky and not something you should bet on. It's better just to migrate to Linux/portable applications such as OOo over time (it took me about 6 months to migrate, switching one application at a time: office, media players, browsing, streaming, agendas, and finally email.)

    I've tried many different distros, but I'm not willing to spend much time installing, or learning the details. It has to work quickly and smoothly. That's what Xandros does.
  • I bought Xandros (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And it's the first distro I've ever bought 'officially'.

    I'm mixed about it. I wanted an easy desktop but I also want to be able to config "some stuff". Like, I wanted to be able to upgrade kernals, or upgrade to kde 3.2 etc, which I couldn't.

    I suppose it wasn't really aimed at me, but for the average windows user it is fantastic. Amazing hardware support (minus USB) easy installation, looks great (you CAN have Gnome in it, it's a matter of "apt-get install gdm" and "apt-get install gnome-desktop") also th
  • Hi, my name's Brent, I'm a developer, and I'm migrating from Windows to Linux. ("Hi, Brent.") About a month and a half ago, I got fed up with the intricacies of Active Directory and Exchange 2003's wacko registry keys, and decided to ditch it all.

    I'd tried Linux every year or so, but the installation process kept turning me away. I couldn't find a distro that worked out of the box with my IBM Thinkpad T21 (strange video card running 1400x1050, and integrated 3com Hurricane ethernet card that isn't supported anymore.) This time, I decided I was going to make the switch no matter what.

    Over the course of two weekends, I tried every distro I could find and had nothing but problems. My video card setup was particularly problematic: I just wanted dual head video with one video card, two flat panels. Most distributions just stubbornly refused to work out of the box. I contacted a lot of Linux users in my area via IRC, and nobody had the time (even though I was offering great money) to come set it up for me.

    Out of desperation, I shelled out $90 for the downloadable version of Xandros, figuring that since it came with Crossover Office, it'd probably be worth the money.

    Wow. It was. Among other things, Xandros detected the ATI video card out of the box, eventually got dual head video working, and the user interface is pretty straightforward. It still couldn't handle the onboard Ethernet on the Thinkpad, but I've given up on that laptop by now.

    Here's the punch line: users leaving Windows don't care about the window manager. They don't care whether it's Gnome or KDE. We want an easy transition, and we're willing to pay good money for it. We don't want a *BETTER* user interface - if we did, we'd buy Macs. We just want to do the same things we're doing more, but more reliably and more securely. People who argue about whether Xandros is copying Windows are missing the point. They got my $90. If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would have done is bought Xandros earlier in the process.
  • by LMCBoy (185365) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:17PM (#9085395) Homepage Journal
    Here's some more information for you to ignore:


    When we started the Corel LINUX project back in March of 1999, GNOME/GTK was there so we actually reviewed both GNOME and KDE to make sure we used the right desktop environment to start. We had a very short and aggressive cycle and the simplicity of KDE/Qt won again. Looking back, we never regretted about not supporting GNOME at all. Most of us came from OS/2 PM or Windows GUI development or freshly from a new object oriented technology called Java back then. MFC was a big life saver when it came out in Windows in developing GUI apps. Java was even better where everything was simple and made perfect sense. There was no way any of us would like to go back in time and program in something (GNOME/GTK) that was even more awkward than programming in pre-MFC days where we had to deal with the Win32 C API only. KDE/Qt was just like Java where everything (well most of the time anyway) made sense.

    We have also seen a lot of poor arguments made on Qt where it cost money if you want to develop a commercial closed source application. Usually people argued that the $500 per developer license fee was just as much as a developer's salary in some third world countries. That may be true but they don't really take into account the months of headaches and development time they will save by using Qt every year. That alone is probably worth the $500. KDE/Qt is simple and is designed for the desktop. We like it and we have no regrets in supporting KDE at all.

  • Lindows/Linspire files for IPO and sues Xandros [osnews.com].

    Apparently Lindows, now known as Linspire [linspire.com], shared code and lent Xandros money to develop their own Linux much like Lindows.

    PC OnRamp AKA EPC [pconramp.com] sells Xandros for $40USD on an install CD.

  • by NtroP (649992) on Friday May 07, 2004 @05:53PM (#9089550)
    OK, confession time: When I looked over the Xandros screen shots they looked pretty slick to me. You know, polished. Many of the windowing environments I've seen and used on Linux has fallen a bit short on this point - much of it simply having to do with poor default choices for graphics and "clunky" (IMO) default choices for window decorations. Then I started reading the various posts about "why are they imitating windows?" and "why don't 'we' use our efforts to build a better interface?" followed shortly by arguments about what intuitive means.

    I'll admit to being guilty of confusing intuitive with familiar. But let's be honest here, no interfaces are created or used in isolation. They are always based on some previous knowledge, understanding or bias and exploit a framework of shared understanding between users. That "Network Neighborhood" icon is only intuitive if you know what a "Network Neighborhood" is and can guess that the little drawing is about.

    I ran into this problem while designing a webmail interface. I had to battle the impluse to go with my personal preferences for a clean, unobtrusve interface with small icons and hovering tools tips. I found out that icons that made perfect sense to me were uselsess to my users. My preference for having additional information appear only when an item was focused on (ie. hovered over) instead of splattered all over the screen up front wasn't shared by my users. Moreover, I found, when I asked for feedback and input, that "experienced" users alway asked for things to be laid out like the software it was replacing (Eudora, Outlook, etc.) while the "new" users, once given a brief tour accepted the interface much more readily. I'm guilty of that myself. I use the Gimp whenever I can, but because I cut my teeth on Photoshop and have hundreds of hours experience with it, I find myself giving the Gimp negative reviews - mostly because it's unfamiliar (read counter-intuitive) to me.

    So, after sitting for a while and trying to literally think out of the box and come up with a truly new interface for an OS, I realized that almost everything I imagined was impossible (or at least impractical) with current technology, or heavily biased toward familiar paradigms and conventions. When it came down to it, most of the thing's I'd change are little annoyances instead of overall design. I think if anything, incorporating some fuzzy logic into the interface so that it morphs to my usage patterns. I mean subtlely, I hate it when windows chops off a menu and removes objects I haven't used yet. It's a good idea, but how about leaving them where I was used to seeing them but making the most used items progressively darker, sharper, bigger, whatever. Don't remove them from sight or even rearange them.

    For me personally I rely on relative location of objects rather than what they look like for immediate recognition. It drives my wife (and my boss) crazy, but what migh look like a complete mess in my office to others is "organized" to me. Whatever you do, don't move anything. When I'm reading a book, I can literally stop in the middle of the page and be able to pick the book back up months later and know exactly what word I left off on, because it hasn't moved. So for me, spacial orientation is critical. For my wife, it has to be labled and "organized" according to the Dewey-decimal system or she's lost (I don't know how we've made it for 18 years). So, I guess what I'm saying is that comming up with a revolutionarily intuitive user interface may be impossible. That leaves us with an evolutionarily familiar interface. I mean, my God, vi is NOT intuitive, by any streatch of the imagination. However, it IS powerfull and familiar to me, meaning that I'm more likely to turn to vi for many tasks and get things done more quickly, than I am to fire up a graphical editor. My mom on the other hand has no compatible frame of reference and would be totally lost in vi.

    So, for those of you who ar

  • and could be a little more upfront and honest about it's product.

    After reading this article I don't feel it gives a balanced view of Xandros at all. I'll tell you my experience.

    It installed fine off the CD, even detected winmodems and installed them correctly. They have to be congratulated on getting so much of this right. In general it is a great desktop Linux, but beware of the pitfalls, some other issues come to bite you only after being showered with positive press releases and simple installe

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