Which Distribution Do You Use for Your Desktop? Xandros

Posted by tadelste on Feb 19, 2006 1:31 PM EDT
LXer.com; By burz
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I use Xandros 3 currently, and I've used this distro since it was Corel 1.0. Back then, it was surely the easiest way to get Debian installed.

(Prior to this, I'd used Red Hat but got tired of their radical changes and the way my third-party "Red Hat Compatible" apps kept breaking with each upgrade. So I ran them on Xandros instead.)

IMO it always had the best overall hardware detection (it was the first to automatically configure USB devices). It was also the first to support Windows Domains out of the box. I like that Xandros comes with VPN client and home-folder encryption.

These features have helped me get-by at home AND in large, demanding corporate environments.

All this is managed fairly seamlessly though well-organized configuration modules in the KDE control panel. There is no second or third control panel... nor are there 5 different paths to the control panel modules; nor are there alternate utilities to similar functions in the control panel (one user-manager is enough for me, PCLOS).

Having CD ripping and DVD burning built into the file manager also doesn't hurt! Since very early on, Xandros came with Realplayer, Acrobat Reader, and Flash installed.

I can't say I 'love' this distro. Since I got one last year I've fallen in love with my Mac... but not Linux. The latter is purveyed by people who caterwail about MS not adhering to standards, while they simultaneously avoid providing a standard for desktop users; they want to show-off their skills to their leet peers and expert sysadmins, but not commit to providing a GUI and ABI as proper stable interfaces (remember-- in IT an interface it a CONTRACT) that mere mortals can cope with. So its no wonder to me that ISVs find it near impossible to target and independantly package/distribute their apps to end-users.

Xandros is based on Debian, and Debian's APT + repositories is a nice halfway house for people looking for ease of installation. But even with Ubuntu in the picture Linux still doesn't have a standard that would allow users and ISVs to escape wrestling with dependency databases.

When I install an application on Mac OS X, it usually checks ONE thing: The OS version. Others may also check for Java and Quicktime. That's it! When LSB Desktop is ratified later this year, I would expect ISVs to be able to create single RPMs for each of their applications with most of them having only ONE dependency "LSB Desktop".

If this does NOT happen.. if the community fails to rally around this standard sufficiently to meet end-user expectations (and needs) then fuggeddabboudditt; the Linux desktop ain't ever gonna arrive. Users will feel trapped because they can't install apps (and drivers) from a web download or a CD-ROM; ISVs will continue to balk at all the different packages they must produce for each of their own releases MULTIPLIED by each release of each distro!

In the face of all this, what would prevent this whole thread from becoming a moot point? What would allow Linux to begin to compete?

Here are the major ingredients:

1. LSB DESKTOP 3.1 ( [HYPERLINK@www.linuxbase.org] )

...... no there aren't any prior versions. This will be the first desktop spec. Mainly it will take already-common desktop tech and define it under a single standard.

2. PROJECT PORTLAND ( [HYPERLINK@www.freedesktop.org] )
...... the to-do list to fill in the remaining gaps of desktop integration (i.e. a standard way for installers to add program icons to the launch menu). Yes these people are in cahoots with #1 above.

...... a web-based list of all known hardware devices and their Linux compatibility status. The HCL should be maintained by a consortium of distro vendors, and should be a simple reference for users while they shop for hardware. Linuxdevices.org has an ad-hoc, outdated and somewhat frightening msgboard-as-database. There is no serious effort for an HCL that I know of.

4. The Unix-y conceit that everyuser is either a helpless 'grandma' / data-entry clerk, or a jaded sysadmin who dictates the options available to the former hasn't been true since the early 1980s; Time to drop it. The PC revolution has taught us that users will build networks out of floppy disks and sneakers to route around your stuff if the latter doesn't offer flexible tools they can manipulate. Remember: Users ditched mainframes AND Unix thin-clients and the spread of the Internet is no excuse to always rely primarily on centralized schemes like APT and web application portals. This is the step where the Linux community adjusts not so much its rules or its code, but it's attitude.

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