I've been an active Linux user for about two years. I started with a Slackware 7 LiveCD, then changed to Red Hat Linux 8.0 and moved up the chain until Fedora Core 1. Along the way, I tried a couple of Mandrake iterations as well. With each OS shift I found I was unable to keep all my programs and packages running properly without compiling some from source code or running into dependency issues. When you're working at a full-time job, doing outside work, and raising a family, time is at a premium. I kept thinking, "I just want to get work done, not search for packages all night."
Since my wife is a real estate agent she needs to get to an online database of available houses in our area. Unfortunately, the Web site locks out anyone not using Internet Explorer 6 or higher. This required me to operate my computer in dual-boot mode. Because Red Hat 9 had so thoroughly broken WINE, I decided, rather than spend more late nights fiddling with code, I would take the easier route.
Then I heard about the Debian-based Xandros Desktop 2.0. I cleaned out some partitions on my machine and loaded it up. The version I use, Deluxe, came with Crossover Office preloaded. Installation was a no-brainer, as was the simple setup of IE6. I popped in a CD with IE on it and Crossover did the rest itself.
Xandros 2.0 includes versions of all my favorite programs -- the Mozilla suite, OpenOffice.org, and KDE -- as well as a few I did not have access to on Linux before, including RealPlayer and support for Apple QuickTime. I do a lot of consulting work, and so OpenOffice.org has helped me do presentation and reports; since most of my customer prefer Microsoft-formatted documents, I am able to maintain compability with them. Having Quicktime and RealPlayer allows me to keep tuned in to news reports from local TV stations. As a media relations and political consultant I deal in a lot of news tracking, so having these products helps a lot.
Xandros makes it easy for me to maintain my single machine for my business, my wife's business and home use as well. Support and upgrades are easy, with the Xandros Network providing fresh packages via its own repository. Within a few minutes I can scan for updates and get back to work. Yes, this kind of feature is present on all Debian-based distros, but Xandros wrings out any guesswork that may come along with a less polished desktop OS.
I have to admit, there is one downside to Xandros -- the file manager seems to be a little bloated. While it is based on Konqueror it usually takes three to four times longer than Konqueror to open. Eventually I switched to using Konqueror for most of my file browsing. The File Manager does have an upside, though - it makes processes like burning CDs a lot easier.
Xandros is easy to use, easy to upgrade, and stuffed with time-saving packages and features. At prices ranging from $10 for the so-called Open Circulation Edition to $89 for the Deluxe Edition, it's inexpensive to own. I've eliminated my dual-boot situation thanks to Xandros and Crossover, and helped convert my wife to a Linux user as well. Not too shabby for one of the lesser known distributions on the block.
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Coming up next week: Slackware.