The lost world of the Xandros desktop

The latest release of the Xandros Linux desktop edition was in June 2006, which is several lifetimes in the history of Linux. Is this the end of the line for the Xandros desktop?

By this time, Microsoft, which had an interest in keeping WordPerfect afloat for antitrust reasons, had invested $135 million in Corel.

According to Burney: "There is a contract that says we have to put the .Net framework into our major applications within six months of the release of .Net." Shortly thereafter, Corel divested itself of its Linux distribution, and discontinued support for WordPerfect and CorelDraw on Linux.

In August 2001, Xandros Incorporated announced that it had secured the rights to Corel's Linux distribution and a $10 million investment from Linux Global Partners, a Venture Capital firm. Like Corel, Xandros has its roots in Ottawa, Canada, and retained the majority of Corel's original Linux software development team.

Linux Global Partners also invested heavily in other Linux companies, the best known of which are probably CodeWeavers and Ximian - before it was sold to Novell.

No bells or whistles

The Xandros desktop edition gained flattering reviews for its slick and tidy interface, but is now several years out of date and offers little new for the experienced Linux user.

Most tellingly the applications repositories which are the meat and drink of Debian-based Linux distributions are well behind the times.

This may not matter to the commercial users who are the target audience for Xandros. They care more about stability and functionality than the bells and whistles that appeal to end users, or so the theory goes - but the behind the times feel of Xandros serves to put off the wider community of users who give a Linux distribution its profile and user base.

The distribution has benefited from the simple, five clicks or less, express installation that seemed so novel when first introduced by Corel, and a simplified file manager, but has suffered from a proprietary mind set. Xandros is not seen to release its developments back to the community.

In a Windows world

Xandros set out its stall early as the Linux for the Windows user, and claimed, justifiably, to be the first Linux distribution to provide automatic domain authentication of a Linux desktop in a Windows network and automatic integration of the desktop into Windows Active Directory. Xandros also claimed to be the "first and only Linux OS to support non-destructive NTFS - default for Microsoft Windows XP installation - partition resizing during installation."

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