My regular readers are probably used to me switching distros more often than most people change their underware. Without knowing how often the average person changes his or her underware it’s hard to say how accurate that thought it, but yeah – I change distros a lot. My recent foray with Slackware went OK, but I couldn’t get any reliable functionality out of my wifi card. One boot it would work, the next boot it wouldn’t. I got tired of that after a few hours, and went searching for a new distro.
I’ve used most of the distros on Distrowatch’s top 20 list with varying degrees of success, but one that I had never gotten around to trying was Xandros. Xandros is a Canadian pay distro, although there is a free version available.
Xandros has a gazillion versions: Home, Business, and Education. There’s also an unmentioned free version called the Open Community Edition. I elected to pay $10 to get the OCE via http download, but if you’re into torrents, you can get it free.
I installed Xandros on my Dell Inspiron 1000 laptop. The current OCE edition of Xandros is 3.02 and it installed flawlessly. It didn’t pick up my Linksys WPC11 wifi PCMCIA card during install, but on the first boot it picked it up and I was able to use the standard KDE Control Panel to configure it.
Even better? Suspend works! It didn’t work out of the box, but with some minimal tweaking it worked just fine. I’ll post the details on enabling suspend in Xandros in another entry.
Xandros is a Debian-based distro that uses the KDE desktop. I have to admit that the pay distros are really getting my attention these days. Linspire and Xandros are the only two distros I’ve ever run that have supported suspend. With a laptop and (let’s face it) pretty slow boot times for almost all GNU/Linux distros, I need suspend.
Xandros has a software repository (called XN for Xandros Networks) much like Linspire’s CNR repository. The idea is the same – click and install software through a nice GUI on top of apt-get, but that’s where the similarity ends. The range of software available on XN is really quite abysmal when compared to Linspire’s CNR. I don’t know the actual numbers, but Linspire has over 2000 applications in their CNR and there’s like…20 in XN.
However, you can get around that by adding Debian Sarge repositories to your sources.list file. Unlike Linspire, Xandros seems to have stuck close enough to the Debian lines that applications apt-getted from those repositories work. I’ve installed Nano, Audacity, and Open Office 2.0 from the Debian Sarge repositories and it worked just fine.
The applications that Xandros comes with are pretty rudimentary and the absence of anything other than a single Xandros repository in the sources.list file left me thinking that while this was a nice desktop, I was going to be screwed for applications. Happily, though, normal Debian applications seem to run OK.
I’ll be playing with Xandros over the next week and posting my thoughts and observations. Two entries that I will be making for sure are: