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Xandros--Mom's New Linux Desktop

Corel Linux has been reinvented as Xandros, a user-friendly flavor of the operating system. I've seen Xandros in action, and while it doesn't signal the end of the road for other desktop OSs, I see it as the on-ramp of a superhighway. (We'll publish a Sneak Preview of the product soon, so watch for it to find technical details.)

Linux for the desktop is weak in two areas: It doesn't support familiar (meaning Windows) applications, and it's difficult to install. OS/2 should have taught the entire industry what happens when an excellent operating system is difficult to install: It goes on the shelf, and something else goes on the computer. Don't get me wrong--the major distributions of Linux get better with each release, but even with the Windows feel of the Red Hat 8.0 install, my mother wouldn't have been able to install it.

Xandros seems to have overcome both trouble spots. This distribution appears to be intended as a Windows replacement, without the Microsoft "you can't do this, you can't do that, we can do anything we want" licensing plan. I'm confident my mother could install it.

Then she could install MS Office products on it, assuming she didn't like Open Office. There are some limitations to which Windows applications CodeWeavers' CrossOver will run, but many of the applications the average home user would want will work with it.

Other companies are on a similar road: SuSE is rolling out an end-user desktop edition and Sun is shooting for workgroup-oriented solutions based on Linux desktops. Microsoft's desktop monopoly is not in danger of toppling tomorrow, but Xandros, Sun and SuSE are giving corporate customers a viable alternative that does not require every user to know how to navigate a Linux command line.

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