Linux in Government: Linux Desktop Reviews, Part 1 - Xandros Business Edition
Xandros has many things going for it, including stability and a dedicated development team. Originally called the Corel Desktop, it's a Debian-based Linux distribution and continues to evolve as a stable and well thought out Linux distribution. As with many Linux distributions, the company provides a freely downloadable version.
You also may consider the Xandros desktop to be suitable for use by people wanting a modern and trouble-free Linux system. Xandros uses KDE as its windowing environment instead of GNOME. Fortunately, applications such as Evolution and the GNOME infrastructure are available as updates to the system, as are traditional GTK applications, such as FireFox and The GIMP.
If an organization feels comfortable managing its desktops without help from the vendor, then Xandros has a lot of merit. Unfortunately, the company lacks many features that enterprise users require. For example, enterprise customers want answers to questions such as:
What kind of support organization does Xandros have related to users? If you run into a problem, can you contact someone for help? How, over the phone or by e-mail?
How big is Xandros' support organization? Does the company out-source its support?
Does Xandros have a professional services organization? If someone wants to buy a large number of desktops, how would Xandros handle a big order?
Xandros offers documentation for the user. How about technical documentation, is there anything for the administrator?
What kind of solution-provider ecosystem exists? Does Xandros have resellers? How robust is that reseller organization?
What is Xandros's server strategy? Does the company y provide back office functionality and identity management?
What tools exist for rolling out and managing the desktops?
Does the company offer on-site training?
How can administrators and help-desk people learn to provide desk-side support in their own companies? Does curriculum exist?
These questions need answers. Government users may love the off-the-shelf Windows functionality provided by Xandros. If an organization has to provide its own support and administration, however, perhaps the organization equally is prepared to add Windows functionality itself.
Tom Adelstein lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Yvonne, and works as a Linux and open-source software consultant with Hiser+Adelstein, headquartered in New York City. He's the co-author of the book Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop and author of an upcoming book on Linux system administration, to be published by O'Reilly and Associates. Tom has been writing articles and books about Linux since early 1999.
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