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Review: Xandros A Viable Linux Option For White-Box Desktops

Xandros' desktop Linux OS is a solid choice for businesses and a profitable option for system builders trying to compete in a commodity PC market. In fact, the biggest challenge may be how to cut through years of anti-Linux FUD and hype.
Shrinking hardware margins and component prices are drastically cutting into the bottom line for the typical white-box builder. Add to that the high cost of software and operating systems, and system builders are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with tier-one and tier-two system vendors, many of which have sweetheart deals with software companies.

There still is a way to garner profits from white-box systems—but it may take a radical change in thinking. System builders first need to consider what most PCs are used for—Web connectivity, word processing and other low-tech applications—so they can be more flexible in their OS choices. While most users have standardized on Windows because it is the OS of choice for so many PC vendors, more system builders are embracing Linux as an option.

 Xandros For Business Offers:
>> Easy installation and configuration, compatibility with Microsoft Windows apps, and a price tag of $129
>>  PPTP VPN client for connection to Windows servers; Microsoft Terminal Services client
>>  Dozens of apps that normally would be high-cost add-ons: a graphic file editor, CD-burning, antispam and more.

Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to their acceptance by end users is the uncertainty created by the anti-Linux community. The key to a successful Linux white box is to guarantee all the functionality needed by the typical end user.

Some Linux distributions are a better fit than others. The Xandros Desktop OS, for one, starts at $39 for the standard edition. The deluxe version is $89, and the Business version is $129, which most system builders should opt for because it offers StarOffice 7, Novell's Evolution Connector and Windows PDC/AD authentication.

Xandros is easy to install and configure, and is incredibly compatible with Microsoft Windows applications, thanks in part to CodeWeavers' CrossOver Office application emulator. For remote users, Xandros has a PPTP VPN client for connection to Windows servers and a Microsoft Terminal Services client. Xandros also includes OpenOffice and dozens of applications that normally would be high-cost add-ons, such as a graphic file editor (GIMP), CD-burning (Xandros CD/DVD writer) and antispam.

The challenge here is in convincing potential customers that Linux will work for them. By focusing on the task and not the product, the sales process will be easier, considering the cost-savings.