Xandros: Helping Windows Users to Migrate to Linux

Linux distributions have been developed for many reasons. Some offer the users all general purpose applications while others offering applications for specific purposes. Some distribution target low-end computers while others targeting the top-notch hardware available today. When it comes to Xandros, the purpose is little special. The creators of Xandros have created this Linux distribution in order to attract Windows users towards Linux.


Let’s have a look at how this has been done.

First of all, Xandros uses a customized version of KDE. KDE is one of the popular desktop environments available for Linux platform. Xandros does not use KDE’s default file manager Konqueror, rather use a custom written file manager named ‘Xandros File Manager’. Due to such customizations, Xandros has been able to change the KDE look and feel drastically. To be precise, Xandros offers a user interface which resembles Windows. Therefore, the Windows users who start using Xandros find it easy to use this Linux distribution over the others available distributions as options.

Installing software on Linux systems take a different face compared to other operating systems such as Windows and OS X. Usually, software called ‘package manager’ is used for downloading and installing software. Often, the software installation process involves command line as well. Imagine a Windows user, who is new to Linux having to do this? To make the life easier of such migrating users, Xandros offers an installer called ‘Xandros Networks’. This tool offers a wizard-like user interface for all software installations.

Migrating Windows users find many issues with Linux systems. One prominent issue they face is unavailability of their favorite word processing application suit; Microsoft Office package. Although Linux features a powerful substitution for this (OpenOffice, now called LibreOffice), this many not be sufficient for the demands of a seasoned Windows user. Xandros has taken this consideration quite seriously and now offers Crossover Office bundled with Xandros. Since Crossover Office is a commercial product, the corresponding Xandros edition is expensive than the other editions. Although this is somewhat contradiction to Linux’s open source philosophy, this actually offers the comfort the migrating Windows users are looking for.

The creators of Xandros have tried to give the end-user the Windows look and feel as well as the Windows functionality when it comes to usability. Therefore, users usually adapt to this distribution quickly. Although this is definitely a plus point in migration, there are many people who criticize this approach. This school of thought believes that the Linux should be kept as ‘Linux’, without compromising its basic principles. Since Linux is all about openness and options, anyone can come up with their own version of Linux, like what Xandros did.

Although the look and feel of Xandros resembles Windows, the operating system completely works as a core Linux system. Xandros is based on Debian and it always uses Debian’s latest stable release with some customizations added. So, one should not be fooled and jump into conclusions just by looking at the user interface.

Xandros is not just another Windows-like Linux distribution. In 2007, Xandros came into an agreement with Microsoft to form ‘BridgWays’. BridgWays releases software called ‘BridgWays Management Pack’ which installs many commercial packages that run on Windows such as JBoss, Apache, IBM WebSphere, Oracle etc. This way, BridgWays is no competitor for Microsoft, but expands businesses for all parties involved. BridgWays team closely works with Microsoft R&D team in order to expand the software portfolio offered by BridgWays. Xandros is in the process of extending the abilities offered by BridgWays in order to penetrate the Windows market more, and with the potential of getting more Windows based software into Linux platform.

Author: Nilanka

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