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03.07.09

Novell News Summary – Part II: Xandros in Sub-notebooks, Fast Boot, Expo

Posted in Dell, GNU/Linux, Xandros at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

XANDROS WAS virtually non-existent in the press until a couple of weeks ago when few announcements were made, such as this new press release. There is a flurry of articles which cover Xandros’ participation in the market with its Microsoft-taxed distribution (Ballnux). Here are some articles that we found:

ASUS

The box also comes with two recovery discs (Linux Recovery DVD and XP Support CD). I got a chuckle out of this, since the Eee PC 1000 is only available with Linux pre-installed (but the software manual details out how to install XP). These discs, as their name implies, are to restore your netbook back to factory settings. The “XP Support CD” does not install Windows XP on the machine, but is meant to be used on an existing Windows machine. It basically contains more documentation and a few support/diagnostic tools. In order to restore the default OS back to its default state, you also need to XP support CD.

While the Eee comes equipped with Windows XP Home, it’s hardly noticeable – Asus layers an interface over the top, styled to resemble the tab-based version of Xandros Linux installed on the original Eee PCs.

If we cast our mind backs all the way to the release of the Asus EEE PC 701, back in late 2007, we remember a 7 inch screen, a 4GB SDHC hard disk, and a version of Xandros Linux installed.it was the computer equivalent of a go-cart, light, and fun. We are now starting to see the screen size getting bigger, more and more features being crammed in.

Fast Boot

* Xandros, Inc.’s Instant On – an offering that enables computers to boot in seconds, available as a customizable solution for OEMs and as a retail product.

* Xandros demoed Presto, an instant-on “utility desktop” for laptops. It’s based on Xandros’s version of Linux, but it’s not intended to replace Windows — just to give a user quick access to files or the Web without waiting for Windows to boot up. User selects Presto or Windows from a dual-boot menu at power on, after which it’s about ten seconds to a usable desktop. The usual applications are included: Firefox for Web browsing, Open Office for accessing Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents — and the Windows files are all accessible from Pronto. Shutting down is even faster than booting; it’s just turning the laptop off. Very slick if it works as well as the demo. Xandros is also launching an applications store to distribute free and commercial Linux apps to run on Presto. Free beta version in late March, commercial version in mid-April, pricing not announced.

First up will be Xandros Presto, which brings an “instant on” feature to Windows systems. I’ve seen many alternative environments on laptops that boot very quickly – in seconds rather than the minutes it often takes Windows to boot – but typically these are systems that are tied to specific hardware and/or have to be installed by the system maker. Presto is different because it’s a $19.95 application that works on any Windows laptop.

SplashTop is a lightweight Linux distribution that can boot in a matter of seconds to give access to the web, music, photos, Skype or IM.

[...]

SplashTop has a few other issues too: the lack of a word processor, leaving you reliant on web-based apps, and no option to customise the trackpad sensitivity, which has a default setting that’s far too sensitive. A couple of minor additions and SplashTop would be competitive enough to take on the Xandros based distribution that Asus uses on its Eee PC range. For now, though, it can’t.

Presto is a pre-boot operating system that aims to get you connected to the web “in seconds” after you push the “ON” button of your laptop. It works by using a variant of Linux that is optimized to boot quickly. Existing pre-boot systems do take 15 to 30 seconds to boot, but it is interesting to note that most competitors come pre-installed with a new computer in the form of a flash memory. Presto can be sold directly and installed/uninstalled by consumers for$20.

Xandros Presto is a software product designed to give any Windows machine an “instant on” feature, which access to email, web browsing, chat, media, etc. What makes this different from other products with similar claims is that it will work on any Windows machine, not just particularly OEM builds, and will be available as on $19.95 consumer download on April 13. It’s from the Xandros Linux folks. Honestly, it solves a problem I don’t really have – I tend to have my laptop “sleep” rather than booting it each time, and I typically need to load full applications – but I certainly know people who want faster booting machines.

More on fast boot:

Technicopia has a great idea going with its Gwabbit software, which automatically captures contact information from emails. And Xandros has a nice solution to get a computer to boot within seconds. But both of these offer features that Microsoft should be building into its own software. So the startups may be weak foundations for lasting businesses. That’s why they didn’t make my list.

As expected, CNET has something negative to say. There is little love for GNU/Linux at CNET because of the choice of writers.

DEMO

More from DEMO 09:

Exhibitors will include Ottawa-based Xandros, whose products include Scalix, a Linux-based calendaring and messaging system, and Xandros, a Window-Linux interoperability system that was demonstrated at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Xandros was also mentioned in the following articles about DEMO:

Xandros is an embodiment of Linspire now. It is important to ensure that it does not gain at the expense of GNU/Linux distributions which are not ‘taxed’ by Microsoft.

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A Single Comment

  1. David Gerard said,

    March 7, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Gravatar

    You know those little £100 Godson/MIPS-based notebooks? With the sorta crappy GNU/Linux in firmware? It appears the enthusiasts have come up with new firmware that doesn’t suck. And these things can never be Windowsed. (Hmm, wonder if MIPS NT4 will install.)

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