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Xandros updates desktop Linux for businesses

Xandros has released a new version of its business Linux desktop with upgraded Windows integration features.

The OS is an evolution of Corel's Debian-based distribution, acquired in August 2001, and the company is one of the few Linux distributors with the desktop as their primary focus.

Unlike the consumer-oriented Linspire (formerly Lindows), the Xandros Desktop OS is made to work with Windows networks, supporting Windows network file sharing, network authentication on Windows NT Primary Domain Controllers and Active Directory networks, NT log-on scripts, SAP and Citrix thin clients and IBM Terminal Emulators.

Version 2.5 adds the month-old CrossOver Office 3.0.1, which allows it to run Windows applications by integrating parts of the Windows API directly into Linux. Supported applications include Lotus Notes 6.5.1, Microsoft Project 2000/2002, and Microsoft Outlook XP.

Existing Xandros users can upgrade over the company's update system. For additional Windows compatibility, the software includes a trial version of NetTravere's Win4Lin 5.0, which runs Windows 98SE or Windows ME as a virtual machine in Linux.

The OS is based on Linux kernel 2.4.24 and includes version 1.6 of the Mozilla communications suite, as well as Sun's StarOffice 7 office suite, including support. StarOffice is compatible with Microsoft file formats.

Xandros is targeting desktop-centric businesses such as financial or insurance firms, though industry observers say the software may be best suited for smaller businesses, because of the greater technical support resources of larger competitors such as Red Hat and Novell.

"The Xandros Desktop OS excels in seamless network integration and cross-platform compatibility," said Xandros chairman and chief technology officer Dr Frederick Berenstein.

"Xandros has transformed the Linux desktop from a visionary future to a prudent reality for corporate IT planners."

The enterprise desktop is shaping up to be a major theme at next week's Linux conference, with Dell and Hewlett-Packard expected to unveil new products for deploying Linux as a desktop PC alternative to Windows.

Xandros said it will demonstrate xDMS, its desktop deployment and management server, which entered beta testing in April, and will announce a new line of enterprise server products. xDMS is the company's first foray into server products, despite initially saying it would release the management server in 2002.

Novell has said it is working on a new version of SuSE Linux, pared down for business desktop use, in order to make deployment and support easier. It will support only one web browser and use Ximian Desktop.

Recent contracts have shown that businesses are willing to rely on Linux desktops in order to cut down on security risks and costs. In June Allied Irish Banks (AIB) signed a deal with Sun Microsystems to switch all its branches' desktops from Windows to the Linux-based Java Desktop System (JDS).

Earlier in the month the German city of Munich finished a year-long decision-making process that will see 14,000 desktops switched from Windows to Linux, a move that some have called the "poster child" for desktop Linux.

Matthew Broersma writes for Techworld.com


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