February 07, 2006
I think the best Linux desktop is the one that's best for a particular person based on their needs and level of Linux expertise. So, the next time someone asks you that question, I suggest you reply with a couple of questions of your own.
For example, you could ask, "Do you want to replace Windows? For home? For work? Are you interested in Linux because you want to get some new life out of an old system? Do you just want to mess around with Linux?" And so on...
Then, once you know where they're coming from, you can give the best possible answer.
For what it's worth, here's what I'd tell someone today based on some of the more common answers I get to my questions.
I want a home Windows replacement.
For these folks, I have an additional question: "Do you want just the software basics, or do you want to shop around for other open-source software?"
If they just want the basics, I recommend Xandros Inc.'s eponymous Xandros 3 Desktop. The Xandros line has been meant from the start to persuade Windows users to give Linux a try.
In my experience, Xandros is the closest to Windows XP you're going to get with a Linux system. Now, for some of you, I know that's the last thing you want, but for someone who knows Windows well, it may be exactly what they want and need.
On the other hand, Xandros doesn't have a lot of ready-to-use software outside of the basic package. If your friend really wants to try out a lot of Linux software but couldn't tell apt-get from an RPM, then Linspire Inc.'s Linspire Five-0 is the Linux for you.
I know it's fashionable in some Linux purist circles to make fun of Linspire, but it's well past time to get over that nonsense. Linspire is a good, solid Debian-based Linux, and like Xandros, it goes out of its way to be new-user friendly.
Linspire also far out-does Xandros with its easy-to-use CNR (click and run) new software installation system. With CNR, even your grandma can install Linux programs.
If your friend wants more than just something that looks like XP, but looks like a particular Windows set up, they should also check out the combination of Versora's Progression Desktop and Win4Lin's Win4Lin Pro.
Progression Desktop migrates Windows and Windows programs' settings and data from Windows to many Linuxes, including Xandros and Linspire. For example, you can use it to transfer Outlook on Windows messages to Thunderbird on Linux. Win4Lin enables you to run Windows 2000 or XP as a virtual machine in Linux. The companies have bundled these together to make a single package.
While I haven't had a chance to really review this combo, I have tried it out with Xandros and an XP set up, and it does seem to deliver the goods. Look for a real review of the pairing soon, here at DesktopLinux.com
As it is, I've tested about 13 separate livd CD Linux distros, but still haven't come to a decision, although I'm leaning towards Slackware Linux. Eventually I'll choose. When I do, I'll post a report here.
Posted by: Contagion at February 08, 2006 10:47 AM (Q5WxB)
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