Linux examined: Xandros Professional

Xandros, a commercial Linux distro, tries to be user-friendly, and for the most part, it succeeds.

Xandros Desktop Professional includes the window tile effect

Xandros Desktop Professional includes the window tile effect

No free lunch

Xandros is an unabashedly commercial distribution. Unlike Linspire, which has a parallel Freespire project, Xandros has no free version. The trial version is just that -- it starts shutting down after a half-hour once you've reached the end of the 30-day trial.

If you decide to buy, you currently have only one option: You can purchase the Professional version for $99, which includes the distribution, the Xandros Network package and 90 days of support. (If you're a nonprofit, incidentally, the company allows unlimited installations for nonprofit use.)

And if you're looking for a single desktop edition? At the moment, you're out of luck; Xandros has discontinued its US$40 Desktop Home Edition. However, according to a company rep, Xandros will release Freespire 5 in late October and a new Business Desktop version in November.

Xandros will no doubt offend Linux purists, both by the tight integration of commercial software into its business model and by the lack of features such as Gnome. On the other hand, for a Linux newbie who wants a Windows-like experience, it may make a reasonable choice.

James Turner is a freelance journalist specializing in technology.

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