Feeds

Xandros - the Linux company that isn't

'Users don't care about Linux'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Xandros has spent the better part of a decade trying to take Linux to the masses and build itself up as a serious contender in the commercial Linux racket. And now, after the advent of Linux-based netbooks and an evolving new class of devices that are being dubbed smartbooks, Xandros is getting another chance at going mainstream and taking Linux with it. Even if people don't know they're using Linux.

The Computex trade show is going on this week in Taipei, Taiwan, where a lot of laptops, netbooks, smartbooks, and other tiny computing devices are designed and manufactured, and Xandros is there, running around with partners demonstrating its Moblin 2.0-compliant Linux variant and the applications that run atop it as well as talking up its partnerships with Intel (and its Atom processor) as well as Freescale Semiconductor and Qualcomm (which are making smartbooks based on ARM processors).

At this point in its history - and given the uptake that Xandros has seen for its software thanks to it being tapped as the platform for the original Asus Eee PC netbook - it is reasonable to ask if Xandros actually cares all that much about Xandros Desktop Professional and Xandros Server V2.

While Xandros is not going to turn down a sale for any of its products, and it fully supports what it sells, just like other Linux distributors. Jordan Smith, product marketing manager for OEM solutions at Xandros, is perfectly frank about what Xandros is doing. "We are kind of getting away from being a Linux company, and we are more interested in presenting a user experience," explains Smith. "Users don't care about Linux."

Well, most of them don't, as the pitiful uptake of Linux among consumers and corporations on desktops and laptops shows - outside of software development and applications such as call centers or embedded systems like cash registers. What Xandros has figured out, after years of trying to fight Windows on the desktop, is that you have to win with Linux on other platforms and bury it deep behind an application layer to insulate people from Linux. As it has done well (but not brilliantly) with the Asus Eee PC.

Xandros was spun out of graphics and office automation software maker Corel in 2001, and the company (along with its Linspire acquisition) tried to make Debian Linux as friendly (or familiar or as frustrating or something like that) as Windows. The company's experience as a commercial operating system distributor has served it well as it creates custom app stacks for companies making small computing devices.

This is not necessarily an easy business. According to Smith, Xandros has created over 200 variants of its Linux distro for Asus, in 24 different languages with all manner of character sets - something you have to do in the commercial electronics space. You have to do lots of languages for a commercial Linux distro too. But as Smith says, Xandros has learned from hard experience that "there is no money to be made with a general purpose desktop Linux" because of the massive matrix of possible hardware you also need to support to be a general purpose OS.

"Doing that general purpose operating system is a nightmare, and you lose your shirt on it," Smith explains. "At the end of the day, you have to do something that puts rice in the bowl."

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Next page: Where the rice is

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.