Xandros Inc. is giving users and businesses one more reason to try Linux on the desktop—with applications that mimic Windows ease of use and interface.
To achieve that, Xandros, in Ottawa, which bought Corel Corp.s Linux desktop distribution in August last year, signed a deal to integrate CodeWeavers Inc.s CrossOver technology into the Xandros Desktop 1.0 operating system, due this month.
CrossOver allows users to run Microsoft Corp. applications such as Office, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player without having Windows installed.
CrossOver for Xandros will combine functionality from CrossOver Office, which lets applications such as Microsoft Office and IBMs Lotus Software divisions Notes run; and CrossOver Plugin, which lets Linux Web browsers use Windows Web applications, such as Windows Media Player, QuickTime and Shockwave.
Xandros Desktop users will be able to run or view these applications without having to buy, configure or install additional software on top of the operating system, officials said.
There is one hook: CodeWeavers will not provide support or maintenance upgrades for Xandros customers, who will have to pay separately for a CrossOver support contract.
The move brings CodeWeavers vision of creating a fully Windows-compatible version of Linux a step closer to reality, but Jeremy White, CEO of CodeWeavers, in St. Paul, Minn., cautioned that the technology does not yet allow every application to work seamlessly.
While this is not the first time Windows compatibility technologies from CodeWeavers have found their way into Linux—they were included last year in the Lindows operating system from Lindows.com Inc.—White said the CrossOver technologies integrated in Xandros Linux are more advanced and robust and work better than those built for Lindows.com.
"The Xandros and CrossOver desktop Linux solution is a far more complete vision of what [Lindows.com] announced a year ago," White said, adding that his company no longer works with Lindows.com, of San Diego.
Some users remain unconvinced about the need for heavy Windows compatibility in Linux. David Blood, a Linux desktop user and software engineer for Vivendi Universal Net USA Group Inc., in San Diego, said emulation of another operating system is always a second-rate option. "I think Linux has enough native software to do most things. I use Linux on the desktop, and I use [OpenOffice.orgs] OpenOffice for the occasional Word document. Thats the extent of my Windows needs," Blood said.
Scott Gates, a programmer in the information services division of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, in Ashland, Ky., said he believes Xandros distribution will offer competition to Microsoft and make Linux more attractive to businesses. "I would certainly buy it. But the challenge is that Xandros doesnt have as much name recognition as Red Hat [Inc.] and SuSE [Inc.]," he said.
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