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A Linux Desktop Bonanza

Linux desktop vendors Xandros and Linspire (also known as Lindows) are offering more desktop software for less, and, in the case of Xandros, for nothing.

Xandros is giving away a version of its Linux Desktop Operating System for free.

"Our principal aim is to spread the use of desktop Linux as far and wide as possible," Frederick H. Berenstein, chairman and chief technology officer of Xandros, told internetnews.com. "We've also had a tremendously positive reception for the Xandros Desktop products and we felt that this would be an ideal way to give back to the community."

The free version is called Open Circulation Edition and can be downloaded from the Xandros Web site without cost. The version, intended for non-commercial use, is loaded with the same features as its shrink-wrapped editions, with a few exceptions.

Users will have access to Xandros user forums and free software updates, though there is no included documentation or e-mail support. The CD-burning application is limited to the minimum burn speed of the user's CD burner. The included Opera browser is a version that is ad supported.

The Open Circulation Edition also does not include an integrated CodeWeavers Cross Over Office application and plug-in that would allow users to run Windows applications directly on the Xandros desktop, which many users call the single greatest feature of the paid Xandros distribution.

But it does include the OpenOffice productivity suite as well as the ability to easily download literally hundreds of other applications that will work with the free edition.

Xandros said it expects the offer will eventually help its revenues. "The first goal is to spread Xandros far and wide," Berenstein said. "We only expect a fraction to trade up to commercial products and services or Xandros Networks Premium subscriptions, but with a large user base we still expect that to generate significant revenue."

Linspire (sometimes known as Lindows) also made a similar offer in April, offering Linspire 4.5 for free via BitTorrent. In that instance, the operating system was offered for free; updates and additional software were not.

Linspire, perhaps better known for its ongoing legal battles with Microsoft over the use of the term Lindows in the Linux vendor's corporate name in the U.S., also announced it would bundle the latest Mandrake and Fedora Core Linux distributions with its own Linspire distribution. The bundle is available via download or can be ordered as an 8 CD set.

The idea is to provide a "Linux shootout," allowing new users to easily compare all three distributions.

Mandrake and Red Hat officials were not available for comment by press time.

In another Desktop Linux related announcement, KDE, which is the technology behind the Xandros Desktop and included in both Linspire, Mandrake and Fedora Core distributions, announced the availability of its latest incremental update to its 3.2 product version 3.2.3.



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