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Several months ago I decided to switch from Windows XP to Linux. I had VMware Workstation for Windows installed so I was able to test out many different distros. Finally, I settled on Xandros 4 because it has a excellent GUI, large software database, allowed me to use many of my old windows while setting up my network and wireless with no trouble.
OK now comes the question. Since there are some 300 odd distros out there and some very popular why is there so little interest in a distro that seems to cover all bases of Linux?
No, I am not trying to find out someones favorite distro for we all have one but why this distro seems to be in such a gray area.
I think that depends on what your "bases" are. As far as my "bases", I want a stable, fast system that I can easily customize. Slackware does that for me. I think that all distro's have their own "bases" that they cover, but not everyone has the same "bases". Some guys need a server distro, and some (e.g. me) want a desktop distro. I think if you look at your needs, then find the distro that best fits those needs, you'll end up with a distro that covers all the "bases".
Because it isn't a big name, that's all. Just visit distrowatch and you'll find that most people are simply downloading distributions which already feature in the top 10. The only way of working your way up there is by being exceptionally good - but apparently Xandros isn't exceptionally better than whatever is used most frequently nowadays. That's just conjecture though, I've never used Xandros so I can't tell. And let's not forget that having to pay $80 first isn't very appealing either when you don't know a thing about Linux yet. It may not work, you may not like it. Free is the better option in that case.
I've been using Linux for over 2 years now (a relative newbie) and am still looking for the "perfect distro". Right now, I am throughly enjoying Fedora Core 7, aside from a resolution problem. It is very quiet, configurable, etc. I installed it then uninstalled all the programs I don't want/need. Now, its very fast, and reliable.
I tend to agree with jay73, the initial cost may possibly put people off. It's not that I wouldn't pay for a distro, I wouldn't grumble one bit at paying for Slack. But I would be a little annoyed if I had to pay for OpenSuSe before realizing that it isn't the distro for me.
Xandros is known for using a fair amount of proprietary software, plus
some customer service gimmicks more akin to the Windows/proprietary
world; maybe not a lot, but still more than other distros. I have
read about Xandros and I got turned off by the idea of having to pay,
getting rewards for paying, etc. Also, Xandros is a desktop-oriented
distro, and although that may be what you want, and many people here
want, it's still a minority of the Linux market.
Try PCLinuxOS. I'm currently addicted to Slackware. Slackware, even
though it's un-hip has still been popular: I always see it near the
top ten or in the top ten at distrowatch, just never #1. Hype will
always beat quality, and I'm sure Patrick Volkerding (Slackware's
Benevolent Dictator) is just fine with that.
I bought Xandros for my brother despite my preference for Fedora. I bought it due to ease of use and (re-)installability by novices. He enjoyed it for a while after predominantly using Windows, then Knoppix.
Do what he did and learn about/get comfortable with Linux until you need something more. (He wanted to install software that needed to be compiled on Xandros, but knew that Fedora and Ubuntu had packages for it.)
You may eventually want to use something more basic (and possibly faster and more configurable) and put more together yourself.
I've been putting off installing Gentoo for a while but I look at it as my next step (or maybe Slackware). Then maybe custom building Linux/linux-from-scratch (http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/)
But take the time to find things that you need from Linux and check back on this site on what distros might offer it. Great question, by the way, but I say use Xandros unless/until you have needs that draw you away from it.
Xandros does have a zero-cost variant, although they don't do much about publicising it.
I think one of the reasons that Xandros doesn't have much 'mind-share' among long-term linux users is that they always seem a bit evasive about the 'free/non-free/proprietary' issues and as many of the long-term Linux users are ideologically committed to free software, its not what they want and so its not what they advise others to try.
Certainly, I would characterise Xandrox as a perfectly good beginner's distro (and more than just a beginner's distro) - probably among the best.
I completely agree with the comment:
But take the time to find things that you need from Linux and check back on this site on what distros might offer it.
far too many newbies obsess about the best distro to use, without even being sure what they want from Linux and what their preferences are.
I must admit, I have never considered Xandros. Having a look around just now, it doesn't seem it has much to stand out with, other then not publishing its free version very widely. So only reason might be for people who doesn't have a fast net connection.
But then others can ship CDs and DVDs for a small feee too. Also easier dowloadable ones like PCLinuxOs are also more relaxed with adding supposedly proprietary software (for e.g. playing DVDs and MP3s).
As for paid for support, it needs to be very good when you have places like LQ to go to for no cost at all
I guess its basic marketing in the end. With such a crowded field you need something to stand out.