Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: AppDynamics Blog, Liz McMillan, Jim Scott, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Xandros on the Desktop Means Business

A talk with Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein, director of Xandros, Inc.

With a new business desktop, a "Best Front Office Solution" award, and an expanding product line, things are looking good for Xandros. LWM Editor-in-Chief Kevin Bedell spoke with Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein at LinuxWorld Expo; here he shares the history of Xandros and, more important, what he sees in the future.

LWM: So, Frederick, tell us a little bit about Xandros and where it came from.
Xandros originally came from the acquisition of the former Corel Linux Business Division by a group of investors called Linux Global Partners. That took place in 2001, and it was sort of the last major acquisition that Linux Global Partners did after they invested in and started some of the best-known companies in the Linux world today. For instance, Linux Global Partners started Ximian, which was sold to Novell this past summer, and Linux Global Partners also started CodeWeavers, which is famous for the CrossOver Office applications.

LWM: That's pretty interesting; I hadn't realized they were involved in those other projects. So you acquired what had been the Linux group from Corel - what was the motivation behind that?
When Linux Global Partners was originally started, our idea was that in order to make a viable alternative to the Windows desktop we would need to invest in the technologies and applications that we felt were essential for people using a desktop on a day-to-day basis. Our ultimate idea at that point, that was 1998, was that at sometime in the future we would take all of these applications and technologies, and go to one of the major distributors and say, "Let's do a joint venture - your distribution, our applications." But what happened was Corel came out with an award-winning Linux desktop, and after a year of very successful selling, they came to us and said, "Let's do a joint venture." Along the way Corel ran into some financial difficulties; they took an investment from Microsoft and decided to divest themselves of the Linux Business Division, which gave us the opportunity to acquire a distribution rather than do a joint venture. After that acquisition, we renamed the company Xandros, and that's how Xandros was born.

LWM: There are so many distributions - how would you position Xandros among the different distributions available today?
I think of the commercially viable distributions, the real difference is that Xandros has an extended business plan that is logically thought out. We started with the consumer market, precisely because the consumer is in one or another way the most demanding user. He's the most dependent; he needs to have things done mostly for him. We wanted a proof-of-concept that if we put out a desktop that was easy to install, totally familiar to Windows users, and totally compatible with Microsoft files, that people would simply be able to install it and go back to work. This has garnered reviews from people saying about our 1.0 product, "It just works." Everything works right out of the box. About our 2.0 product we got a review yesterday that said "If you're coming from Windows to Linux, this is the distro to buy. It's that good." So we felt that if we could make that proof-of-concept, which is what we've basically spent the first year and a half doing, we would then move on in our logical chain to enterprise products.

We announced today the Xandros Business Desktop and the Xandros Desktop Management Server, or xDMS. We have further plans down the road obviously for server products. There's a logical progression here. I think the other major distributions primarily started off saying, "Let's go after the server market, it's the low-hanging fruit," and that's why they're there. Now they're having second thoughts and saying, "Well, maybe we should do a desktop." It's not because it was thought out that way from the beginning, but simply because it seems to suddenly be a very big and appealing market.

LWM: I've also heard wonderful reviews from people who have used the product. I understand that one of its real strong points is how Windows applications or Windows files can still be used within the Xandros distribution. Can you comment a little on that? Was it a conscious decision?
That was a very conscious decision. Right at the beginning, and several years before Xandros became Xandros, the philosophy that I and Will Rosen, my partner at Linux Global Partners, had adopted was this: the position that other Linux companies were taking at the time of "We're going to give you Linux; it's so much more stable; it's so much more secure; you'll learn how to do things our way and you'll love it," was the wrong way to go.

You have to be realistic and realize that no matter what you're doing, you're selling into a Windows world. Every article about PCs always says Microsoft has 92% of the market, 94% of the market - it's always over 90%, and so the reality is that you're selling into a Windows world. Everybody out there is using a box with Windows on it. So when 1.0 came out it was, amazingly, the only distribution in 2001 that had automatic domain authentication against Microsoft servers. With every other distribution, even if they would allow you to recognize it through one technology or another, you had to go in each time; you had to identify yourself; and you had to authenticate yourself. But the Xandros 1.0 product did automatic domain authentication. Similarly, when 1.1 came out last April very quietly in response to our corporate customers, it was the only Linux distribution - and it's possibly the only one today - that had automatic support for Active Directory Servers. And our feeling is that anybody who doesn't offer those things is pretending that they're not selling into a Windows world. We know we're selling into a Windows world.

As far as support for Microsoft Office files, we put that capability in as well as the ability to install Microsoft Office directly on the Xandros desktop because, at least for the foreseeable future, those are the applications that a lot of people use. Those are the applications where they have 10 or 12 years of data files in Word format and in Excel format, and those are the files that they cannot lose and don't have time to change to some other format. They can't afford to filter them through some other application, with the result being that they sort of get the document but maybe the formatting doesn't come out right, or maybe the macros don't work. They have to just be able to put in the Xandros desktop and go back to work. So it was a very conscious decision.

LWM: So where is Xandros at today - what do you have going on now, and what do you see happening over the next 12 months?
Just on behalf of all the developers we have, the most important thing that's happened in the last day is that we won the "Best Front Office Solution" award here at LinuxWorld Expo. It was a real tribute to the men we have working up in Canada and to their managers; all of them are down here at the show. As far as the future goes, we have announced today the Xandros Business Desktop; we announced xDMS, which is Xandros' wide area deployment manager for enterprises, and we also announced a little bit of the future in terms of thin clients and future server products. We're basically growing our product line as we see that the way we've done things has been successful for consumers, who are the most needy and the most dependent. We're now growing the product line out so that ultimately Xandros will provide an end-to-end solution for every type of user.

LWM: What's the idea behind the Business Desktop? Does it have remote management, remote deployment of applications, remote control of policies? How does that all work?
The Business Desktop includes a variety of features in terms of operating within a mixed network environment that aren't in the Deluxe or Standard versions. The wide area deployment and enterprise management tools are going to be a separate xDMS product that you can schedule to run, for example, every day at midnight. Actually, in the Xandros management server you can make a perfect PC protocol, take a snapshot of it, and deploy that over any number of servers in a network, any number of hosts, or any group of hosts. You can also define specifically, "Okay, this is the perfect arrangement for people who are doing word processing all day; this is the perfect arrangement for people in the accounting department." And you just deploy those specific systems that you've put together to those specific PCs. With the remote management control, for instance, on Xandros networks if you go in and there are security patches or kernel updates, they're automatically downloaded and installed. You can download these things to the management server and you can schedule this - for example, every day at midnight. If there are any critical patches or kernel patches, you can simply apply them to all the PCs that are attached to the management server. So it has very powerful wide area deployment tools and very powerful remote management tools.

LWM: It sounds like you're really listening to the corporate users and trying to provide tools for them to manage whole departments. What's in store for the future?
I think what's going to be in store for the future is continued growth of Linux both on the server side and on the desktop side. I think everybody is kind of familiar with Linux's astronomical growth on the server side - from about 2% of the server market to almost 30% of the server market. And that's basically been based on a CAGR [Compounded Annual Growth Rate] of about 33%. Currently, the CAGR of Linux on the desktop is 44%, so I think what you're going to see is the kind of algorithmic deployment of Linux on both the desktop and the server over the next three to four years. It's going to go from a very small percentage to upwards of 40% on a global basis.

LWM: What industries or markets do you think are going to be the earliest adopters?
I think that governments, because of cost issues as well as security issues, are major Linux clients. Linux is a very cost-effective solution for computers in the school systems. As of this date, 24 countries have had national votes to wire their school systems to the Internet using Linux. So they're already going to have all these students sitting in front of boxes using Linux to do searches on the Internet, and it's a logical progression that they'll use Linux desktops and Linux applications to integrate those results into spreadsheets, reports, and things like that. I think that when you realize that supposedly there are 500 million PCs in use, and that the number of students represented by the 24 countries that have decided to do this is larger than that number, you realize that in 10 or 12 years you're going to have 600 or 700 million students who spent their entire school life in front of a Linux computer, not a Windows computer. I think that there's just astronomical growth and that it's going to be totally algorithmic from this point on.

More Stories By Kevin Bedell

Kevin Bedell, one of the founding editors of, writes and speaks frequently on Linux and open source. He is the director of consulting and training for Black Duck Software.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless Thingies, will discuss and demonstrate how devices and humans can be integrated from a simple clust...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
As enterprises capture more and more data of all types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured – data discovery requirements for business intelligence (BI), Big Data, and predictive analytics initiatives grow more complex. A company’s ability to become data-driven and compete on analytics depends on the speed with which it can provision their analytics applications with all relevant information. The task of finding data has traditionally resided with IT, but now organizations increasingly turn towards data source discovery tools to find the right data, in context, for business users, d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 150 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project manage...
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgeniakhela will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgeniakhela is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing ...
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, will show how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He will use a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors to web services, and cloud integration to connect accounting and data, providing a Bluetooth...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.