Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Anders Wallgren, Yeshim Deniz

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.
Berenstein:
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?
 Berenstein:
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?
Berenstein:
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?
Berenstein:
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?
Berenstein:
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?
Berenstein:
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?
Berenstein:
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?
Berenstein:
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 Linux.SYS-CON.com, 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
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.