Shipping Version of Presto Linux Makes Netbook Users Long for the Beta

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2009-04-20 Email Print this article Print

Xandros launches Presto, a $19 Linux distribution that should have been just what the netbook market needed to stave off Windows 7 Starter Edition.

Xandros has officially launched Presto, a Linux distribution targeted at users who want instant booting, ease of use and speed.

Xandros originally envisioned Presto as a secondary operating system that users would install on their systems alongside Windows. The idea was to allow a user to quickly boot their system for a minor task or to surf the Web, leaving Windows for more important tasks.

Interestingly, all of the things that make Presto a good secondary OS are the same that would make Presto a good primary OS on a netbook computer. After all, netbooks are optimized for surfing the Web and performing minor tasks. In fact, when we took a look at the beta version of Presto, we were impressed at how well the OS worked and were looking forward to the shipping version of the product. 

But Xandros dropped the ball and has turned the shipping version of Presto into something that beta testers were not looking for. Xandros seems to have taken several steps back with Presto 1.0, eliminating some of the features and much of the speed that were found in the beta version.

We tested Presto 1.0 on a few different systems and found that the shipping version failed to install on a Dell Mini 9 netbook, frequently locked up on a Fujitsu T series Convertible (which it had worked flawlessly on before), failed to recognize integrated Wi-Fi on a Lenovo T61p, and gave us several random problems on an HP Mini 1000.

We also noticed that while the boot-up of Presto was still fast, applications seemed to launch slower than in the beta version. Also, on some systems, selecting shutdown caused the system to freeze, instead of shutting down in just seconds as was the case with the beta version.

Of course, the shipping version isn’t all bad—Xandros did improve the interaction with the Presto Application Store, an online repository of popular Linux applications. But, even so, users should probably wait until Version 1.1 before plunking down any money on Presto or, at the very least, give the product a thorough try with the five-day "demo" version before buying a license.

Also, users looking for a reliable and smooth experience with Linux on a netbook system should give the Ubuntu Netbook Remix distribution a try before taking a chance with Presto. 


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