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

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  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. 

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com