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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

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.