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BOSTON—Xandros Inc. has announced improvements in its distribution of a desktop version of Linux as well as a completely new version aimed at Windows users. Xandros executives also said they were using this week’s LinuxWorld as a venue to recruit channel partners to sell the new software.

The main improvement to its desktop product is a 30 MB service patch that includes all improvements and fixes needed to make the Xandros distribution current with the latest version of Debian (sarge), a community-developed version of Linux, to which Xandros adds file managers, the KBE graphical user interface and other ease-of-use features. The patch builds on the recent Xandros 3 Desktop release. This release, Erich Forler, Xandros’ senior product development manager, was to bring Xandros in line with the latest version of Debian Sarge, the community-based Linux that Xandros uses as its foundation. Xandros is also adding the the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client, both of which are also open-source products, via the Xandros Network update service, which features easy to install, open-source programs and system updates.

The updated Xandros Desktop line also will include ClamAV, an open source anti-virus program with a Xandros-supplied GUI-front end, and a firewall wizard to make security settings easier to manage.

Xandros also announced that it will bundle Skype VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software with its desktop line. Xandros is also releasing a new, consumer version of its desktop called SurfSide, which includes a Plantronics Audio 50 USB headset. This product will retail for $99.

This release is aimed straight at home Windows users, who are suffering from epidemics of spyware, adware, viruses and other security problems that are much less of a problem with Linux, according to Erich Forler, Xandros’ senior product development manager.

The company is also releasing a free version of the operating system, called Open Circulation Edition of Xandros Desktop. This version lacks virtual private networking capability, a graphical firewall interface and other add-ons, but does include the basic system and applications like Mozilla, Firefox, Skype, and Thunderbird.

Version 3.0 of the more feature-rich business version of the OS will ship later this year and include Star Office 7 and Active Directory integration.

The company is also launching a new multi-tiered ‘Easy Choice, Easy Money’ channel program, Brian Colgan, Xandros’ director of partner and corporate sales.

Partners will become eligible for either “gold” or “platinum” discount status once their staff completes either on site or online training to become certified Xandros salespersons, technicians, and engineers.

The program will also include sales help and free in-house use copies of Xandros programs, including the business desktop deployment solution xDMS (Xandros Management Server).

xDMS is used to deploy and push updates to networked Xandros system in a corporate LAN.

Troy Backus, network manager for the Kerr Group, a Lancaster, Penn.-based manufacturing company with over $500-million a year in gross income, uses xDMS to deploy and manage Xandros at his company.

“We’re now replacing legacy Win 95 and 98 boxes that do production monitoring,” Backus said.

Backus has found that both the deployment program and the desktop itself works well. “We just put all the desktop information on a server repository. If we need to add say Star Office to our desktops, I just drag the Star Office deployment package to the installer, tell it when to do the update and all that’s required is that the computer be on.”

Integrators should also note that with xDMS, Backus has found that.” I don’t have to have a tech person on site, or have CDs wandering around. It’s just schedule and push it and software removal is just as easy.”

“Even if someone screws up a desktop, I can refresh the system remotely. I also automatically replace the desktops with the default system every Saturday at 2 AM with the image so the desktops are always brand new. I love it,” Backus said.