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As Linux fans converge on New York for LinuxWorld this week, it’s easy to see that the Linux faithful have much to be excited about.

Although the open-source operating system has flourished on enterprise servers during the last few years, the desktop market has failed to really mount a serious attack on Microsoft Corp.’s dominant Windows franchise—until now. The recent releases of two desktop operating systems—Xandros Inc.’s Xandros Desktop OS 2.0 and Lindows.com Inc.’s LindowsOS 4.5—show just how far Linux has come on the desktop.

Although the open-source operating system has flourished on enterprise servers during the last few years, the desktop market has failed to really mount a serious attack on Microsoft Corp.’s dominant Windows franchise—until now. The recent releases of two desktop operating systems—Xandros Inc.’s Xandros Desktop OS 2.0 and Lindows.com Inc.’s LindowsOS 4.5—show just how far Linux has come on the desktop.

In terms of cost, features and ease of use, eWEEK Labs found Xandros Desktop OS 2.0 and LindowsOS 4.5 to be worthy contenders as Windows desktop replacements for those organizations looking to loosen Microsoft’s grip on their computing environments.

Xandros Desktop OS 2.0 and LindowsOS 4.5 are easy to install and enable users to easily create and share files and interact with users on other platforms almost seamlessly out of the box. However, both products provide much hand-holding, so savvier users would likely prefer Red Hat Inc.’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 desktop, which enables users to extensively customize the look and feel of the operating system.

Beyond straight office work, both operating systems are equipped with multimedia features, including the ability to play MPEG files, Macromedia Inc. Flash movies, streaming video and a variety of audio files. Neither package’s Web browser had problems with Java applications in our tests.

Although Xandros Desktop OS 2.0 edged LindowsOS 4.5 in our tests, we believe both desktop Linux systems are worthy of serious consideration for those unfamiliar with Linux.

Click here to read the Labs’ full review of LindowsOS 4.5.