Saturday, July 24, 2021

Linspires new direction explained

 For the past year we have internally at PC/OpenSystems LLC launched a project called CLOUD9.  The aim of this project was to create an OS that utilized cloud apps in replacement of traditional desktop applications.  Some of those manifested themselves into Xandros Cloud but we wanted to bring that to all of our desktop users.  Some of the efforts were successful (Xandros Cloud Office 365 was our best seller for our education customers and some of our enterprise customers)  But we wanted to make the best Cloud centric OS that we could.

First, we created a Chromium OS build of Freespire (Which I personally liked) The problem with ChromiumOS was that it relied solely on web apps during our focus groups and user testing we found that some users still want to run some traditional desktop apps (Gimp, Krita, Video editing software, music and video players) and while ChromiumOS has Crostini but it is not enabled by default.  The other issue was it was not easy to install.  This was before Google integrated the Neverware installer.

Second, we created an Android build.  Which again I liked.  But it was still too much of a desktop OS and relied on packages being installed from the Google Play Store.

Third, what culminated in Xandros Cloud which was use our traditional base and to pre-install Google or Microsoft's services.  This was the direction we ultimately decided to go and there are a few reasons.

  1. Ease of use.  Freespire, Linspire and Xandros are by far the easiest Linux distributions for the average computer user.
  2. Software availability.  Not only do users have the ability to use apps from the Ubuntu repositories, native Debain/Ubuntu packages, FlatPak, Appimage and SNAPS but users do not have to rely on some obscure framework which may or may not work and that is in perpetual beta for years on end.  Apps are available to be fully installed on the system and new apps available through the software center.
  3. Users wanted native speed and full availability without having to rely on container technology
  4. User focus groups and beta testing.  During our testing we found that users had much more success with our traditional distributions.  We discovered that users very rarely use LibreOffice and Thunderbird the apps we found they most used were Google Chrome, Gmail and Google Office or Microsoft Office 365 (This includes Word, Excel, Outlook, Teams, OneNote etc.)  
So, we have made several changes to Freespire, Linspire and Xandros.  Linspire and Xandros will now offer cloud apps for the tasks of office suites, calendar, e-mail, and online storage.  What will the new direction offer us?

  • Refined distribution.  Uses less resources and smaller ISO images.
  • It allows us to run on more Intel based Chromebooks that have reached EOL and allows users to take even more advantage of their current hardware investments.  Users and customers will be able to download an ISO and upgrade their current systems.  No new hardware purchases necessary unless that system is older than 5 years.
  • More secure to attacks because of smaller attack surface.
  • There will be less of a need to create custom distributions for customers because of the common base resulting in lower prices for our customers.
  • No preconceived notions of apps and services customers and users want to use.  Customers and users decide for themselves
  • Most state governments, federal facilities, enterprise users and educational facilities already certify Google Chrome in their environments and test their internal and public web properties on Chrome and Chromium.
  • Makes us more competitive with ChromeOS and CloudReady.
  • We will continue to work with Google to make sure that we stay compatible with the Admin console.
What can you expect from the new distributions: 

Freespire 7.7 will continue to be our free to download and redistribute distribution and will not be distributed with proprietary codecs.  Freespire will include, Chrome and IceSSB.  It will also include Geary mail client, games, Parole media player and Rhythmbox.  It will be delivered sans any Google or Microsoft services and users can decide what services they wish to use by default.

Linspire 10 SP 1.5 will include all of Googles services.  Docs, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Keep, YouTube, Google Maps and  Local apps will include Chrome, IceSSB, Video Player, Rhythmbox, Games, Shotwell and Krita.  It will include all proprietary multimedia codecs and  DVD/Blu-Ray support.  

Xandros OpenDesktop 2021 will come in two flavors.  Standard Edition with all the Google services preinstalled and Office 365 edition which will utilize Microsofts web services.  With the Office 365 edition Bing will also be the default homepage and the default search engine in Google Chrome.  Both will ship with .NET Core, Powershell and Visual Studios Code.  Local apps will include, Chrome, Video Player, Rhythmbox, games, Shotwell and Krita for image editing.  Both editions of Xandros OpenDesktop will also include all the proprietary media codecs and DVD/Blu-Ray support 

Xandros OpenServer and Xandros Terminal Services will not be affected by these changes.

We look forward to bringing you these new products and look forward to servicing our customers and users for years to come.

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