Rxart 3.2 Desktop Linux first impressions
My mother recently bought a new desktop computer in Argentina and it came with Rxart Linux 3.2 pre-installed. There was an option of getting it with Windows Vista Basic, of course, but it was more expensive.
I didn’t know about this Linux distro before, because it has been “created” and supported by an argentinian company (Pixart Argentina). By looking at their web site, I can see that they have started to commercialize it in other countries in Latin America, and that they have agreements with several big retailers that are allowing them to quickly spread their user base (they sold 350.000 licences on 2005).
Rxart Linux is just another distro based on Debian (apparently it’s using version 3.1 – Sarge, but I’m not sure). I also couldn’t find the distro on the Debian based distros official page and they still haven’t been reviewed on Distrowatch.
Apart from that, what I find most interesting about this company and their distribution is that they are contributing to spread Linux among home users in Latin America. Of course, that is not a simple task and surely many users will decide to install an illegal version of Windows XP or Vista, but probably some other users will keep their copy of Rxart Linux because it provides everything they need to surf the web (using Iceweasel), to chat (using Amsn), and to write documents with OpenOffice.
They have also included some commercial software on their distro, and I think that they have made a good choice. For those users that still want to use Microsoft Office or Microsoft Internet Explorer, they have included CrossOver. They also include some proprietary drivers for the most common hardware. I only uninstalled one commercial application, Panda Antivirus, because I don’t like it and Linux is secure enough.
From what I could see, the distro is very much oriented to people that don’t want to care about which operating system they are using, and they have added several aids to make the most common tasks in a home scenario very easy. They have also tried to give it a “Vista” look, which is also something very valuable for most users. You can see it in the two screenshots below:
Like in many other cases in the software industry, sometimes this kind of small companies are given a chance by the big players (in this case Microsoft) when they don’t fullfill all of their users needs. Many computers sold in Latin America are acceptably fast for home users, but many times they don’t meet the basic requirements and perform very bad when using Windows Vista. To make things worse, Microsoft has almost stopped selling its Windows XP and is only supporting Service Pack 2 and 3 until April 2009, what leaves users with limited options.
The only problem that I found is that sometimes, the more advanced users can feel a bit limited with some of the tools provided. One of the things that I found a little too much simplified was Rxart Control Panel. Of course that an advanced user doesn’t need such tools, but maybe those screens should have an “advanced options” button. I also believe that Pixart package repositories might not have all the packages that come with Debian.
To sum up, I think that in general we can say that Rxart Linux Desktop 3.2 is well suited for home users and that if Pixart Argentina provides a good level of support (they should improve their user forums) they can make a profitable business in Latin America and they can help extend open source among many people.