2010-09-30

The Ideal Linux Distribution, As I See It

Before I begin this post, if you're wondering how I manage to churn out these posts and still claim to be busy, I will say that I write almost all of these posts on the weekends and then schedule them to automatically publish during the workweek. I don't usually have time to write posts on weekdays.

As I review more distributions, I'm continually fleshing out exactly what I want to see in a distribution. There are a few things that I would like to see in Linux distributions, none of which should be especially hard to do, as some of these features have already been implemented. Here's what I'd like to see:
  • Mozilla Firefox (Rekonq and Arora are acceptable substitutes in KDE; Opera and Google Chrome are also acceptable substitutes anywhere)
  • OpenOffice.org (AbiWord and Gnumeric are acceptable substitutes if the distribution is more lightweight)
  • A graphical package manager
  • Most proprietary codecs either included out-of-the-box or installable by clicking on a highly visible link
  • Support for various peripherals out-of-the-box (especially mice, webcams (and external mics), and printers)
  • Stability and security
  • Rolling releases (just so that installation only needs to be done once)
  • Minimal visible bloat
The ideal candidates for this are PCLinuxOS and Linux Mint "Debian"; both are rolling-release distributions but test their packages extensively to ensure the stability and high quality of the packages. Both include Mozilla Firefox, but only Linux Mint "Debian" offers OpenOffice.org. Both include graphical package managers and most proprietary codecs (out-of-the-box). Finally, both have excellent support for mice, webcams, and printers. As PCLinuxOS doesn't have OpenOffice.org, I'm going to continue with just Linux Mint "Debian".
I would say that the best-looking GNOME theme present today is the Elementary theme, and that Linux Mint "Debian" with Elementary (and things like the Nautilus Elementary mod) would look positively stunning and will age well with the distribution (which doesn't make sense considering the distribution will always have the latest packages). (On a side note, there are some rumblings in various blogs about how Linux Mint may use the Equinox Faenza icon set in version 10 "Julia".) I've already done this with my FreshOS respin of Linux Mint "Debian". So what else would I like to see? Not a whole lot, except for one other thing:
I want to see an installer (and Linux Mint "Debian"'s installer, while adequate, isn't quite up to the level of polish of the Ubuntu-based releases' Ubiquity installer) that gives options for different application categories. What I mean is that if someone is big on multimedia, applications like F-Spot will be replaced by digiKam and OpenShot during the installation. Similarly, if someone needs programming tools, programs like Emacs, Eclipse/Netbeans, and other similar programming utilities could be installed. This way, while the user can always go to the package manager to install and remove packages of his/her choice, there are options in terms of what default applications are present after installation, nicely grouped into different categories.
How does that sound?

11 comments:

  1. Pclinuxos does have OpenOffice, but not on the live/install CD. You can download it using the Get Open Office script that will get all the right parts and localization, even KDE or Gnome integration.

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  2. @Anonymous: Good call. That said, I would still consider Linux Mint "Debian" over PCLinuxOS (though obviously not because of OpenOffice.org) because I find that the former runs faster and on fewer resources than the latter, so it can run on a wider range of hardware. Thanks for the comment!

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  3. Unfortunately neither has x64 version. :(

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  4. Any proof that Mint Debian is faster, on fewer resources and supports a wider range of hardware than PCLinuxOS ?

    If there is I'd like to see it..........

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  5. just try htop - the memory footprint is practically as low as a pure debian install's. And that's the smallest you can get with a pure gnome install.

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  6. @Arup: True, but Linux Mint "Debian" should be coming out with one soon.
    @Anonymous 1: (see Anonymous 2's comment)
    @Anonymous 2: Exactly.
    Thanks for the comments!

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  7. I have been using Mint Debian since it came out. On my old clunker box it works faster then other Ubuntu based OS. However, all OS's with KDE 4.5 seem to run very slow except Chakra which is Arch based.

    Thanks for the review! Paul

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  8. @qa1433: It's funny that you say that, because this is more just my thoughts on the subject rather than a true distribution review (which I have done for both PCLinuxOS and Linux Mint "Debian"); anyway, thanks for the comment!

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  9. I've tried and used Ubuntu, Mint, Mandriva, Fedora, PCLOS, OpenSUSE, Vector Linux, Arch Linux and Puppy Linux. I think the best Gnome for newbies is Linux Mint. Best KDE? Hardly PCLinux. I had to removed it coz it suddenly stopped starting X. Next morning i upgraded Mandriva 2010 to Mandriva 2010 Spring and you know what? It's was splendit ugrade and now that KDE-distro works perfectly. OpenSUSE 11.2 (KDE) was disaster. Only Linux-distro i couldn't even install.

    So my favs to newbies - Mint and Mandriva. Personally i'm mostly using Fedora. My family prefer Linux Mint.

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  10. What are "must" after install operation:

    -install VLC-player
    -install Thunar
    -install Thunderbird (better than Evolution)
    -install Chromium beside Firefox
    -perhaps msttcorefonts (amazing why teachers want my children using MS-fonts on their homework docs)
    -flashplugin
    -Gimp
    -remove Mono
    -Brasero (good one, better than those in Windows)
    -java-plugin (though OpenJDK mostly works but not in all websites)

    Remove Windows OS - you hardly not need it (perhaps 10% need, but Granny and Granpa hardly use AutoCad)

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  11. @Matias: That's strange that PCLinuxOS had those troubles and that openSUSE wouldn't even install. Yeah, I agree with most of what you say in terms of things to add after installation, though I'm not sure about removing Mono, especially because GNOME-Do is so darn useful and Banshee is a decent media player. There are some people for whom Linux alternatives to commercial Windows programs simply will not do, but for the vast majority of people, the best thing to do is make sure they are comfortable with almost all parts of their Linux system before removing Windows. Thanks for the comment!

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