The Perfect Linux Distro

I talk a lot about what I think is wrong with the current state of Desktop Linux.  And I spend a fair bit of time talking about what I think can be done to improve it, and which applications I like the most.

So I figured, why not collect my notes together…

And lay out, piece-by-piece, what I think would be the ultimate Linux Desktop Distribution.  And, when I say ultimate.  I mean ultimate.  The best eye candy.  The best media related apps.  The best usability.  The kind of Linux distro that, out of the box, knocks peoples socks off and makes Windows and MacOS X die-hards lay down their swords and declare this new Linux distro “totally teh rad“.

My focus here is primarily to use existing projects and applications.  Re-inventing the wheel is boring.


Let’s start from the ground up.

The Base

Debian or Ubuntu.  This is the most widely used base on the desktop.  Debian stock, Ubuntu and Linux Mint make up for a huge percentage of Linux Desktop usage.  So this simply makes sense.

Ya know what?  Let’s go with Ubuntu.  It already has many of the pieces we’ll need (Restricted Hardware manager, etc.).

Package Format / Package Manager

Since we’re going debian… let’s go with .deb for the package format as well.  That way we can be more sure of package compatibility with the “big boys”.  And, while we’re at it, let’s go with apt.  It works.

As a wise man once said: If it ain’t broke, don’t freaking mess with it.

gnome2Desktop Environment

This is a harder one.

KDE4 is rad.  Very, very rad.

QT, upon which KDE is built, is also rad.

On the flip-side, a Gnome desktop can be made to be pretty rad too.

And many of the applications that I’m going to want to include are GTK based.

So we’re going Gnome.  Sorry KDE.

The Dock

We’re going to include a dock by default.  I know many of you don’t like docks.  Get over it.  Having a dock helps to show new users what’s available on their newly installed OS in an attractive (and easy to understand) way.

CairoDock?  Sure.  It works.  AWN?  Also works.  Either one will suit this purpose just fine…

But we’re going with Gnome-Do’s new dock.

Why?  Because Gnome-Do is awesome.  That’s why.



Default system fonts need to change.  Also wouldn’t hurt to license a few fonts from Blambot.  Get some professional, high quality (and cool looking) fonts in here.

Ya know… spice things up a bit.

jupiteroneioss3Themes / Icons

There are some freaking amazing themes and icon sets already available.  Pick two that work well together and use them.

Then get to work on some great backgrounds.  It’s not that hard.

Here’s an example just to get you rolling.

The Application Store

You had to know this was coming, right?

We need the major distros to step up to the plate and include an application store (a nice, desktop application, from which users can easily purchase commercial software and services for their Linux desktop).  This is absolutely a necessity.

Oh.  Look at that.  Click N Run.  It exists.  And it works on Ubuntu based distros.

Boom.  Done.

Strict Package Updating Rules

This is a simple one, but one worth calling out.  One that is best described via an example…

Hypothetical scenario: releases an update.  And a bunch of other distros grab it and their intel graphics cards stop working so well.

What we do: Absolutely nothing.  We stayed with the older  And, would ya look at that, our intel graphics cards are still working.

Office Suite

This is also a tough one.  The new KOffice is really nice.  But OpenOffice works, and works well.  So that’s what we’ll use.

Audio / Video Framework

Scream it from the mountain tops:  GStreamer is king.

screenshot-miroVideo Player

There’s this awesome application called Miro (used to be Democracy Player).

It’s there.  And it’s off the charts cool.  By including it, by default, this Linux distro just became the coolest platform for finding and watching online video content.

Media Center

Windows has Windows Media Center.  OS X has Front Row.

What do we have?  Currently… most distros don’t ship anything in this category of application.

But there are several options.

My choice is Moovida (formerly Elisa).  It’s commercially backed.  Uses GStreamer.  Is more powerful than Apple’s Front Row.  And it looks awesome.

banshee-slide-dapAudio Player

Banshee.  See how easy that was?

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  Amarok is great.  Rhythmbox works.

But Banshee is designed in such a way as to be approachable for people coming from several other music managers.  And it looks good.  So it’s settled.

Audio Editor

“But wait,” you’re asking, “those other operating systems don’t ship with super cool audio editing software.  Why does Linux need to?”

We can either settle for mediocrity or we can take the lead.  It’s up to us.

Now audio editing is not Linux’s strength.  Ardour is awesome.  But not very approachable.

So we’re going to go with Jokosher.  It’s easy to pick up and use for the average dude who just wants to record a little tune or podcast.

400px-capture-pitivi_v01301Video Editor

PitiviCommercially backed.  Advancing rapidly.  Also using Gstreamer for the back end.  It’s got a ways to go before it’s going to compete with iMovie… but we’ve got to start somewhere.  And if we focus on one key app in each category, progress will be made much faster.

Photo Management


In my not-so-humble opinion, F-Spot compares incredibly well with the consumer offerings from both Apple and Microsoft in this space.


Most distros ship with about a dozen games.  Most of which… nobody ever plays.

Time to step up and ship with 2 or three really solid games.

Let’s go wit Yo Frankie! to show that Linux is just as capable for games as any other platform.

And Hedgewars because it’s fun.  And we need to have something fun and multiplayer.

And… oh heck.  Frozen Bubble to have something more casual.


No more Pidgin.  Pidgin is out.

In rolls Empathy.  It’s a better design.

How about for video and audio chat?

Ekiga?  Nay.


“Say whuuuut?  But, Bryan, Skype is closed source!”

Yeah.  I know.  Get over it.  Skype works.  Everyone uses it.  And so do we.

Web Browsing

Firefox.  It’s there.  People know it.


Evolution will do just dandy.  It integrates will with the Gnome desktop and provides enough of the more advanced features that many people will need.

Development Environment

Windows developers use Visual Studio.  Mac developers use XCode.

Sure.  There are exceptions to that rule (as there should be), but those are the gold standards for their respective platform.

Having one “standard” development toolset that is officially “blessed” by the creator of that operating system has many great effects, including : Focusing development on key features instead of reinventing the wheel, building a larger base of developers from which to hire, etc.

ss-steticThere’s lots of options here.  QT Creator is great… but this is a Gnome desktop.

So what’s the most accessible and feature rich IDE available currently for Gnome applications?  And which one gives developers direct access to the widest array of frameworks from which to build great applications?


I know.  I know.  “Mono is bad cuz of teh Microsoft.”  If you genuinely believe that then you are not likely an actual (professional) software developer and should probably spend your time worrying about something else.

MonoDevelop is a great tool.  There.  It’s decided.


air_appiconIn an effort to make this desktop friendly to those switching from other platforms, and to increase the amount of software and functionality of the desktop…

Flash is installed by default.

And, you know what?  While we’re at it… so it AIR.

Which means that applications like Twhirl, etc can now be installed and run without the user ever having to know about Flash or AIR themselves.

Huh.  Look at that!  Using nothing but existing projects we have a new Linux distro that:

  1. Is more stable (ie, less code changes between major releases) than the primary major distros out there.
  2. Looks better than current Ubuntu, Suse or Fedora (or Windows… or OS X).
  3. Showcases the gaming potential of Linux desktops.
  4. Has, out of the box, Audio and Video editing software that is accessible for normal users.
  5. Has a more “discoverable” interface (ie, thanks to the dock it is easier to showcase the great applications available right away).
  6. Allows for a larger software ecosystem by including a way for companies to sell their commercial software directly.

Could of the existing distros get to this point easily?  Yes.

Will they?  Man.  I sure hope so.

Because it would be awesome.

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122 Responses to “The Perfect Linux Distro”

  1. Benjamin M. Strozykowski says:

    Very awesome ideas, and an interesting post. As always, I have a few comments:

    1. Why not make the Strict Package Update rules default, but allow a so-called “power user” to work at their own risk?

    2. Air doesn’t work with 64-bit Linux. (Obviously, this is all hypothetical, so we can say Adobe will make it 64-bit Linux compatible.)

    3. Fonts: How about licensing all of the fonts that are capable of being used on the web with Mac OS X & Windows? Stuff like Helvetica, which is very nice, clean and professional?

    4. Adobe needs to adopt Linux (x86/x86_64) in its Creative Suite family. (If they did, my house would quickly become a Windows-free zone)

    Just my $0.02

  2. Jeff says:

    This right here is why I love Linux. There’s plenty of choice out there. Since I don’t agree with you on what makes “zomg teh best linux EVAR!”, I’m not screwed. I just go somewhere else.

    If I could figure out how to make Gstreamer not suck, I might be inclined to agree. But on my rigs it can’t keep up with DVD playback, so I say nay.

  3. dontcryforme says:

    > Strict Package Updating Rules
    I think you could state it like this: Keep the base system conservative and stable. I.e. Kernel,, Audiosystem, CUPS, even Gnome
    But update desktop applications to latest versions quickly: games, Firefox, Gnome-do, Skype, Empathy, Miro/Democracy.

    Your software choices are great! I’m looking forward to a distro like that!

  4. Alex Shenoy says:

    I like that you chose to use .deb for the package format. I really like Ubuntu and Debian. Although, I will say the most *annoying* thing to me is that no package management system gives you the ability to roll back to older packages when something breaks.

    I think it would be sweet to have a package management system similar to Adobe’s AIR installer. I have been thinking about some ways to improve package management and I might be blogging about them in a day or so. I’ll let you know.

  5. Jeff says:

    That’s not necessarily the fault of a package manager. Most every distro I’ve used, when a new version of a program comes out, the previous version is removed from the repositories. Only exception I can think of, off the top of my head, is Gentoo. You can tell Portage (and probably Paludis, though I haven’t used it) to install a specific version of a program because several versions of nearly every program stay in the Portage tree.

  6. Jason Stapels says:

    I think there’s one big problem with your ‘uber’ distro. By introducing “commercialized” applications from Adobe & Skype and making them part of your base you’re giving up control of some of the fundamental pieces of your system. This will cause a lot of problems when things go wrong and users want support from you.

    Essentially by only including in-house and open-source applications, Canonical at least has the ability to fix things themselves. You won’t be able to do that and when stuff “goes wrong” you’re going to be forced to switch to someone else’s implementation which will be frustrating for the end-user.

    For example, Skype does work decent in gnome but the linux client is still way behind the Windows client in terms of usability. What happens if they never make it any better? Flash has the same problem in terms of performance, as it still runs quicker under a virtualized windows environment than is does natively on Linux. You (the distro) can’t make it any better, you’re stuck with it.

    If you look at Microsoft and Apple, they develop all their core components in-house (or at least bought the company that created them) so when bugs do come up they can at least fix them.

    PS – I would argue that Eclipse would work just as well as MonoDevelop for the IDE but with much greater flexibility. In fact, why include Adobe AIR but not mention the inclusion of Java?

  7. Tim says:

    Not bad. Call it the Perfect Gnome Distro and everybody will be happy I guess.

    I agree that the base packages should be more stable and change to broken states, but the appstore should allow for newer versions of OO.o or Firefox etc to be installed with just one Click.

    It is really time that Canonical wraps a cool CNR-like app center around all the PPAs etc.

    CNR itself had its chance and is not going to work ..

    BUT, if I were as rich as Mark Sh. I would hire lots of C++ and Python devs to polish KDE4 and add a few enterprise apps. At the moment the problem for KDE is that there is no big commercial company backing it. Yeah Suse and Mandriva have a few devs, but that doesn’t compare to all the employed Gnome devs that are out there.
    KDE devs can compete anyways because their dev tools are so much better. Qt is lightyears ahead of GTK and with a few millions in backing KDE4 would have blown everything out of the water by now.

  8. Alex Shenoy says:


    When you download the packages, they are stored locally on the system. There should be an option to do a revert to the older packages. You wouldn’t even need the repository to keep older versions of software. You can have apt say, “I will keep the old version of this software, unless the user removes it.” Let the user know. Have an option for how long to keep old packages(if at all).

    Then you have the package locally, apt could just uninstall the new packages and reinstall the old ones. That solves the problem. But no package manager does this. Some users would argue this creates bloat, but I would be willing to sacrifice some disk space (especially as cheap as it is right now) to not have to do a complete reinstall b/c an update broke has crashing problems and i can’t go back to old versions.

    I knew gentoo let you set restrictions on the version number. Used to run gentoo actually liked it. Just didn’t have the time to recompile new packages every update while i am in school.

  9. Yaro says:

    I use Arch, which has probably the single best package management system I’ve ever seen on a Linux distribution.


    Dependency resolution is even better than the Debian system.

    And to those worrying about installing regressions: As long as you don’t clear your package cache, you will likely have multiple versions of one package stored in /var/cache/pacman/pkg/

    So, for example. I have a package installed that pacman updates… which doesn’t work or breaks something. I open the terminal, cd to the cache, and:

    sudo pacman -U (Last version of package), and it’ll downgrade. Then I can change pacman.conf to let it know NOT to upgrade that package until I can find a fix/newer package comes downstream.

    This has one caveat, however: I don’t tell pacman to clear its package cache! Once that’s cleared, I’m SOL.

    Fortunately, I haven’t had any problems with Arch’s packages. They test them thoroughly and do signoffs. I love a rolling release model. I think Ubuntu would be even better if it did that instead, then the Ubuntu devs would actually spend more time on quality for once.

  10. truzicic says:

    Slack > Ubuntu
    Package manager? I solve dependencies on my own…
    KDE > Gnome
    wbar > GnomeDo
    Video player, Media center, Music player??? Xine and audacious, everything more is overkill…
    A/V editor? Who needs that?
    Pidgin still kicks ass…
    DE??? One word – ViM
    So? Your uberUltimateDistro IMHO sucks…
    But, choice is beauty of Linux… Nice article, btw…

  11. Alex says:

    “A/V editor? Who needs that?”

    Well, me, for one.

    I think this is a good idea, but I don’t really agree with all the software choices and whatnot. I don’t understand what advantages Empathy has over Pidgin…

    But nevertheless, I completely agree that there should be a Linux distro that is geared to combine everything good about Linux and eliminate the biggest issues, to really break it into the mainstream. But one big concern that should be taken into account is NETWORKING!!!! I cannot tell you how much pain I have felt when trying to get Linux networks working right. Although I know a lot of that is a hardware compatibility problem because of greedy companies…

    And Banshee is definitely the best music player choice, as a standard!

  12. LinuxLover says:

    As soon as I saw Ubuntu, I knew I didn’t need to bother reading the rest of this…

    Hey, if you like Ubuntu, good for you. But, please remember, that the majority of desktops aren’t Ubuntu or Debian based at all. They do make up a large amount, but there are plenty of Fedora, OpenSuse, Mandriva, and Slackware (and derivatives of those distros like PCLinuxOS) users out there. Linux does not equal Ubunutu…

  13. Vikram Nilakantan says:

    Great Ideas! – I feel that you have basically addressed the needs of the basic viewer, and especially showing the best of what is available out there.

    @truzicic – Not everyone likes looking for dependencies on their own especially people who are new to Linux and may not even know how to solve dependencies on their own.

    Overall, I hope distros pick up these programs + features really soon!

  14. arbulus says:

    You are an example of a power user who knows his OS and wants complete and total control over it. And I don’t fault you for that. It’s awesome that you have the choice to use your computer in a way that is suitable to you.

    But you are in the minority.

    Even in the Linux community.

    Average users do not want to manage dependencies. Hell, I’m a power user and the thought of a package manager not dealing with dependencies automatically makes my blood boil. openSUSE 10.3 sent me into a berserker fury of dependency hell. Modern software should do this for you. Period.

    Average users want lifestyle apps. They want jukebox apps, they want A/V editors, they don’t see the functionality of iTunes or Windows Media Player as “overkill.” They see it as necessary. Average users want application suites like iLife. That’s what makes computers or operating systems appealing to average consumers.

    ViM? Try telling your average user that they have to have a cheat sheet of keyboard commands just to type a document. It isn’t going to happen.

    Average users do not want to EVER look at a command line. Ever. And they should never be made to. Modern software is advanced enough that they simply don’t have to. The command line should always be there if someone WANTS to use it, but users should never HAVE to use it. Everything should be handled in the GUI. Period.

    The thing is, average users don’t want as much “choice” as you would think they do. They want just a few, simple options and they want the software to be easy to use. Simplifying the options and helping the operating system work for the user and not making the user work for the operating system is what is going to propel the Linux desktop.

  15. Johan says:

    I enjoy the ideas behind GoboLinux, where you can have multiple versions of applications, libraries, etc, and just symlink the one you want as “default”. Managing multiple versions of a piece of software is really hard on Linux, if you’re not compiling everything manually and setting paths and stuff. This is somethingn not being mentioned very often, but I think it should be.

    Otherwise Bryan, you got my vote. I couldn’t care less about Adobe Air though. But just for not reving as soon as you can.. That’s an upside in my book.

  16. stlouisubntu says:

    Let’s see Gnome-Do, Banshee, F-Spot, Mono-develop . . .

    You must be a mono developer or at least you really do have a propensity for mono apps. Frankly, I would prefer fewer mono-apps and there is an equally good alternative to each and every mono app (think gnote.)

    On the other hand you have made some good suggestions (notwithstanding the mono recommendations.) I like the games ideas.

    However, I much prefer thunderbird to evolution (less buggy) and prefer pidgin (have used any other on linux but it works good.)

  17. Arnold Benton says:

    Good god, you’re going out of your way to turn Linux into just another patent-infested closed-source wasteland. We already have those in Windows and Mac. When you don’t value Free and Open Source software, you’re missing the whole point and just going for free as in freeloader.

  18. Andrew says:

    Why did your applications drive your GNOME DE decision? Why were you so quick to dismiss QT-based applications under GNOME?

    Before I started using Linux, I agonized over the GNOME vs. KDE decision. I quickly found out that you can run QT-based applications under GNOME and GTK+-based applications under KDE. It costs you a little overhead having to have two graphics libraries loaded, but the overhead isn’t noticable in “moderate” hardware. For example, on a 6-year old PC, I prefer the Dolphin file manager instead of Nautilus in GNOME; I haven’t had any problems running GIMP in KDE, either.

    I don’t have strong opinions about your software choices, but your aricle propogates the misconception that the choice of desktop environment places limitations on the applications you can use.

  19. King InuYasha says:

    I love all the ideas except for that it is Ubuntu based.

    Being Ubuntu based is alright I guess. But most commercial software will not make a DEB package, simply because it is a pain in the butt to integrate unless they are specifically using Debian machines already to code the application itself.

    Most of the time, this is simply not the case. Incidentally, this is why RPM is typically used for commercial software unless a Debian-backing company repackages, like Canonical.

    This actually might be why RPM was chosen for the LSB specification. So, if I had to choose a base to work with, I would choose Fedora. It follows the LSB pretty well, and with their policy of working upstream as much as possible, its pretty friendly to remixing.

    In my personal opinion, it’s easier to remix a Fedora based distro than a Ubuntu one, but meh.

    Some time ago, way back at Fedora 8’s release when there was interest in the Jupiter Linux project, I actually made a version of Fedora 8 privately that was rebranded and included exactly what you are talking about, minus the Mono stuff and AIR. Flash and Skype, etc. were added in, GNOME was the chosen DE, the works. I actually still have that kickstart file around somewhere, but it would be better to start from scratch and remake the jupiter-logos that I did for Fedora 8… Unless you WANTED to use that as a base?

    Honestly, I think the best way to do this would be to showcase it. Make a couple of example distros. But of course, to do that with commercial software, you would have to talk to the companies behind those softwares for distribution rights if it isn’t already allowed.

    I could very easily do it, but legal niceties must be observed.

    Bryan’s One Truth Prevails: The Perfect Linux Distro needs a mix of commercial and open source, whatever works and fits!

  20. Mike-Linux-NL says:

    In my opinion Ubuntu would not be ideal as the ultimate linux distro. It still has a lot of issues. Nvidia still does not work very good in ubuntu, sometimes you see tearing during animations and desktop effects. In opensuse i dont have that problem.In ubuntu or Gnome you have to type sudo a lot for almost anything. The commandline is powerfull, i know but come on! its freegin 2009! EVERYTHING should be GUI based.

    if i want nautilus to open as root, i only can do it via a shell terminal,and not quickly like in kde 3.5 with alt+f2 and then kdesu Konqueror.Gksudo nautilus might work, but come on, we are still using commands. like i said, more GUI based. that keeps it simple and usable. or do you see windows users use CMD all the time? no.

    Ubuntu/gnome uses pulseaudio, wich i absolutely hate. its out there for a while now, and with every new release there are new issues and errors. Also skype wont work properly when pulseaudio is installed on the system.i say, DROP PULSE AUDIO.

    The thing i do like is the install/remove app in ubuntu. nice overview with detailed information and rating. however, for some things like the mplayer plugin i still need to open synaptic. i say: move all synaptic options to the nice install/remove application, so you have 1 main package manager, and it looks so nice, that you dont need CNR.

    Flashplayer should be optimized for linux in general. it does not work well and uses a whole lot of cpu and memory.
    Adobe needs to finally step up and adopt linux as a serious operating system and also include CS4.

    In my opinion the ideal desktop should not be GTK based. i know a lot of developers make software for gtk, but QT4 just looks better. The best thing would be if KDE had made KDE4 just like KDE 3.5 but then in QT only style. no plasma desktop but just like KDE 3.5. The KDE team are re inventing the wheel here, while they should have taken KDE 3.5.10 as base. its 3x faster, less recourcehungry, and most important, its stable!

    and why should the ideal linux distro have a dock? i think users should decide for themselves. taskbar users use windows, and dockusers use OSX. i think the linux users should keep deciding for themselves what they like most.

    We also need a very good control panel type of thing in linux. and i think the app that is the best, is yast. it has a package manager, but also very enhanced system settings features, that covers settings for beginners, and professionals.

    My ideal Linux desktop would be a mixture of:

    – theming ability like in ubuntu
    – KDE 4 look (slick and modern and transparancy)
    – ease of use as kde 3.5.10 (opensuse)
    – QT style everywhere
    – yast style control panel
    – choice of well supported dock or taskbar
    – more GUI based solutions and less commandline.
    – well supported and FAST adobe flash and air and CS4
    – software install like install/remove in ubuntu
    – move synaptic to install/remove (1 app for all!)
    – newer compiz fusion
    – no gconf! its not easy to use!
    – as media player, a combo of kaffeine and amarok
    – xmbc or boxee as media center
    – for irc: Konversation! man, that client is great!
    – IM: pidgin is very nice but should work on file transfer!

    i think for the most part , that lineup covers MY ideal linux desktop.

  21. Jason Smith says:

    The pro, pro-am, and business Linux world cannot gain more momentum without consolidation. It’s time to shit or get off the pot. Ubuntu is closest to having critical mass so let’s take that and run with it. With a base platform of free software, mainstream consolidation is not a threat but an opportunity. (I could be persuaded to exclude the non-free parts; but I do agree that Skype and AIR are worth considering.)

    Finally, Mono is free software; and given its inclusion by default in the mainstream distributions, those who spread FUD about mono are coming dangerously close to conspiracy theory territory.

  22. matthew says:

    I think that the main thing you missed here is Eclipse and Netbeans, both are good, Eclipse maybe a little better. Why would you ever use mono, haven’t any of you heard of eclipse??

  23. Jesse says:

    I wouldn’t use half of these apps and even then… you don’t need a new distro just to use empathy, skype, your favorite icons, etc. You can add them to quite a few distros already made, distros with extensive support communities.

    Ground up? A fully functioning OS is not the ground, I realize that you’re a “professional” software developer using all might amazingly pro MonoDevelop but I think you should have paid attention in school. This article is exactly what you alluded it wouldn’t be: boring.

  24. Caleb Cushing ( xenoterracide ) says:

    and this is why there is and will never be a perfect distro. I wouldn’t be happy with this at all… I like my rolling distro’s gentoo, arch, debian sid. and yet they are all flawed in ways, gentoo by not having binary support, arch/debian by lacking masks.

  25. Pop says:

    For the Development Enviroment I will suggest Eclipse is freaking Awesome and it is made with SWT/GTK so it gets the look and feel of Gnome. Eclipse is much better than Visual Studio and supports lots of languages even Haskell, Erlang, Ruby, Python, PHP, Java so on. MonoDevelop feels as small and beta software compared with Eclipse and Eclipse is Open Source too.

  26. Harlem says:

    great list and wonderful mix of apps that just work, my hats off to you, bravo:)

  27. fred says:

    You have similar mind with me, kick whatever not really integrated in the desktop, but just the difference is I kick everything with GTK+. The last GTK+ program I used was Firefox, and thanks to the Qt Webkit, I can ditch that slow-memory-hungry application.

  28. Blake says:

    Great choice of applications. I would also consider mentioning VLC for quick-and-awesome video and audio playback. Out of the box, it supports just about every codec under the sun (thanks for libavcodec).

    I would also give a nod to Audacity for audio editing.

  29. DamentZ says:

    RE: strict package updating policy

    The repository should be a hybrid frozen/rolling repository. Userspace applications such as Openoffice, Pidgin, Firefox, Deluge, GNOME/KDE – all of these and more should be updated within the same week of a new point release.

    Entirely new revisions should be considered too as long as they don’t request new API access from the infrastructure such as X, hal, and dbus.

  30. KenP says:

    KDE has a better app in every category — except perhaps Firefox and In fact, if you consider Arora browser or the already-in-alpha-and-looking-good chromium, there is absolutely no need to go with any GTK/GTK+ app out there.
    So, your perfect distro is just that – yours.
    I use KDE4 exclusively and Qt/KDE apps and have felt no need to try or switch to any of your “awesome” apps.
    I describe your post as a thinly-veiled GNOME/GTK/Ubuntu promotion. Nothing more.

  31. Babak says:

    Thanks – will be handy as I go for a dual boot system.

    btw – on correction: “so it AIR” = so is AIR

  32. Jeff says:


    Holy crap, how could I forget about that? My biggest gripe with Ubuntu – what with them claiming to be “for human beings” and being “very easy to use” – is the lack of centralized administrative tools. The first time I used Ubuntu, it practically had me RUNNING back to Mandriva and openSUSE.

    We shouldn’t have to deal with SWAT/smb.conf for samba, something else for package management, something else for NFS shares, something else for user/group management, something else for runtime services, something else for etc. We should have something like MCC or YaST – one stop shop for administrative tasks.

    Last I knew, YaST was open source, and it has a great front-ends for GTK+, Qt4, AND the command line (for when things are broken). Bryan, add that to the list. Hell, Mark Shuttleworth, add that to your list!

  33. Nathan says:

    I agree with a lot of stuff I see in here. I agree that we should start finding promising apps for their individual tasks and work on making them excellent rather than making tons of mediocre apps that all do the same things. I agree that commercial software for Linux would be a good thing (though I doubt I would end up buying it; I’m doing OK now without it).

    I vehemently disagree with using GNOME over KDE, since KDE has a lot of intuitive stuff and K* apps all tend to share a unified feel. Not to mention the background stuff like kioslaves that you never think about, but they make life SO much easier. Both GNOME and KDE are great and elaborate systems, that do a good job. I don’t think we should throw one away because they do so much of the same thing. I don’t think that’s what you’re suggesting, but I’m not sure.

    Choice isn’t a bad thing! I think giving people options is excellent. Let them choose between GNOME and KDE. Have one as the default, yes, but make it easy to switch. I agree that we need to pick promising apps and make them work well, even at the expense of other similar apps. But once we have a working app to do XYZ, then if someone thinks they can do a better job, let them. Options aren’t the enemy until they are spreading our resources and causing us to fail our goal, which is to make stable, secure, fast, high-quality software. In the case of GNOME and KDE, both meet these qualifications, so let them both live and thrive.

  34. Ian says:

    The Ultimate Linux distro is ultimately in the eyes of the beholder. That is what makes being a Linux user so damn great! From the posts so far you can see that is the truth. Personally I use Linux like most Windows users do out there. I listen to audio, watch videos, surf the net, write emails.blah blah blah. I just want my pc to do what I want it to. Ubuntu has made me a happy camper so far. If perfection is a goal you really want to reach, make a package manager that can install whatever the user throws at it, and leave the rest to the user.

  35. Spencer says:

    Great ideas for making the linux desktop more user friendly, I might remaster the ubuntu install cd to include these aplications. I don’t thing I’ll be able to have gpl compliance but I don’t thing anyone will mind since the open source packages will be from ubuntu’s repos. I’ll see If I can make that cd then if I make it I will post back with a link to the iso. I am not going to make it its own distro though since that would be too hard, so I’m not going to tweak the update manager.

  36. Gman says:

    So….. whos going to make this bad boy…..


  37. oscar alho says:

    yeah, this is the perfect list of what not to use. gnome? lol, in what century are you? gnome was good in the 1.x era. now its utter crap. all great programs are now qt based, konqueror, k3b, amarok, etc

    miro is no way a good videoplayer. mplayer/smplayer is way better

    and for mail? evolution? lol evolution must be the program with the most ironic name, since is going the other way around. sylpheed-claws is ages better. and so is kmail/kontact.

  38. Andries says:

    This article is biased towards the Gnome desktop. So why not add the nice KDE based applications to the mix as well: K3B for burning CDs and DVDs. Kopete is great instant messenger client. And why Mono?, what about Eclipse. Or is Java just not “cool” enough? The simple fact is, what is perfect for one person is lacking for another. The very act of claiming perfection smacks of a monumental arrogance. I would even like to suggest that a perfect desktop really depends on what a user wants to accomplish. For certain people (for example gamers) windows is still a better choice. Many gamers drool over the nice eye candy on the Linux desktop, but they play games, and Linux is not (yet) a gaming platform.

  39. KimTjik says:

    I don’t agree with the author’s main idea of a democratic scale down of Linux distributions. Slackware is a great example of how some users prefer a certain way of computing and it doesn’t change because distro so and so introduce feature after feature based on another way of doing things.

    That said I don’t see the problem here. OK, you have your idea about how your ideal distro would look like, e.g. a mix of closed- and open-source code. Why not just do it? We already have plenty of options based on Ubuntu (Debian) so what hinders you from accomplish this project?

    If you want to get Adobe on board I suppose you might be able to if in the installation process prompt a user choice, choose unbranded open-source software or activate Adobe sponsored repository. If Adobe agree I don’t know and what they would like to get in exchange. Your ideas is however nothing but an idea until you’ve solved patent issues involved. After that total transparency is vital so that volunteers and possible future users can examine the conditions and agreements made to make it possible to ship a ready mix of open- and closed-source software.

    To image stuff is fun and it might look like the majority are in agreement with you, or if not at least a great part of the Linux users. This could very well change rapidly depending on conditions set in such an agreement with Adobe or any other mainly closed-source software developer. That’s when it becomes interesting to see what we’re dealing.

    Until you get ready to actually do it this isn’t anything but one of zillions mind exercises. More important though, in my opinion, is to support and get some of the mentioned projects to get a boost in the right direction.

    PS. I won’t support such a distro, but I won’t fight it either unless it violates our current limited freedom. It’s not even close anyway to what I view as ideal. DS.

  40. daniel says:

    Some of your arguments seem a bit arbitrary and lack explanation. Why is Empathy preferred over Pidgin, why should a bloated, feature-creep like Miro replace a lightweight video player like Totem?

    Apart from that I agree on most of the stuff, although I doubt you’re telling anything new here.

  41. Tobberz says:

    Make it. Now! :)

  42. oiaohm says:
    Sorry legally stuffed. Too much .net stuff. Ubuntu technically don’t not have patent coverage for the mono stuff. Only person who legally can ship the mono runtime is Novell. So no full function livecd for you and no full installation without internet connection. That suxs.

    banshee, MonoDevelop and gnome do are out since you don’t have the licenses to make a demo or install them from a install disk without requiring to pay money.

    I really don’t see dropping them as a major problem. Bit of clean up work on the others and you will use less memory.

    Koffice + Openoffice provide a great combined feature set choosing Openoffice over Koffice will leave you lacking project management and other great features. Koffice over Openoffice leaves you lacking MS document support for some formats. Basically Koffice offers a full Office suit Openoffice does not. So I would be choosing Koffice + a ms document support project.

    Ok failure of strict updating rules exists in debian where clamav gets out of date and does not get updated so cannot scan for latest viruses.

    There is a better solution. Its called multi package support. So you can have X11 new and X11 old. User chooses what one works the best of you. By the way some intel cards that did not work at all well with the old X11 server work perfectly with the new. The single version package system distributions have hurt users.

    Personally I would like to do way with the distribution version model completely. Have a system that just rolling updates and will hold versions you mark as compatible and be smart with items like X11 server of providing a option to simple roll back if it don’t work. So you can have the latest applications were you need the features and old stable versions where you need that too.

  43. stelt says:

    Maybe we should indeed in some cases add software that is not open source, but using propriety formats where open standards could be used is just plain stupid (the network effect will continue to annoy you for it).

    Flash/AIR, what about HTML5/SVG/Canvas/openVideo?
    Check out Google IO (running atm) and SVG Open (also at Google this year) and see what i mean.

  44. John says:

    Great list, I already use almost everything you’ve listed.

    My only suggestion is to replace Moovida with Boxee. Boxee has awesome web support like using Hulu and YouTube.

  45. David says:

    I have to agree with Daniel, I use Pidgin, and while you state that Pidgin is out Empathy is in, you give no explanation as to why this is so. Also, when I am at the office, Pidgin has proxy settings which allow me to use it behind the firewall, Empathy does not.

  46. SmSpillaz says:


    The reason why you see tearing with NVIDIA is probably because you’ve got vsync disabled. Disabling vsync is a performance hack that is note needed unless you have an excruciatingly slow graphics card.

    CCSM->General Options->Display->Sync To VBlank. Done.

    I also wouldn’t mind if Canonical sent some dev’s the way of Compiz. Unfortunately, our only paid developer (davidr) left us a few months ago and things have been quite slow since.

    You’re pretty much right, althought it would be nice to see a ‘KDE’ distro or a ‘GNOME’ distro. Both DE’s are amazing in their own way.

    Which brings me to the point, I really hate how these DE’s have to be totally separated, it would be really nice for LSB or fd.o to step in here and establish a shared library that allows for seamless operation between the DE’s.

    Also, XBMC >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Moovido. Sorry, especially with the current VDR patch and Aeon it’s like MCE * 5000 for free [1][2]. Although, the things I like about Moovido are the transparent interface that doesn’t hide your media when you want to select or browse other media and also the support for online media. I hope XBMC can start adding some online media support soon-ish.

    Also, docks suck. Sorry – but unless I see a dock that can morph from a dock to a taskbar, I’m sticking with a panel. That gives me an idea for CompizShell actuall *writes it down*


  47. drewlander says:

    Docs suck, get over it
    Amarok is simple, get over it
    kde is awesome, get over it
    see how easy it is to argue by putting get over it at the end instead of a nice detailed description?
    otherwise not a bad article

  48. /V says:

    Great guide! If I may add something:
    1)Since you want to use Ubuntu, I strongly advice to install ubuntu tweak that automates and simplyfies the most annoying tasks, namely the isntallation of LOTS of software from 3rd party repos (included Miro, Skype, Gnome DO and all the codecs).

    2)For what concerns the themes, you shouldn’t just say “here’s a great place, just do what you want”. gnome-look has some great themes but also lots of crap, and a distro with curly fonts and blingy widgets is just gonna get you laughed at by your mac buddies.

    Since you’ve been talking about Mint, I strongly advice to install the theme used by Mint Linux (I’d like to start directly from taht distro, but the new start menu gives me the creeps and reminds too much of open-crashlikevista-suse)

    Here ( you’ll find the set of icons used, at the end of the page there is the Ubuntu repository to install all the icons + color themes + we themes + background pics from synaptic. BTW, they are in 4-5 different color flavours.

    3) Once you have Ubuntu tweak, you might wanna try BlueMan to handle all your bluetooth devices. It makes the default bluetooth manager look like crap and Windows and Mac’s BT stack seem ridiculous. And it’s completely integrated with Nautilus.

    4) Miro never really impressed me but I trust you on that (and maybe I’ll give it another try). It’s true that Gstreamer is great but sometimes ti gave me problems with certain avis, I’d always keep totem-xine with me (and VLC for all that’s video conversion)

    5) F-spot, like Miro, never really got into me. Since we’re not blabbing about openness you might wanna try Picasa for linux. Works pretty well for me, but maybe I’m just too used to it.

    6) Little question: how do you compare PiTiVi and Cinelerra? I ask cuz I always heard about the latter and I’d like to know if it isn’t worth mentioning.

    7) This won’t probably give points to linux only, but everyone should just install Dropbox and go with it.

    8) Let’s not forget to add some good stuff to Firefox too! 4 Extension everyone should ALWAYS have are Ubiquity, All-in-one sidebar, TreeLike Tabs (if you have a 16:9 screen) and the Jaunty notification extensionm, to begin.


  49. Bob Kovacs says:

    Thanks Bryan, I never heard of Miro, Pitivi, and Moovida. I’ll check them out. Good write up!. We definitely need better and more consumer/prosumer photo editing and video editing apps for Linux. Gimp and Krita are good, but their not Photoshop or Corel Painter. But more than just Photoshop, we need the whole Creative Suite. After Effects, Lightroom 2!.

  50. Aaron says:

    alot of these decision especially at the beginning remind me of linux mint. I have to say I love running linux mint and will probably run it for a long time. I do love all of these suggestions and I also believe in having my operating system open and then my applications can be whatever(for the most part). I can’t wait until something like this gets closer to being a reality.

  51. J Burcsu says:

    Linux will never challenge MacOSX or even Windows with the computer-naive general public until it is unnecessary to run terminal for anything they might ever want or need to do. GUI-only has to be the goal.

  52. tonyrocks says:

    I love how we try to make Linux the best it can be…by making it emulate the look/feel of Mac OS. hehe

  53. nebim says:

    i would suggest GyachE Improved 1.1.0 for yahoo messenger users

  54. ProjectMorris says:

    Hmmm..You know, Linux is a lot like sex…We can all get what we want from a single button (think application), but in the long run that will be a bit boring so we have a few buttons and now its a bit more fun. What Linux presents is a myriad of buttons and some can do more than one thing…Not only is this confusing even for those in the know, but intimidating to the lay user, excuse the pun. So whilst I’m no super user I agree with Bryan’s proposal. Concentrate on making it killer and you will bring people in in droves…add more buttons and we can all stand and wave the desktop goodbye.

  55. onan says:

    What a waste of time, pretending to look for the perfect and ultimate linux distro turns out to be a collection of “I know this sucks, get over it”, “I know it’s not ready yet, get over it”, “I knoy this and that, get over it”.

    In the end it seems it’s just wishful thinking that everyone else would like what you like.

    Most of your choices are arguable at best, no one using an audio player would accept to cope with a music manager instead, foobar2000 has no alternative in the linux world, get over it.

    Most of your default choices are arguable at best, I’m using opera because it’s cross-platform, why the hell would I want to go backwards to the time consuming and resource hog firefox?

  56. MachineDog says:

    Moovida is nice, but Boxee is pretty nice too. Thunderbird for email for sure.

  57. Ismenor says:

    I would almost admire your devotion if you were younger, Mr Lunduke. Being naive at 16 is touching. Remaining naive past 20 is just… not right.

    Your “perfect Linux Distribution” would become “Yet Another Linux Distribution” in the best case. Beside, while certainly an improvement, it would still remain on very shaky foundations, for instance the Linux Kernel internal API, the cause for the sorry state of Linux drivers.

    I also notice that you didn’t mention the fact that your app store (containing Free and non free Apps), must allow for newly released apps (without having to upgrade the whole system!). With a desktop OS, you have to remain conservative with the system libraries you are using, but extremely progessive with the apps, unlike current Linux Distributions which do not exactly allow you to easily install apps which are not in their repositories.

  58. Aric A. says:

    Mostly good choices here, but I’m not sure that installing common applications into Ubuntu qualifies it a new distro.

    I do agree that adaptability should be key, justifying the inclusion of non-free software like Flash and AIR, but I’d take it a step further–include the most commonly needed hardware drivers by default. Specifically Envy, fglrx, and the Broadcom drivers for WiFi.

    And since we’re talking about making it easy to switch over, what about smartphone users? Give me an out-of-the-box solution to sync my iPhone without iTunes and you’ll have my axe.

  59. domo says:

    Good post man! Keep it up.

  60. Kit Barnes says:

    I like the list, many of these commentors appear to have missed the point of the article entirely; It’s not about a Gnu/Linux distro for techies, it’s about a distro for J. R. Human, and as it stands:
    1. KDE is scary to everyone coming from other landscapes
    2. All of these mono apps are awesome and integrate well with the Gnome desktop (a DE chosen for friendliness to aforementioned J. R.)
    3. The majority of Linux _desktops_ ARE Ubuntu based, if not in total certainly among those who value ease (also newbies such as myself)
    4. Proprietary software is here to stay in certain sectors, like it or not (hopefully not permanently in most, but certainly for a fair while)
    5. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like docks. Of all my windows-using friends, they’ve all got objectdock (or some alternative) installed. These are people running Vista and liking it and these are the people we need to target. If we can get those hard-set enough to actually like Vista, we’ve got enough.

    In short, stop saying things like “My ideal distro would be […]”, it’s not about you.

    Now for my input:
    We need touch/multitouch/tablet support greatly improved. That’s where all the hardware vendors are heading, that’s where all the software vendors are heading. These apps are a great list but we need things like touch(/mouse) control in gnome-do and handwriting support in tomboy.
    Actually handwriting support is just something for me, but an intuitive, friendly touch UI is pretty important going forward in the next few years at least.

  61. Jeff says:

    KDE is scary? Way back in ’04, when I switched to Linux, I used Mandrake 10.1 with KDE 3.4 (or was it 3.3 in that release?). The only “scary” thing I encountered was how Flash 7 was a complete piece of crap and had atrocious syncing issues.

    That is to say “I did not find KDE confusing. Its default layout in Mandrake was fine for a Windows convert. Changing things slightly to better suit my preferences was also not much of a chore.”

    That is also to say “This particular Windows convert, even at the time of his conversion, found Gnome to be completely alien. It’s look and behavior were different than what he had seen before.”

  62. Matthew C. Tedder says:

    Even better–focus a Desktop GNU/Linux distribution on being a desktop software platform! A software platform will provide the underlying libraries and services required to securely, efficiently, and easily install and run software applications (in this case, a desktop software platform so it should be facilitated for GUI and audio applications). Management facilities for these services also belong so the software platform is a complete solution (as far as being a software application is concerned).

    Although you may bundle some software applications, they are not and should not be part of the software platform. Each should be its own distribution with its own focus. It should install on any software platform with basic (and easy to identify) requirements (i.e. processor architecture, memory, extra disk space, and kernel version). This is technically feasible–one way is to use autopackage (distribution neutral package format) and a way of finding out or knowing what make options each pre-requisite library was compiled with. A software program is not the same as a software application. The application should be a complete solution (extremely rare in the open source world today). A complete solution should provide ALL REQUIRED tools, tutorials, reference documentation, a support channel, and guided integration with its install environment.

    The gist of this is that when somebody gets the software, it should be straight forward and ready to use for what he/she got it for. It shouldn’t task them out to do various work on sparse and partially updated howtos. If you can write a howto, you should be able to write a wizard.

    I cannot count how many times I installed an exciting sounding application and then didn’t have a clue how to start it and/or how to use it. They usually just open up and present a perplexing (hopefully) maybe partially intuitive array of menus and widgets. What that is, is an unfinished software product. And each distribution is focused on the number of applications for each particular version.

    A common software platform (even existing between numerous and diverse distributions) is possible and extremely beneficial. It’s an engineering problem–not an impossibility as many narrow minded developers think.

    Envision the day when you can grab any piece of Linux software and run it on any GNU/Linux desktop distribution. Suddenly, distribution maintainers can focus on hardware compatibility and management of services, security, and such, instead of getting every piece of software you can imagine just working on the latest release.

    Consequently, users can just download an application of interest, install and start using and/or learning it. No more hoping this program or version is supported in your version of your distribution and going on wild goose-chases across mountains of google-searched partially outdated documentation and partially reliable message board comments. No more advanced degrees in make tools and library dependency finding, etc.

    Isn’t it just hidious that Ubuntu still has no version of 3.0 available? And the versions you can get look and feel like crap?

    This isn’t about technology–it’s about stubborn minds stuck on failed concept of individual package hierarchies for each distribution. Sure, for the packages supported on each version of each distribution, they technically install and run better than many Windows applications–but why is that the standard we have to beat? Our own standard is still rediculously low. It’s about stubborn minds that won’t change from the framework they are used to and will not consider the possibility that it is flawed even as I just clearly pointed it out to you. They will find reasons and rebuttals.. but they won’t change the basic problems nor the fact that these problems are technically solvable.

  63. ... says:

    cool article; thanks for the read.

    btw, it’s Qt (as in, cute), not QT. the latter is Apple’s QuickTime.

  64. jamiefehr says:

    @ Jason Stapels

    For example, Skype does work decent in gnome but the linux client is still way behind the Windows client in terms of usability. What happens if they never make it any better? Flash has the same problem in terms of performance, as it still runs quicker under a virtualized windows environment than is does natively on Linux. You (the distro) can’t make it any better, you’re stuck with it.

    Um, Mac and windows can’t change whether or not closed source applications suck or not on their system, and they don’t seem to lose a lot of sleep over it.

    Really, the article and subsequent comments just reinforce why linux will *NEVER* become the desktop of choice for the computing majority. I’m pretty sure that iPhone OS has a larger user base.

  65. Jason Stapels says:


    I’m not sure what you’re getting at? Neither Mac nor Windows ship with Skype, they both have their own chat clients. As for Flash, you have me there, but Apple and Adobe are pretty darn close and Microsoft does have it’s own version of a web-graphics platform.

    I was just trying to point out that it’s risky to rely on software that you can’t control for the base of your distro.

  66. Jim says:

    So you are basically making the front end MacOS ?

    Sorry mate but I’m not sold.

    Cheers – Jim

  67. Jeff Hoogland says:

    I love the ideas behind this! Any chance you have a live/install dvd lurking around somewhere for download? Cause that would be nice to have.


  68. Michael Hunt says:

    Although I like the overall direction of this article, there is something that you seem to miss. You say “let’s make a distro”, and then you immediately base it off of the most prevalent distro out there. This is not why people make distros. The fact that distro has become synonymous with a customized or enhanced version of a different distro is lost on me. Distros should be made because the developer(s) have some new ideas. If I want KDE or skype or cnr, I can install those myself. Just because Ubuntu doesn’t ship with them pre-installed doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    Here comes a shameless plug. There are certain other distros (in my sense of the word) that do not take the Ubuntu stance of “let’s make grandma think it’s Windows right out of the box”. Distros like Gentoo or Arch (yes, I’m one of _those_ nuts) tend to take the approach that the only thing all users have in common is the base system. Beyond that they really can’t predict your needs, so they let you do it yourself. I know, many people in the Ubuntu community have an affinity for “easy installs”, but the fact is that when you resort to creating your OWN CUSTOM DISTRO to avoid learning how to customize a base system, something is terribly wrong.

    Honestly this reminds me of (back in my naive windows years) slip-streaming custom XP install disks to avoid the hassle of installing all those apps and registry hacks. Here’s something to ponder though: you shouldn’t be needing to reinstall Linux every n days / months. Linux doesn’t slow to a crawl or become confoundedly unstable under a heavy load of applications. So customize to your heart’s content — it really honestly should only need to be done the one time.

    Pardon the rant, but I just can’t resist commenting on a few of your categories. In the games section you claim: “Most distros ship with about a dozen games. Most of which… nobody ever plays.” and then two sentences later you just throw three games in to (1) show everyone linux is capable (if they’re doubting this, then why are you the distro creator obligated to correct their thinking), (2) because it’s fun (good enough reason for me, but what about everyone else? will they ALL play it or are you violating your remark about games that nobody plays?) and (3) for something more casual (because apt-get install frozen-bubble is really hard for the <100% who will use this).

    In your chat section: “Skype works. Everyone uses it. And so do we.” — I didn’t get that memo. I’ll have to go and install it now. Thanks.

    Regarding your “Strict Package Updating Rules” section. I actually laughed out loud when I read this (seriously not trying to be a dick here, but I know I’m doing a bad job). Distros can either be stable or current. Gentoo may have the option of selectively holding back packages, but it has always been at the discretion of the user. When a package maintainer does this, they either (a) screw a small group out of a stable package, or (b) screw a large group out of new functionality. Ubuntu’s devs usually choose A because they can’t pretend to have a one-size-fits-all distro. Here’s a better idea — improve on apt. Make it easier for users to selectively upgrade or downgrade to specific versions. Make it easy to block certain versions. Sound like gentoo yet? I know I’m salivating. If you think that no one has had this complaint, you’d be dead wrong. It’s a hard problem to solve, and by always holding back you will eventually become Slackware.

    Your development section “Development Environment” begs the question: just who are you making this distro for? Odds are if they’re a linux developer they won’t be drawn in by the eye candy or the promise of a Visual-Studio-like IDE. Give me emacs or give me death. Oh and speaking of developer, mono is not bad “cuz of teh Microsoft”, it’s bad because it’s still in its infancy; it doesn’t support a lot of libraries that the Microsoft equivalent does (notably the gui stuff — and yes I’m aware of the gtk/qt/whatever bindings, it’s not the same). But hey, this is about distro building, not language wars [cough python cough].

    The fact that you would wish Adobe flash upon me is upsetting. A distro creator so determined to cause his users pain has a twisted sense of humor indeed. I don’t use flash because it crashes my browser.

    Your sections about the various media players are… dogmatic, but baseless. I will choose the media player best suited for MY needs.

    Finally your “Audio Editor” and “Video Editor” sections. You claim “we can either settle for mediocrity or we can take the lead.” Wow. I had no idea that the cutting edge of awesomeness lay solely on multimedia editors. I must be falling behind, because I can count the number of times I’ve needed this functionality on an amputee’s hand. Honestly, is this what’s going to really push the distro past that last threshold of awesomness? For me this would be a waste of disk space.

    I understand that you wrote this just because you want to share what you would consider to be improvements. This is important in the Linux community. It seems to me however that your beef is not with Linux, but with Ubuntu. Rather than creating a brand new distro, you should really consider submitting some of these to the Ubuntu devs. Their bug tracker allows feature requests. As for the other stuff, it’s clear that you don’t like a few app installations after a stock install. I can tell you that most distros are only interested in satisfying general needs, and not which music player would remind you of iTunes. So I issue you this challenge: put up or shut up.
    Give us “zOMGBeStLiNuXeVeR” (or at least contribute something for *#&#’s sake) or realize that we can’t all have the experience we really want out of the box.

  69. arbulus says:

    I really cannot comprehend all you people who keep saying “this is just an idea for a Mac OS clone.” Why? Because he suggested a dock? A dock isn’t the only thing that makes OS X. Everything else is just basic functionality for a modern desktop operating system.

  70. Alex Shenoy says:

    Oh, I completely forgot. I can’t stand by the decision to include Flash by default until somebody lights a fire under Adobe’s ass to fix the horrible crashes where it takes out my sound system and I have to kill firefox to get it back. I have been thinking for a while now that I would like Microsoft to fully support Silverlight on Linux just to see if they can do a better job of supporting us than Adobe.

  71. Bonster says:

    good stuff, been using most of those apps already.

    Mono… get over urself ppl, Gnome-Do is tyte
    Complain about thinks that dont work, not things that do.

  72. Michael Brandt says:

    Linux Mint 7 just came out a couple of days ago, and I’m favorably impressed. They’re definitely working in the direction you suggest.
    One thing that I noted is that you included an app store. LM already has something similar, though at this point it’s more of an alternative to the package manager than a store. The big advantage I see is that it’s easier to make a decision among all the various programs available in linux if you have screenshots and reviews right at your fingertips.
    Linux Mint has problems like any distro, but in terms of what you’re suggesting, it’s probably the closest you’ll find. My personal installation is very close, and it’s only a matter of adding a dock, and switching some programs around as a matter of taste. If you haven’t tried Mint yet, I highly recommend it.

  73. Joshua says:

    Bold post, Bryan! Of course, you make lots of those so it’s no surprise. I believe I see your point: take what we have TODAY, and make the most of it. Put it all in one place to create an awesome desktop experience. Here are my comments…

    When I tried them, I didn’t find Miro useful, Gnome-Do was painfully slow, and Jokosher crashed a lot. I’d give all of them another try, though. I wouldn’t pick all of the same programs, but yours all seem like viable options. I’m totally with you on bundling Pitivi. I don’t care whether we use Pidgin or Empathy.

    I’d be reluctant to put Yo Frankie! in. It’s large and didn’t seem very fun when I tried it. As for ClickNRun, it doesn’t seem to be in very good shape. It’s seems kind of ugly, unorganized and out of date. It does seem to have some potential though.

    Let’s talk about Skype. I agree that it works. I use it too. It’s a pain, though! It’s hard to install because it’s not a native 64-bit application. Then I have to quit all other applications that use audio before launching it, or else sound doesn’t work properly and I can’t make or receive calls. I think you’re suggesting that it should be bundled with a distribution because it’s the best tool for the job right now. It has major issues, though. Who’s going to fix them? All we can do is wait for Skype Ltd. to do it. Plus, PLUS, by bundling a proprietary application with the install CD, you complicate redistribution rights. Maybe you could display some featured app-store applications after installation. “Here are some applications not included with the base install that we recommend!” Make one of them Skype and be sure that it installs and works nicely.

  74. julien says:

    Nice choices, and ideas

    I still like pidgin, and as and IDE I’d choose gVim or eclipse, (give me an IntelliJ Idea license and I’d use it too)… For multimedia stuff, vlc just kicks ass, (like on anyother OS)and at least you don’t need 5 different apps to manage audio/video stuff. wbar is very cool for a dock replacement and unlike gnome-do you don’t need to enable window composing (some like it minimal) …

    For the sound problem in flash, I’m not sure, but apparently flash & pulseaudio don’t play well together, check to learn more, (I’ think this will take loads of time to be Linux friendly even thought last year Adobe made a big effort for Flash Player on Linux (remember version 7))


  75. LinuxLover says:

    J Burscu: They need to try Mandriva, OpenSuse, or PCLinuxOS then. No command line necessary.

  76. Jadd says:

    The pay money to microsoft stuff only applies to Moonlight, not mono.

  77. Archie says:

    personally, i think this looks a lot like ubuntu, just with a dock and a few programs installed.

  78. Bob Kovacs says:

    Bryan I just tried Miro. Was very disappointed!. Apparently there are features such as flash video that work in the Windows and Mac OSX versions, but don’t work with Ubuntu. Until the Linux version is equal in every respect to the Windows and MacOSX version. I personally cannot recommend it!. I tried to download several youtube music videos, and get a “Error file not found”. That is BS, because I can download the video from youtube, with Firefox Downloader plugin. Not good !. Linux again gets short changed.

  79. Marc says:

    Because all we are doing here is making it look like MacOS and then trying to make it equivalent in functionality.

    OK. And? You want people to adopt some Linux distro by only matching an existing OS that people already have invested time and money in? Some software does not work as well on Linux. Some software is just have no Linux version.

    There is no compelling reason to change, so no one will.

  80. disappointed says:

    You are so ready to hand over control over your platform of choice to proprietary vendors. A new master is not freedom.

  81. Pedro says:

    you should take a look at the exlibris fonts

  82. Shane says:

    Interesting post… but as a maintainer of a rather small (sub)distro (Linux Mint Fluxbox CE), I have found one thing to be a hindrance to “the ultimate distro”… And that is the diverse nature of the community, even within a narrow user base.

    Whatever the case, someone will not be happy with the way things are. What you have described is *your* ultimate distro. I think Flash out of the box is a must in this day and age… while Evolution is just bloat. I think Kdenlive is as good as it gets and Banshee is just too ‘heavy’ for an audio player when MPD does the job just fine.

    I could go on and on but the important thing is that a distro provides a good starting point from where the user customizes. And the distro should provide an easy way to do that.

    The only truly ultimate distro is the one you build yourself. Which is why I am a maintainer ;)

  83. easybutton says:

    What about XFCE?

  84. arcdrag says:

    The reason there can be no perfect Linux Distro that uses a static set of applications is that Linux is all about building an OS to do exactly what you want or need it to do. People that want to look at the exact same set of apps that everyone else looks at already have that in Windows. Why would they need to bother learning a new OS?

  85. Paul M. Nguyen says:

    Hash: SHA1

    Nice article; brought out some of the beauty of the philosophy of Linux and the Open Source community.

    I personally prefer Slackware, but just this weekend brought myself to a more open experience by installing and configuring a parallel boot option with OpenSUSE and added Ubuntu 9.04 in VirtualBox on my Mac. I enjoy following all the developments in Operating Systems and pull the best from each.

    To answer those of you posting about IDE, vim is valid as an extremely lightweight, regular-expressions supporting, multiple-file editor with syntax highlighting, however, I prefer graphical tools from KDE 3 for development, as well as Eclipse where appropriate. The commandline is useful, though, and I find myself dropping to the Command Prompt in Windows (XP or Vista) and the Terminal in OS X to accomplish various day-to-day tasks, and I do feel the usefulness of the commandline.

    I also cringe at the inclusion of proprietary or commercial software ine of this operating system/distribution – we need to stick to things that we can change when needed. It is important to prove interoperability with the commercial giants of our day, however, which should be another selling point for Linux.

    Nicely done, but a few points to consider…

    Version: GnuPG v2.0.9 (GNU/Linux)


  86. A.Y. Siu says:

    Why don’t you make this “distro” yourself and see how many people find it useful?

    Install Ubuntu, customize it how you want. Copy the important config files to the /etc/skel directory and change ownership to root.

    Then install and run Remastersys, and you have an .iso you can show with other people.

  87. Mark says:

    OK, this sounds like an arguement on WHAT EACH person wants!
    This is EXACTLY why an os should be configurable, but no I am not talking about the package manager, or a configuration in a certain menu, or a “Spin” of a distro, I am talking about the LINUX COMMUNITY RIGHT NOW. We should (as a linux community) stay true to our values of an open source os, this is what keeps the os together.

    Let us take mandriva, I dont know if ypu have used it before, but it has an intigrated settings manager, with all the controlls needed, and also (mockingly) featuring things that M$ can not do. it is fantastic, WHY because this complex app was built with the collaboration of unemployed employed developers, and users for reporting bugs. And all the work is done by mandriva for mandriva OS, now look at windows, a controll center (control panel) where the only controlls are for windows applications, and ones developed by microsoft.

    With open source, allmoest EVERY component, even though developed by different people, can be used, and optimised for the ideal of the os, a closed source os would undoubtably be buggy, because we are working around the closed source, leagly bound software model.

    I like some ideas you picked (the author, that is) They fit what I like, in fact I feel like using these options, and found some new softwares (media center, do-dock) and the way you structured the idea of using the best, and not the default (default for gnome…) apps. BUT you have the wrong idea this is not the “Ultimate OS” this is Bryans ultimate OS, Feel proud that this os represents the majority of the “non-technical” users, BUT you will not match the opinions of all, This is the beauty of linux, your perfect os will connect you to a community of users that love it, and you can enjoy using the os with similerly interested users.

    Linux is FREE as in Freedom, Freedom comes with responsibility, as a linux user, you need to know what you are using, linux, not windows, i repeat LINUX IS NOT WINDOWS, if you want your os to look, feel , act, smell, like windows, work with all devices supported by windows, be compatible with all your windows programs. Why are you using linux!! it is not ligical, use windows!!! all to much I see the “Perfect os” as linux “cuz itz ausom” and intigrate all the same apps that a windows uses(skype, adobe) “Cuz it is what they are used 2″ the distro has the wrong idea, it is the users responsibility to use the freedom of linux to create a solution that will fit there needs.

  88. Mathias says:

    Got it installed in a VMware instance now, except for the CNR which doesn’t seem to work with 9.04 ubuntu. Future will show it’s viability! Thanks for a great article, I’ve dabbled with Ubuntu before, as well as with everything from Suse to FreeBSD, maybe this time linux will stick with me. It will be depending on how much extra crap I have to do to get any real work done!

  89. Shannon says:

    You lost me almost right off the bat. I can’t remember if it was Gnome or Ubuntu that I saw first… but I was laughing at that point. Either one is good enough.

    I read the rest of this article, for some reason, and was amused by your logic skills and the Microsoftian attitude of “This is how I like it, deal.” The arrogance was thick.

    On top of that, you appear to not yet know the difference between a distro and a “customized install”.

    Jumping on the Ubuntu bandwagon isn’t a smart move. most popular doesn’t mean best choice, which is why, I suspect, most of us don’t use Windows more. Debian, I can see. Ubuntu? Forget it.

    I think your “perfect distro” is laughable. You might think mine is equally so. But it’s all good… as long as you remember the difference between fact and opinion.

    Here’s my idea of the perfect distro:

    PCLinuxOS 2009.

  90. Vadim says:


  91. Read Me: says:

    Applications are secondary to usability. And you can’t fix usability just by cargo cult distro’ing. Sticking a dock on it and some glossy themes just means it’s a polished turd.

    Until Linux and FOSS developers take usability seriously it’s going to suck. It’s that simple and cannot be fixed with a theme pack.

  92. Nathaniel Sabanski says:

    I personally think that Bryan is right on the money with all of this for a consumer desktop. The font issue especially has been bugging me for years (I do website development for a living).

    As for an msn alternative, Empathy looks cool i’ll have to check it out. Emesene is very nice, but I think we’re going to have to wait until version 2 is out before considering it a serious alternative as there are stability problems.

  93. themacmeister says:

    I must say I am upset with gnome-do dock, as it does not save my added programs, and crashes often. A pity, as it looks really nice.

  94. Eat2Live says:

    The only change I would make is in the games. I would not include the three games you stated, and would instead include the classic games Pacman, Tetris, Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Frogger. The reason being is that many (if not all) of the people who install your distro will be familiar with those games, and won’t be so familiar with Yo Frankie!, Hedgewars, and/or Frozen Bubble. This way the user could dive into these games head first without having to read a tutorial. Plus these games will never go out of existence, and the user will keep using them.

  95. Eat2Live says:

    Also, I know the dock is an easy way for users to find and launch their programs, but you just have to admit that docks suck, and will suck to the majority of people looking at your distro, and may turn them away.

  96. Lazza says:

    I’ve been working on a Linux distro for my LUG here in Italy and I’ve used some of your ideas before knowing of this blog. :-) It uses only free software btw, but if you want to give it a try (if you are just curious) you can download it here:
    It’s only in italian for now, but you can see my choices about software.

  97. Felonius says:


    The short-sightedness of the typical Linux power user is mind-boggling.

    Look, I’m a reasonably tech-savvy human being. I do a little Web coding, I build my own computer systems, I have no problems navigating command line for the most part (in linux or windows). I’m not a hardcore C++ or Java programmer, I don’t spend my entire life rebuilding Gentoo kernals from scratch, but I’m a competent, reasonably astute computer user. I’m a gamer, a computer geek, and I’m unabashed to admit either in public.

    I like Linux. I’m still learning the ropes with it, and the sense of freedom to configure my Linux system the way I choose is invigorating, but I like it, and will continue to use.

    But guess what–Linux is still to geeky. It’s so geeky, that most of the geeks take for granted how much geekiness is actually required to even begin to use it in the first place.

    I am completely in favor of Jeff’s attempt to create a distro that “just works.” All of the Linux power users that keep screaming “ZOMG you’re using something I’d never use in a million years” need to keep some bloody perspective here.

    YOU ARE NOT THE AVERAGE COMPUTER USER. And most people on planet earth will never reach your level of competence.

    And so the question remains–What is the real goal here? Is it to give people freedom to go away from Microsoft and Mac? Or is it to stroke your egos as “Uber-Linux Users” and look down on the masses who would never touch VIM with a 1,000 foot pole, have no freaking clue what an IDE is for programming, and don’t really give a flying rat’s turd whether they use KDE or Gnome as long as the damn thing works?

    If you want Linux to remain irretrievably niche, then fine–keep spouting off that you’d never do things the way Jeff has suggested here. But you’re not helping the goal of improving Linux use, and if that attitude stays in the community, it’s never going to be anything more than niche, because no one will have the vision to be making the right choices to take Linux where it needs to go.

    And sadly, the second anyone calls out this attitude as being negative, and a detriment to progress, Linux power users pour down in droves to pound the person who said so into submission with “Go back to M$ WinSux, loser!”

    Jeff’s idea is forward thinking. If you want to crawl back in your hole and caress your Unix console commands to prove that your life has meaning, by all means. The rest of us are interested in working, usable solutions–with GUI interfaces that intuitively make our work and play happen seamlessly.

  98. Akshay says:

    Nice Stuff! this would definitely be a Bill-Kill distribution :)

    I tried empathy and moodiva off your list – ones I wasn’t aware of.

  99. jason says:

    @#25 Pop

    I usually try to refrain from being impolite to people, but you are seriously delusional if you think that Eclipse is better than Visual Studio.

  100. jason says:

    @ #97 Felonius,

    I agree with you completely; if the overzealous Linux community would focus on an OS that is stable and compelling to the average user, it could be doing a lot better than its current 1% of the desktop market share.

    (If you are trying to give something away free for 18 years and it can’t pass 1%, there’s a problem)

    If these people weren’t part of some loony “freedom” crusade, that would also help.

  101. jason says:

    I found this on another forum, and it’s a very good representation of the “freedom” mentality, insofar as it applies to software/Linux.

    The Linux elder and the convert.

    A play by .net jerkface.

    Elder: Switch to linux and you’ll never have to deal with windows problems again. You’ll never have to deal with windows malware. All the cool smart kids are using it. It’s really fast. I love it. You’ll love it. You’ll never have to buy windows again.
    Convert: It’s free and really fast? Well ok I’ll try it.
    Elder: Great welcome to the club.
    Convert: Thanks.

    2 weeks later

    Convert: Where can I buy Linux games?
    Elder: There are lots of free Linux games like Quake 3 and Tux Racer.
    Convert: Yea but not many new ones.
    Elder: That’s because game companies don’t want linux to be successful. Just buy a console.
    Convert: Like the xbox?
    Elder: ARGH! Haven’t I taught you anything? That would just mean more money for Microsoft.
    Convert: The point of linux is to keep money from going to Microsoft?
    Elder:In some ways yes. So buy a PS3 or a Wii.
    Convert begins to lose faith.

    1 month later

    Convert: Hey I noticed that my scanner doesn’t work with Linux.
    Elder: Just buy a new one.
    Convert: My cell phone doesn’t work with Linux either.
    Elder: Just buy a new one. Oh and make sure you buy one that is on that list of cell phones that I sent you.
    Convert: You mean that list of 3 cell phones? Great. Oh and itunes doesn’t work with Linux.
    Elder: ARGH. You sent money to Apple? Haven’t I taught you anything?
    Convert: I got an ipod as a Christmas gift from my mom.
    Elder: Well your mom is retarded then. Sell it on ebay and buy a different one.

    Convert loses even more faith.

    3 months later.

    Convert: I upgraded ubuntu and now I have no sound.
    Elder: Just buy a new sound card or wait a few months for another update to fix it.
    Convert: It’s a laptop.
    Elder: Well wait a few months then.
    Convert: I have to wait for an update to fix an update?
    Elder: (loses control) FUCK. Did you know that my uncle had some software that didn’t work in vista? So I guess windoze sometimes breaks software too.
    Convert:That was an OS change. I never had windows update take away my sound.
    Elder:Well Windoze is just as bad. I mean come one. Blue screen of death and everything. Yea. And Vista Sux. So there. Just wait a few months for the patch. Or buy a new laptop. Make sure you buy one that isn’t from an evil manufacturer.
    Convert: Umm..sure…thanks for the advice….Linux sure is neat and stuff (reaches for restore cd).

  102. Barnaby Jones says:

    Thunderbird is better than Evolution. Add Lightning if you like a reminder/calendaring/tasks feature.

  103. Frank says:

    F-Spot. lol. what a waste of time and resources. F-Spot is by far the most worthless excuse for photo management. Digikam kicks it’s ass up and down. Oh, but wait, we can’t have any cross combining of gtk/qt apps. That would totally slow down our new computers to a halt.

    KDE and Gnome are both great successes The biggest difference is that KDE integrates well by default while an ass load of work has to go into Gnome to get the same effect.

  104. tom says:

    hey songbird for the audio player! if it wasnt for songbird i dont think i would have entirely ditched windows.

  105. Rick says:

    How about an update that allows for easy dial-up internet access?
    Let’s face it, not everyone has a high speed connection, and some probably won’t for a good long time.

  106. Nick says:

    Honestly, what’s the point if we make Linux the next Windows or Mac?

    That said, this distro would be great for the newly migrated, especially if it included tutorials, screen shots, videos, and hints. And if you were *really* serious, who’s stopping you from building it?

  107. Eric says:

    Pidgin — works great, empathy still sucks. In Eastern Europe a vast majority of people use Yahoo! for IM-ing.

    Songbird — more than that sucky Banshee will ever be. And it has a WAY larger user base.

  108. marco cammarata says:

    I have tried monodevelop … but I didn’t like it very much

  109. Crypto1971 says:

    The ideal linux distribution would be one that allows one to install any application via a GUI and effectively keep away all dependancy away from You – because there would be none. That way everyone really can install what they want.

    The ideal linux distribution uses *.deb packages, installable via synaptics/apt, as this has turned out to be the most advanced package system (since I have started using sidux my dependancy trouble has significantly reduced).

    The ideal linux distribution would allow me to update my complete system without reboot, using my favourite GUI tool (e.g. synaptics). All stuff in memory would be unloaded once and then reloaded in its new up-to-date version.

    The ideal linux distribution would enable one to use the same libs, applications etc. parallely even if they have different version numbers. This is already true with gobo linux, which I dislike only because it does not have a *.deb compatible package installation system, and therefore there is no day to day system updating possible (at least not in a convenient GUI way…)

    This is one of the main and worst troublesome things on even the most advanced distributions:
    It is impossible to install an update of one application when this leads to a second application being removed which is incompatible with the updated libs introduced by updating the first one. I myself have “lost” some applications that way. If outdated libs could be kept if the application relying on them is removed then applications relying on different versions of the same lib could be installed happyly without interfering each other.

    I would love a debian style distribution that allows me to keep different versions of the same applications, libs etc. at the same time. I wonder if this already is out there?

    Further to the discussion about GUI vs. non-GUI applications: non-GUI stuff typically is scriptable which also means its output can be routed to some other application and work on it. Try that with a GUI application…


  110. pudgypup says:

    Much of what your dream distro wannabe is looking for is contained in puppy. Lighthouse pup 4.42 looks awesome, works awesome. I have Vista and Mint, but I ENJOY puppy. See for yourself:

  111. master-razorstrap says:

    I think the perfect Ubuntu based Distro would be Ubuntu WITHOUT anything else, where after installation it walks you through your personal choices for sound, video, media, desktop environment/s, icons, etc. The true “Distro Perfecto” is the one that “fits” every user. What better way to fit than to cater to each individual during setup? It would take a while to set up, but when you’re done, you’re done. It’s not like anyone on linux/debian systems aren’t used to taking some time out to make their box work.

    I’m just sayin.

  112. » Ubuntu 9.10 - Almost Perfect says:

    […] little background:  Back in May I wrote an article titled “The Perfect Linux Distro” where I laid out what I would view as, well, the perfect Linux […]

  113. Big Nose says:

    I really dislike the need to type passwords to perform just about any admin task on an ubuntu system. Really drives me mad, it’s MY computer, I should have permission to do anything.

    Controversial this one, but…”Give user option to have permanent root access from day one”

    Yes, yes, people well whine about it being unsecure etc etc, but tbh, on ubuntu as it stands, the constant request for passwords and the use of sudo commands doesn’t make it any harder for the user to mess up their system, it’s just a longer and more tedious version of Vista’s UAC.

    Oh, and get a good onscreen keyboard on there for tablet users, and make the user tick the licence agreement boxes for all the restricted content and get it installed by default.

  114. Rick Astley says:

    Make a distro for n00bs.

    N00buntu or Winux or something like that.
    It could have no password prompts and all of its software could be closed source.
    It would be teh epic and wai user friendly.

  115. Don J. Thorpe says:

    This website describes my custom Distro exactly! I call mine “gnuStudio”. I am almost finished. However, I need people who are willing to help with beta-testing, optimization, etc. And help too with a SGI-like icon theme.

    I like mac-like icon themes, but there are far too many! The world has forgotten the SGI look with isometric icons!
    Just take a look at gnome-look and you’ll see what i mean! Too many OSX based themes! Time for a change!

    If anyone is willing to help, I will list you on a “contribution” page. Well, I hope somebody posts something!
    I can see that there is a demand out there! My distro might be the answer!

  116. John Composed says:

    Great article, here’s my way 2 many cents.
    The Base/Package manager: I like Ubuntu. It has problems, but I love .deb and apt. An average user of windows/mac would never be installing from source code, and there’s no reason why we should have to. (Also, yum/.rpm don’t play as well with dependencies for my experience.)

    Desktop Environment: Currently, I prefer gnome, as it can be very nice looking, but, unlike KDE, it still feels practical. For me, KDE feels pretty, but a lot of features are pretty useless. (An always open window for desktop, Really? Why don’t we just the Desktop on the desktop?)

    That said, we need something different than the norm, something we can say is only ours. Overall I think KDE, and more importantly, the KDE programs, hold our best hope for distinguishing ourself from the other big 2. (Course, it’s not on my computer yet, so i think it has a way to go before it fulfills its destiny.)

    Docky is a good dock, but it’s still to much in it’s infancy to be a real contender. The other problem with that type of dock is when we use it, we run the risk of being called an OS-X knockoff. I think we need another way of showing off programs that is neither like windows, nor like OS-X. If we wish to create something truly innovative, we will need to thing outside the box of current Operating systems.

    Font: Same preaching here, something different blah blah blah. But seriously, some different and high quality fonts would be great. There are lots of good free fonts on the web, why don’t we just use the best of them?

    I don’t like Click N Run, it reminds me too much of corporate online stores. But Get Deb is good, and I really like Linux Mints “app store” or whatever they call it.

    Strict Package updating rules. Absolutely. This is needed desperately.

    Office Suite: OpenOffice is ok, but in keeping with my “different” philosophy, I think KOffice would be better.

    Audio/Video Framework: *shrug* The most reliable will be king.

    Video Player: Miro is more of a video finder, but still should be included. VLC seems like a better all-around video player.

    Media Center: Moovida. Unless someone can offer a better solution.

    Audio Player: I prefer Amarok, but, as they are both great players, it is not that important.

    Audio Editor: I agree this should be included in the distro.

    From most complicated+ powerful to easiest+ weakest.
    -Ardour is indeed very powerful, but not very user-friendly.
    -Linux Multimedia Studio is a easer to use, but less powerful, and still pretty hard to use.
    -Rosegarden is the middle ground, and my pick for this category, for three reasons. First, It is powerful, but not as thorough as Ardour or LMS. But this is okay, because (2) Rosegardens greatest strength is it’s fantastic ability to work well with other software. Finally, I it is approachable. Not completely intuitive, but I never felt like I couldn’t learn it
    -Jokosher. I really want to like Jokesher, but the interface seems easy but very unintuative, like an elite club that you feel like you would fit in well, but they aren’t interested in having any new members.
    -Audacity is very easy to use, but it feels too much like a one trick application. It can edit audio well, and that is it.

    Video Editor.

    -Pitivi is buggy and featureless, but it seems like it has the most potential.
    -Kdenlive is slighly more buggy, but currently it is more advanced and equally intuitive as Pitivi.
    -OpenMovieEditor is buggy, less advanced than Kdenlive, but more advanced than Pitivi.
    -There are others, like Cinerella or Kino, but those don’t seem intuitive enough for mass use.
    Overall, it seems like a very close race for the top 3. I don’t know who will win the Linux Video Editor race, but the future looks pretty bright.

    I think, if we want to jump start the progress of a software category, we should hold a contest with a cash prize for the best (judge+ community voted) of that category with a year deadline.

    Photo Management

    F-spot is not bad, but Digikam is a much more powerful option. Unfortunately, Digikam has quite a few bugs and doesn’t feel as polished as it should be. The only other contender is Picassa, but it doesn’t have a real linux port, it only exists as self-contained WINE program.

    For casual gamers, KDE has a nice set of games that I prefer to gnomes games. Linux has a nice set of games, you just have to know where to look. As I recall, had a nice list of them, but a bit of googling can turn up some other good ones.

    Skype defiantly.
    I have used both Empathy and Pidgin, and even though pidgin occasionally gives me problems, I still prefer it to Empathy. The main reason is that the plugins are superior, but i also prefer the interface.

    Web Browsing:
    Firefox is the obvious choice.
    But what if we think outside the box for a moment. Mac has Safari, Windows has IE, what other options do we have that’s relatively linux-only.

    I am a big fan of Konquerer. There is something about it I really like, plus, it has add-block and other features that make it an appealing choice. That said, I still use Firefox. Take that for what you will.

    I prefer Thunderbird to Evolution, but meh.

    Development Enviroment:
    Well, now that we use KDE, we can use QT Creator. Also, this means no legal battles about MonoDevelop. Yay!

    Installed by default. I like the idea of also having air installed.

    Overall, I think The best chance for Linux success comes from KDE and kde programs. If the developers for Kubuntu started doing things right (KDE is pretty, we know, now make it useful!), I think we could have a real winner.

    Unrelated to the rest of the post, I think master-razorstrap has a very idea, maybe if we could use the live cd idea to demo software during the installation…..

    -John (I just realized how long this comment got, so I am adapting it to a post on my site, visit it if you have comments on any of my opinions/ideas.)

  117. theodore says:

    The only changes I would make to your list would be thunderbird 3 for e-mail as its easier to use. And for a player VLC or GOM player. Great choices.

  118. Nick Lancaster says:

    This is very similar to how I had my computer set up a little while ago. I eventually gave up on gnome-do because of the lost space, but other than that pretty similar.

  119. Gary Pewitt says:

    For the sake of us newbies please include a method of installing -without- wiping out all data by formatting the drives. And without screwing up the windoz install on another drive. I had a very nice installation of Ubuntu 9.04
    on one drive and Windows XP-64 on the other. Worked great until I updated to Ubuntu 9.10, Then I had nothing! I could repair windoz without re-formatting the drive but not Ubuntu.
    Would it be that hard to make it re-install -without- re-formatting?

  120. Steven says:

    I first heard about Linux about 10 years ago when I saw Al Roker doing a story on it, and I’ve been playing with it on and off ever since, now in virtualization on my Mac, but could never full switch as much as I wanted to.

    Finally I’m just setting up a dedicated box for my LCD TV for my boy to surf, watch online content, and be my main media center. Seriously… while I’m on the topic, I’m not sure why all TVs don’t come standard with a mini Linux board already installed!

    Thanks so much for sharing this information, I’m still lost in many areas and these mods and recommendations were exactly what I’ve been searching for.

  121. carpet says:

    nice article thanks for the info very helpful

  122. kowari says:

    I fully agree, buddy, you hit the nail right on the head ! Now – where can I get it ?

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