Non-trivial custom distros require non-trivial work
Posted Sep 13, 2007 7:28 UTC (Thu) by jhs
Parent article: Fedora reaching out to new niches
I'm sure Revisor is a useful tool for its purpose of making custom collections of packages. But the collections will not generally "work well together" unless a lot more work is done to integrate them. The integration effort is distro-specific and not automatable; but the result is something actually enticing to new users. For genuinely interesting new distros, the time saved using a tool like Revisor is marginal.
Making a useful and novel custom distro is much more work than simple package selection. Making something interesting and useful to new users requires significant integration work and programming to connect the components together in a coherent way. This is what the system administration profession is, and this is why Ubuntu is not merely an assortment of a few packages from Sid. My rule of thumb is, the aggregate work done by package maintainers to fit each application into a general-purpose distro is about equal to the work it takes to further integrate the packages into a special-purpose distro.
(I formed this opinion when I was the lead developer for a Thai government project making a distribution intended to be everything a small business needs: file sharing, wiki, email, instant messaging, more. It was customized Debian, 100% free software, completely LDAP-based, and easy to use.)
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