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"Desktop" too generic

"Desktop" too generic

Posted Nov 26, 2003 6:24 UTC (Wed) by frazier (guest, #3060)
In reply to: "Desktop" too generic by jamienk
Parent article: Interview with Andreas Typaldos, Xandros CEO

Why not optimize distributions for specific tasks?
There is some value in that, I know that I would like a more niche-centric desktop distribution, kind of like what SME Server/e-smith does for a small office server. They cut down the packages quite a bit (there's no GCC on install) and they have about 3 security updates a year. No sendmail helps there too. I think another option is to have multiple install options, kinda like whet Red Hat does with Personal Desktop vs. Workstation on their install, but with more and better (smaller) options.

Here's some of the things I've found wrong with the Linux desktops I've played with to date:

  1. Too much stuff: I don't need the security liability of an MTA like sendmail on my desktop box. I don't need it taking up space or consuming resources. I don't need it period, and many users like myself with most of their recent desktop time on MS products won't need it and won't miss it.
  2. Too much overhead: My RH9 desktop is heavy! I suppose if I were using a new computer and not this AMD K6-3 450 it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe over time this won't be a factor due to Moore's law, I don't know. I do know that RH9 slugs on this AMD box compared to Win98... ...big time (but RH9 is stable).
  3. Inconsistency in UIs between applications.
  4. Too many default installed applications.
I don't think a new distribution is necessary for each profile of desktop user, though. Instead, why not have about half a dozen desktop installation profiles to chose from? Here's some off the top of my head thoughts...

A. Me, I want a lighter window manager, no MTA, Mozilla, OpenOffice, Evolution is fine, plus a graphical FTP/SSH client. GCC is debatable. This would be the 'light desktop'. Look at e-smith. The desktop equivelent of that is what I want. Many computer users don't need a compiler or an MTA on their systems.

B. From there, you could bump up to a GNOME desktop with more stuff. This would be a 'GNOME Desktop'.

C. Then of course there's KDE, so the similar option would be 'KDE Desktop'.

D. The 'Bloated Desktop' would offer about everything under the sun for Desktop use. It'd run KDE and GNOME, and tons of apps. (you wouldn't call it 'Bloated', but that's what it'd be)

E. 'Developer's desktop'. Set up with Apache and all those goodies, plus OpenOffice, Mozilla, compilers, etc. etc.

F. 'Simple Desktop'. Something really simplified, perhaps running an OEone type interface. The simple desktop is Grandma's desktop.

My disappointment with the Desktop distrubutions I've played with to date is that they're either defective on installing and/or they're huge default installs, artificially huge. Xandros ranks among the better ones I've played with. ELX on a fast box had merit. (though the installer could use some polish)

I don't see why there needs to be an entirely new distribution for each of the above. Have a default installation floor for each install option ('light desktop', 'GNOME Desktop', etc.), and allow people to add apps as needed in the installer or afterwords.

I to this day haven't been fully satisfied with any desktop distribution. Honestly, the Xandros 2.0 looks like a nice option, about as good as any. It's a shame it's not free as in speech or as in beer.

Maybe gnUserLinux will address this. I hope so. Right now a challenge I find inside and outside of business is a desktop distribution to recommend. Hopefully the name will change to something more marketable, I'm still not liking the idea of explaining "This is good software" and keeping attention there while also explaining "the 'gn' is silent". Please Mr. Perens, use a name that's marketable. You'd think 'stable' and 'free' would be enough to sell something regardless of name but in reality it has to be sold to management and they aren't always the most technically saavy and some will decide against something in part because it 'sounds stupid'. Unfortunately, those of us not at the top of the rock pile have to suffer when a superior doesn't get it.

-Brock


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