A Dream Distro, looking from a noob’s perspective

Catch any Tom, Dick and Harry and ask him “What is Linux?”. What is the answer you expect? The result I get is “Linux is the opium of the geeks”. The image which they have of Linux is people sitting in front of black and white screen typing some obsecure characters and the computer replies back with even more weird results.

For the time being, consider that you were nowhere into the field of computers. Some friend of you asks you to try out Linux. How would you feel? To feel the same you need to first unmount the geekism in you and walk a mile in the shoes of a newbie. The points I mention here, is my requirements for the dream distro and even same for most of the windows convert.

I know many of them are not possible as of now. It can be a milestone for the future.

Everything just works

Isn’t this a very important requirement? I can’t spend hours setting up softwares and installing drivers or fixing them. Configuration and fine-tuning is something different than what I mean to say. I need productivity – install and start working!

Open Drivers

Nothing sucks more than installing a distro and finding that due to driver problems, you hardware refuses to work or works poorly. Broadcom/Atheros wirless, Nvidia/ATI graphics are well know for killing potential new Linux users. Broadcom wifi chipsets gives driver problem when it is required to work, e.g. conferences, seminars etc. Hope its is fixed by now.

I can expect companies to follow Intel’s path even though its quite tough. Intel’s wireless,wired and graphics chipset have open driver. They all work out of box without any glitches.

Minimal Bloat, only important configuration options exposed

Who would like to Install Linux and end up finding 4 apps for each damn task? Keep bloat at the lowest level possible, at the same time make installation of new software darn easy. Notifications should come up if installation of something new is requirement.

Please keep the unwanted and less used config options under “Advanced” button. Only the most required and most accessed config option should be exposed. More the config options, more is the confusion!

Suspend-Resume-Hibernate

Many of the people whom I shifted to Linux were really pissed off when suspend-hibernate simply refused to work. No one wants to re-start their system each time they need it. Latest distros like Ubuntu and Fedora re doing a very neat job of decreasing boot time. Remember, it was the horrible boot time of Vista which had pissed off so many users.

Looks and Artwork

People who have become full time Linux user simply ignore the look factor and concentrate on functionality. This is not the case of others. Remember, every other person is not a geek. Never expect them to know  things beforehand. Teach them. They would surely have a knack for beauty, fancy and looks. They would surely want to show it to their friends. Compiz is an answer for WoW effect which Vista popularized and Mac people show it daily to every passer-by.

A community which doesn’t say RTFM and STFW

Believe it or not, the newcomers are really pissed off by these remarks. If you don’t have time to reply, ignore them. If you want to say these two words, then answer their doubt and append a line at the last explaining that they should RTFM and STFW, that too in a polite way.

There are many users who are very friendly and answer the same doubt again and again on the mailing lists or forums. For example, “The Absolute Beginner’s Section” is meant only for people who heard the name of the disto just 24 hrs back. I can find same doubts again and again and again. “How to install codecs?”,”How to install software”,”How to enable this….”. They are never dealt with rudeness. The same question is answered again and again by patient volunteers with appending at the end of post “Next time, you can get even quicker solution if you use Google Search“. Isn’t it  an extremely sweet way to say STFW? 😀

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6 thoughts on “A Dream Distro, looking from a noob’s perspective

  1. this post came just after i cleared all my doubts with manish regarding new UBUNTU 9.04.
    i am damn excited now….to really experienced the feel of a totally different OS and an awesome distro…

    HATS OFF to you man, even you keep your patience when talking to a n00b like me 😛

    this post will be really special for me….and ya did i forgot?? congrats your blog is listed on UBUNTU list and also on wordpress promising blogs….GOOD LUCK !!

  2. For noobs, I recommend KDE instead of Gnome as it is closer to the WIndows look that everyone is used to. (the top bar with the text is strange to many people)

    Mandriva Linux 2009 is the distro I have installed for family and friends with PCLinuxOS2009. The first runs KDE4.2 while the second runs KDE3.5 but its more or less the same.

    Ive installed over 100 different computers over the past 3 years at Lugfests and KDE wins out about 70-80% of the time.

    Distros arent really any big deal, its the choice of desktop environments which give it the look.

    Ive been running Kubuntu (the Ubuntu that runs KDE) 8.10 next to Mandriva, Gentoo and even Opensuse to see if KDE4.2 was ready for family.friends (it was) for over a month and if you put these KDE distros side by side, there is NO difference.
    A few icons and wallpapers (oooooh!) but really, its the same.

    Talk to me about which implementation is better and my eyes start to glaze like when friends talk to me about the bouquet and nose of a certain wine.

    Your main choices is KDE, Gnome and XCFE (which is a must for old computers like my P3 Thinkpad T21), those dictate the look and software that comes with it by default.
    The rest is a result of taste, PR, and people pushing for ‘their distro’ and if you think Mac fanbois were rabid in their defense of their precious expensive OS, then you have seen idiots online rave about how ‘their’ distro has something amazingly unique. That every other distro has too.

    Choice is good. If you want to roll your own disro, go for it. But many distros are pretty redundant and trying to differentiate those that have same desktops is a big waste of time which fills up way too many blogs.

    All the Compiz effects (I use about 6 useful ones) are included in KDE’s built in Kwin.

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