Elzair

My dream distro

16 posts in this topic

I do not like the current state of affairs of Linux distributions, and I want to create my own. I want it to be as simple and lightweight as possible, while still being convenient to use. After playing with Linux for nearly three years, I think I have the 'skillz' necessary to begin work on my own Linux distribution. I am unsure of a few things, however. First, on what existing distro should I base my dream distro? Source-based distros are out of the question (Goodbye Gentoo, Sorcerer, etc.), and Debian seems much too complicated for my tastes. I want something simple, but with a good set of tools (bash, gcc, make, autoconf, etc.). Right now I am torn between Slackware and Arch Linux. I have never used either distros, but they seem to provide the simple base system I want. Does anyone have any preferences? If I go with Slackware, does anybody have any advice or links to places that would help me cross-compile (or just install the various package sets) to a spare partition from a Vector Linux install (which is based off Slackware).

Alright, if I am able to decide on the base distribution, here are the other features I want in my dream distribution:

- Linux 2.6.17+udev

- hardware autodetection (it should not be too hard to rip off another distribution's hardware autodetection)

- Grub would be the bootloader installed by default. The splash screen will also have to look snazzy.

- Development tools: gcc, g++, java, python, perl, tcltk, gcl, guile, mono, cvs, subversion, cvsup, and the source code to the entire distribution would come standard.

- There will be a directory (maybe /usr/programs) where all the user (read: desktop) programs can be stored, and the directory hierarchy for each package in /usr/programs would look like this:

program
program-2.5
program-2.6
program -> program-2.6

When the program is updated, the package manager would create a symbolic link that pointed to the latest version of the package, which would make updating easier.

- All the userland packages would also be statically compiled and have all the necessary data located in their directories; also, the source code for the package would be found in a little src directory inside the package.

- Instead of the last two points, maybe I could use the Klik packaging system, but the package's source code would still be shipped by default.

- Reiserfs would be the default filesystem, but this distro would also support Ext2/3, FAT32, NTFS (at least read support), HFS+ (for iPod support), XFS and JFS (maybe?).

Desktop related matters:

- Xgl will be used if I thought it was stable enough; otherwise, vanilla X11R7 will be used.

- The GTK-1.2, GTK-2.0, and QT libraries will all be included to maintain compatiblity with other applications, but QT will be the widget toolkit of choice for my desktop.

- Window management will be awesome! At the press of the button, the windows will sort themselves from the top of the screen to the bottom, so that the top of the window would always be visible. If you wanted to view the contents of that window, you would just click on the top, and that window would bring itself to the bottom. The window decorations would have to be very thin, though.

- Optional: At the bottom of the screen there will be a pop-up panel that contains a number of rows corresponding to the number of virtual displays you have. On each row, you would see a list of all the windows on each desktop. Moving a window between desktops would be a simple matter of clicking and dragging it to another desktop.

- The X terminal emulator will be similar to Yakuake.

- The menu panel (which contains all the applications in various categories, such as Internet, Office, Utilities, etc.) will lie along the left side of the screen.

- All the applications will be tweaked to have similar keybindings, which favor the windows style:

Ctrl+a: Highlight all text
Ctrl+c: copy
Ctrl+x: cut
Ctrl+v: paste
Shift+End: Highlight to end of line
etc.

Desktop applications:

- Only a small number of packages will be included, so the included packages can be tightly integrated.

- XMMS will be the default audio player. Xine will be the default video player. If I do not distribute libdvdcss or all the MPlayer codecs (which might be a good idea, considering where I live), I would allow them to be easily installed as part of the installation process (or maybe I can find someone else who is willing to host this distribution).

- Firefox will be the default browser, and it will have 'better' default settings: ask for all cookies, a shorter History, a smaller cache, etc. Plus, it will come with Flashgot, NoScript, Adblock, Adblock Filterset Updater, DownThemAll, FasterFox, Forecast Fox, AspellFox and Tab Mix Plus. It would also have the Flash, Java, and Xine plugins.

- Eclipse would also be installed by default, since I heard it was a good IDE.

- The text editor would be based off of KWrite.

- OpenOffice.org would also be included.

- Ditto for Wine.

If I ever fulfilled those requirements, I would also like to tackle some other things:

- The distro would be LSB compliant, to help package developers.

- The distro would come with a system management console, that not only allowed you to tweak the display, mouse, desktop themes, etc., but also allowed you to view all mounted partitions, the routing table, the logs, a list of all running processes, and you could administer the system from this console.

- The distro will have an easy to use automounter that will mount all removable media (unless specified otherwise) so that everyone may read it.

- The distro will include rlocate, so the database will easily stay up-to-date.

- A GUI front-end to r/slocate will make it easy to search for files on your hard drive, similar to beagle, but without the Mono dependency.

- I will use Anaconda as a graphical installer, and I will integrate QTParted into the installer, so one can dynamically repartition Windows while installing Linux.

- I will try to make the installation as simple as possible, with it only asking what partitions you want to create (ONLY in advanced mode), what timezone you are in (querying an NTP server should net the proper time), what is your real name, what username and password do you want to use, and would you like to install non-free binary drivers (from ATI & Nvidia) to improve your graphics performance.

- I will try to make the default terminal look like the terminal on the Gentoo LiveCD.

So what does everyone think? What P2P should I include? What about IM & IRC clients, and FTP/SSH clients? What Window Manager and/or DE should I use for my

'kick-ass' desktop? What graphical file manager would be a good choice? How should I construct the system so that it would be easy to update while maintaining

backwards compatibility?

post-706-1153028692_thumb.jpg

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I'd say use Slackware for a base system, but I'm pretty biased on that! From the apps you want to include (KWrite, YaKuake, etc) you might want to use KDE for speed -- otherwise, you'll have to include the KDE libs with whatever window manager you choose. For your X system, I'd use X.org 7 with the Composite extensions, so that you can have nice drop shadows and true composite transparency.

Apps I'd include:

irssi for IRC

gaim for chat

Phex for Gnutella

Azureus for BitTorrent

gFTP for graphical FTP

aterm for lightweight X terminal

There's probably more, but that's all that comes to mind at the immediate. I'm not sure if there's an equivalent for KDE natively, but some system monitor (CPU, memory, swap, thermals, network interfaces, etc) dockapps would be cool.

EDIT: oh yeah, VLC is a pretty kickass media player. I've had success with it in places that Xine wouldn't work (Matroska files with weird encodings usually)

Edited by systems_glitch
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Honestly, I'm using Xandros Linux and I'm pretty impressed with it.

Was a longtime Slackware user and I still use it for my laptop as it's the only distro that still works on my antiquated machine however for my desktop I got a copy of Xandros Desktop 3.0 OCE and it works amazingly well.. they made alot of tweaks to KDE not found in other distros and made it exceptionally fast and manageable.

Look it up (they were formerly Corel Linux).

http://www.xandros.com

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If you want to maintain lightweight, don't include an IM client and make users use bitlbee since it's so lightweight, it has no client for you to install.

One question, why do users need transparency? Sure, it's pretty but it's not actually useful. To me, it seems to take away from the lightweight idealism at hand.

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umm they weren't formely Corel it's just that Xandros is based on 3.0 of Corel Linux, but they weren't Corel Linux. and btw you might want to use Slackware but I tednt to get away from Slackware more since they never update anything, but ti takes about a day to compile a base system.

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umm they weren't formely Corel it's just that Xandros is based on 3.0 of Corel Linux, but they weren't Corel Linux. and btw you might want to use Slackware but I tednt to get away from Slackware more since they never update anything, but ti takes about a day to compile a base system.

"and btw you might want to use Slackware but I tednt to get away from Slackware more since they never update anything"

Repeat: I will not spout bullshit, I will not spout bullshit, I will not spout bullshit.

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When it comes down to it, there isn't a practical need for transparency I can think of, that couldn't be solved other ways. But is there a practical need for wallpapers? Probably not a strong enough answer to actually justify loading Composites and slowing a system down, but I use it frequently to view web pages (HOWTO's mostly) through a console window, so I'm not constantly resizing or minimizing my console window. Other than that, it *is* pretty much fluff, I suppose!

Midnight Commander would be a good choice for console-based tools, as another "good to have" piece of software.

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You could also include mpd or MOC for console-based music players since IMO, xmms2 is very heavyweight. I use both everyday and I find xmms2 to be pretty useless now for what I need.

I like very lightweight systems but it's not because I have old/slow hardware, I just like things without cruft so I want to keep everything as light as I can. If I were to build a distro based on my needs, the WM might be fluxbox unless I want extreme minimalism (like now) and I'd opt for either ion3 (my current WM), ratpoison, or something similar to dwm (based on wmii3).

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umm they weren't formely Corel it's just that Xandros is based on 3.0 of Corel Linux, but they weren't Corel Linux.

Umm they were most certainly formerly Corel Linux.

Corel sold their rights to their Linux distribution to Xandros. Most of the previous developers who worked for Corel were then hired by Xandros. Guys like Ming Poon and Dr. Frederick H. Berenstein are all former Corel guys.

Hence... Xandros Linux... Formerly Corel Linux.

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Founded in 2001, the company is located in New York City and Ottawa, Ontario. Their distributions are based on Corel Linux, a Debian-based distribution which was acquired from Corel Corporation that same year after Corel decided to leave the Linux distribution market.

...from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xandros

n August 2001, Xandros acquired the Corel Linux Business Division's award winning software development team with the objective of creating the Xandros Desktop.

...from Xandros' site: http://www.xandros.com/about/corporatebackground.html

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what |cfh| not my fault that slackware has only one developer, anyways if they bought Corel rights then they call it Corel Linux. They just bought the team and the other stuff but they don't hold the rights

Edited by kitche
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what |cfh| not my fault that slackware has only one developer, anyways if they bought Corel rights then they call it Corel Linux. They just bought the team and the other stuff but they don't hold the rights

"what |cfh| not my fault that slackware has only one developer"

Perhaps you should look into things before making a statement. "Jackass" isnt a very sexy badge to wear.

Edit: Forgot im at binrev, sorry.

Continue

Edited by |cfh|
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I did look things up. and all I seen is that they got the team and use 3.0 Corel Linux for a base. which means it's a fork.

Edited by kitche
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I think it should be noted that you should work to make it work perfectly before working on all the features. There are tons of distros I've seen that offer all kinds of cool stuff, and then I install them and the thing doesn't even work, I probably could get it to work if I spent a ton of time messing with a bunch of stuff, but I don't want to have to do that, ideally a distro should work great right from the install.

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what |cfh| not my fault that slackware has only one developer, anyways if they bought Corel rights then they call it Corel Linux. They just bought the team and the other stuff but they don't hold the rights

Ummm they can't call it Corel Linux because Corel is still in business.

However they certainly own the rights to Corel Linux as they still support previous versions.

Essentially Corel Linux was a side project of Corel (makers of Paint and Wordperfect). During the dotcom crash and crash of Nortel in Ottawa, the tech sector went through a reorganization. The small team who had developed Corel Linux left the company and started their own...they then negotiated with Corel to purchase the support rights and Corel being in trouble at the time agreed.

I know this company very well... So I'm not gonna argue this you..keep in mind where I'm from.

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