Roll your own Linux?

by David Brickner

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A few months ago Ian Murdock announced his intent to build a componentized Linux. Though I read his announcement, I have to admit I still came away a little confused. He seemed to be describing what I thought Debian and Gentoo already were, minimal systems that let you tightly control what you put on top of them.

Now it's a couple of months later and Progeny, Ian's company, is releasing a Developer's edition that delivers on his idea. I'll have to download it and check it out.

I like the idea of rolling my own Linux distro. But to me the idea needs to go one step further. Don't just make it easy for users to decide which packages they want (don't all the distros do that?), or make it flexible for the users to change certain components like making it easy to rev KDE or Gnome (something hard to do in Lycoris, Lindows, and Xandros); instead, make it easy for the user to choose which hardware detection subsystem they want to use, which package installation subsystem, which gui or text based installer, which init system, and so on.

Let the user really roll their own Linux distro, which can be useful in businesses and universities that want to provide a completely customized Linux that completely suits their needs.

Maybe that is what Ian's new project will do. I guess I'll understand more once I download the iso's and give it a shot.


2004-07-15 07:04:19
Debian's children
I'm pretty interested as well in how 'componentized linux' is going to play out and will be keeping an eye on this new rebirth of Progeny.

Also interesting is Bruce Parens (also of Debian fame) UserLinux project - completely different directions on this one. The aim is apparently to provide a system with limited choices. For example they only plan to have one wm/desktop which is apparently going to be GNOME, only one browser, only one word processor, etc. The idea is to make it a standard for businesses to adopt which makes sense to me because businesses that choose to adopt linux would be better served if their support personnel only had to be an expert say in AbiWord rather than an expert in Abi, KWord, writer, etc.

The UserLinux project is having some trouble getting off the ground I guess - mostly because many many people would rather have KDE as the default wm/desktop but me being a GNOME preferrer I like the choice of GNOME :).

2004-07-19 03:37:24
Debian's children
I can understand why some people prefer KDE, but I think they're misguided in trying to change the choice of GNOME for UserLinux. UL is based on the premise of using only free software in the fullest sense. Given that premise, KDE (and QT in particular) is simply not an option.

By getting hung up on the KDE issue what these people are actualy doing is arguing against the principle of a radical free software desktop.

There are many projects out there, KDE is the default or prefered desktop on many distros, so I realy don't see what all the fuss is about. A componentized system might allow people to make such choices in a more personal way rather than in the context of a community effort, but community projects such as UL will always have a place.

Simon Hibbs