After switching distros a couple of times and writing about it here, it seemed appropriate (especially given what I wrote at the end of the last post) to define what, exactly, I want in a distro. The answer is simple.
- Relatively simple to get up and running. Gentoo is awesome, FreeBSD is awesome, but they both suffer from the same problem: it takes too long to go from nothing to fully ready and operational desktop. Bear in mind what I am saying here. It is not that it is too hard or done the wrong way. It just takes too long. Setting up the OS should not itself be a minor hobby.
- Powerful package management tools. Apt-get/aptitude is inflexible, but stable yum & company is inflexible and not stable, and Gentoo is flexible but a little more flaky. All in all, I prefer Gentoo's system, but the long and short is that I want powerful, flexible package management tools. I don't want a psychic "I'll do it for you" system. I just want good tools.
- A full system after install. I don't want to have to do a lot of low-level work on the system after installing it. I want to be able to add software and go.
- Sleek, but not emaciated. Following point 3 above, I want a system that is set up (desktop, splash screens, bootloader, etc.) but not bloated. Fedora is bloated. SuSE is bloated. Heck, Sabayon is bloated and I never thought I'd see a Gentoo-based bloated distro.
It's a relatively simple list. Most distros swing too far to one end or the other. Raw Gentoo is a semi-automated Linux from scratch. SuSE is everything and the kitchen sink. I want something that helps me get started, but puts me at the controls thereafter. Of the items on that list, number four is, I think, the only left that could use a bit of explanation. What do I consider "sleek, but not emaciated?" Well, like I indicated above, I want a bootloader, splash screens and a desktop, but what else? I think that the answer should be:
- GNU autotools/automake--despite all of the calls to make Linux more user-friendly, the only tried and true install method is still ./configure, make, and make install.
- A good shell (bash)
- A web browser
- An office suite
- A media player
- A couple of simple games.
The problem with the bloated distros is that they usually provide several versions of each. Actually, this is something that I think Ubuntu does fairly well on the whole. It covers the bases, but it doesn't add seven web browsers, four bittorrent clients, three office suites, ad nauseum.
That said, I can assure you that MCPLinux will not be entering production anytime soon. Why? Well, I would want to bring something new to the table. You can get what I advocated above with a properly tuned and configured distro. So why go to more work? There are quite enough distros in the world. Moreover, it is a problem that I just don't consider interesting. The whole point of rolling a distro is to do all of the dirty work for someone else. Truth be told, in this arena, I just don't want to do the dirty work. Hopefully someone else will do it. I have my own projects to complete (like Ocean).