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I'm a fairly prominent member of the Linux Community as a writer, contributor, and longtime evangelist for the cause and there are a few things I'd like the Community-at-Large to consider on my behalf. These are five things that I wish Linux had. Consider this as my wish list for the 2009 development calendar.

1. Built-in Paravirtualization - I want a distribution that is paravirtualized--that is to say, a distribution that comes out of the box ready to give you the virtualization you need as a hypervisor OS. I know there's projects like JeOS and ProxMox but I want a major company like Red Hat or Canonical (Ubuntu) to give me their VirtOS. It would install as a hypervisor and be ready to go virtualization. Did I mention that it needs to be free? I have a very anemic budget for such things.

2. Applications on Demand - Instead of installing all the applications I want, or think I want, up front, I'd like to have the opportunity to install applications on demand. I want the icons already there as options but when I click the icon for the first time, the application installs, with all its damn dependencies and I have my application. The other side of this coin is that applications that I never, or rarely, use--they should uninstall and await my next summons via the waiting icon. Why waste the disk space if I hardly ever use it?

3. Microsoft Office - No, I'm not selling out here and I know about OpenOffice.org but come on, think of the user base that would come from that port. Linux users are typically anti-Microsoft but how many would still use Microsoft Office? And, how many companies might convert to Linux if MS Office were available for it? I don't know, maybe it's just me.

4. A Non-Windows-Looking-Acting-Emulating Window Manager - Every Window Manager with the exception of maybe XFCE (which looks like MacOS X) looks like, and tries to emulate, Windows. Can't someone come up with a different schema? Do we have to wait for Microsoft to come up with something so that we can copy it? Come on, get creative.

5. Interaction - Windows may be "chatty" but at least people know what the hell is going on. Linux's non-chatty personality is OK for me, and maybe you, but what about newbies or wannabe converts? They are left cold. Plug in a peripheral and nothing happens--nothing visible at least. Why should I have to open a Terminal Window and mount a flash drive disk that I just stuck in my computer? Why can't Linux mount it and open it to show me the contents? And why can't there be some messages when I plug in my digital camera to my Linux computer like Windows? Yeah, I know I said I want a GUI that doesn't look or act like Windows but I need some feedback here.
Do I know that my digital camera, USB drive, or voice recorder is recognized at all? Need some dialog boxes or progress bars or confrontations at high noon--something.

As I said, Linux is fine for hackabee like me but we want regular people to want to use it too, right? My near 70 year old in-laws aren't going to use Linux--hell, they have trouble messing with Vista (no, I didn't put it on there).

Develop a new Linux for a new audience: Ma and Pa Kettle. Make it easy to use, free, and easy to convert to. Apple is offering to move all your documents over if you buy their stuff. We need someone to step up and take a serious look at making Linux an "Everyman's" operating system.

Meanwhile, I'll hack away at my CentOS 5.x system.

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Last Post by rubberman
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I like some of your wish list, but perhaps your choice of distro needs to be reconsidered. When I stick a usb device in Ubuntu it mounts automatically and a file manager windows opens to display the contents. This works in all flavors of Ubuntu, so it isn't a Gnome or KDE thing.

I also strongly disagree with the window manager having to look like Windows. I don't think they do. Most outshine Windows in every respect, especially if you dress it up with Compiz Fusion, AWN, Screenlets or Google Gadgets. There is no comparison and it seems to me that Windows has to play catch up. And then there is Enlightenment. Give Elive a look if you want to see a nice implementation of E17. The big thing is that you have choice. I have every possible window manager and decorator installed just because I can and I like to change the pace every now and then,

Finally, I don't see the need for MS Office which is bloated, has features that most people don't need or want and is way too expensive. It runs in Wine just fine, BTW.

That leaves me liking the first two. That's what I like about the Linux community. We are such a diverse lot. It is this very lack of consensus that works again wish lists such as yours coming true. Oh well, it doesn't hurt to wish.

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A commenter mentioned that you can make Linux look pretty by dressing it up. Lipstick on a pig, anyone? I think what Ken wants is more along the lines of jewelry on a bombshell.

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Oooo, well said scru, jewelry on a bombshell, I really like that. I may use it later for effect if you don't mind.

I've seen Enlightenment, and you're right, it's very nice. I'd like to see something distinctly different than MS Windows but since I'm not a developer, I can only wish from the sidelines. Actually MS Office 2003 works fairly well in Wine, but Outlook doesn't work at all and forget Office 2007. Most people use Word, Excel, and Outlook in MS Office and I would like for those to work whether it's in Wine or as a native app. Check out my Linux Magazine article on Wine at http://www.linux-mag.com/id/6539/. You can install IE on it too. ;-)

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And yes, games would also be nice but I suppose there are those who would say run your games in a Windows VM. IMHO, they just need to work better or we need a choice of Linux, Windows, or Mac versions when we install.

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1. I agree, that would be useful.

2. This sounds like a bad idea. Think about the number of apps available for Linux. You can't have an icon for every single one of them in your menus, so how would the devs decide which apps make the cut? Also, how would the system know which apps to uninstall? Would it even ask you before removing things?

3. No Linux projects can do a thing about this. It's up to Microsoft.

4. Sorry, but this just makes me thing "FAIL". I use Xfce, which looks nothing like either Windows or OS X. Actually, I've customized it to the point that it looks nothing like any other window manager I've ever seen. Also, while I agree that innovation is important, there's no sense in being different just for the sake of being different. If a window manager or desktop environment can change things in ways that are both new and useful, great (Xfce and almost all others already do this). However, if something works very well, it shouldn't matter whether it's new and different.

5. What's wrong with your system? I use Arch Linux with Xfce and the PCManFM file manager, and when I plug in a drive, an icon appears for the drive in the pane on the left of the file manager. I click the icon (which also has a name), and it is automatically mounted and opened.

As for spreading Linux to "average users", preinstallation is the only possible answer. "Ma and Pa Kettle" aren't going to install their own OS under any circumstances.

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Alright then. I'll make you one.
I'll need helper programmers mind you.
I'll now start this fodaddle, so if anyone has ideas or feedback email me:
dandart <at> google mail [dot] com

A distro with a simple change to the kernel can fulfil 1) 2 and 4 are great ideas and 5 is what we need the most.
An option for compatibility for Office would be made available.

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1. *shrugs* I don't get this whole virtualisation hype, para or otherwise. The only thing I would need to "virtualise" is MS Windows, but WINE is starting to be genuinely useful now.

2. No thanks. Really. I have enough disk space to keep my applications at the ready, and I really don't want all sorts of time-consuming and processor-hogging installs being triggered when I click some icon that wasn't "filled". I'll decide if and when to install stuff, and if I don't need an application I'll deinstall it manually, thanks.

3. *shrugs* No need for me personally, although I understand the wish. For now it will remain a wish though because Microsoft is hardly likely to give Linux a leg up in this way. Part of MS Windows's appeal is that it runs MS Office. Part of MS Office's appeal is that it runs under MS Windows. When MS Windows starts loosing so much market-share that Linux becomes a mainstream office environment, then is the time for Microsoft to release MS Office for Linux, but not before.

4. Absolutely not. MS Windows is functional, well-known, and well-thought-out interface-wise. Windows managers like KDE have just about managed to iron out the worst gaffes and have become genuinely useful. I get sick and tired of everyone who feels the interface has to be "creative" and uses that as an excuse to fragment the user-experience further. Linux is fragmented enough as it is. Really. An interface has to be unobtrusive, functional, documented, and reasonably powerful. It does *not* have to be exciting. Being called "boring" is probably the best complement an interface can get because it means people can find no other points of criticism.

5. Agreed; that would be quite helpful.

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What is "no, I'm not selling out here" supposed to mean when it's part of a recommendation that the GNU/Linux community work with Microsoft to port its closed-source Office suite to this platform? "Think of the user base that would come from that port," indeed. They would be users who would rather pay large fees to the company that has demonstrated at every opportunity its absolute contempt for open standards and staunch opposition to GNU/Linux (except when it's convenient or profitable to cooperate) than support projects like OpenOffice.org that are making similar functionality available free, in every sense of the word. Why on earth would we want such users?

I have a suggestion for those in the GNU/Linux community who don't give a toss about the free software ideals to which they owe the existence of their OS and applications, but would simply like to benefit from software they don't have to pay for: score yourselves some cheap, pirated versions of MS Windows, Office, etc., and that way you still get to do your "don't give me that 'values' crap, I just want my stuff for free" thing, only instead of hurting a generous and cooperative community, you hurt a greedy self-interested corporation. You wonder, "Linux users are typically anti-Microsoft, but how many would still use Microsoft Office?", and I wonder, "what do you think 'anti-Microsoft' means?".

If Linux users are typically anti-Microsoft, then it's safe to assume that we typically wouldn't use Microsoft Office. Those who would use it, and invite others to use it, are clearly *not* anti-Microsoft. This doesn't mean you're going to hell, there to be screamed at eternally by Richard Stallman: but it sure as heck does mean you're selling out.

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I think that you could do something like point 2 using Zero Install, or something similar. Although, I'm not sure that I want things auto uninstalling! Zero Install might allow a more dynamic installation of programs (as well as a more traditional model).

In regard to point five, I think that your hot-plugging notification example is not a good one. Most modern distributions and DE's have these kind of notifications enabled, even Centos 5.1, which I use at work.

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Nixer, His point was that He doesn't need microsoft office, and neither do most current linux users, but it's a big draw-back against mainstream adoption of the OS. I wouldn't use Microsoft office on Linux, but a lot of businesses could benefit from Linux if they didn't have to give up Microsoft office.

If we want to talk about Open Source ordeals, let's make Open office more interoperable with MS Office!!! oh yeah... the most popular and critical office suite in the world is closed source and we don't have the resources to make an alternative that's completely compatabile. Oops, I guess we'll have to live with backwards interoperability at an Office 2003 level or port office to linux.

On a general note on Microsofts willingness to do this, They did port office to OSX. Not only is OSX a *nix core so most of the work is done and we know that they are open to licensing it out of the Windows environment. I'll point out that Microsoft office is a HUGE revenue for Microsoft, they make more money per license off of office than windows and would probably be interested in the market share.

I've used linux (non-exclusively) since I was 10 years old. I'm a fan. But right now I think it's at a critical point where it's tittering on the brink of main-stream. Is it breaking the open source ideals Unix was founded on to use it along with closed source software? Has Torvald gone through his entire life without owning a piece of proprietary software? Nobody (that I've ever heard) says that WINE of virtualization is corrupting Linux, Aside from the concept of freely distributed source code Linux was created to be a powerful and versitile operating system that could fit anybodies needs. Is it wrong to let somebody who doesn't want to expose their source provide tools for an open source environment?


I don't want my programs uninstalling on their own, I do want to be able to install packages from the beginning, but that said I do think that Yule and RPM need to be easier to manage and that all distros should have something comparable or better.

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1. Built-in Paravirtualization.
Not sure what you mean, but Fedora has builtin KVM virtualisation, and Ubuntu has VirtualBox available. Intalling a Virtual client is easy, and can be used on other machine's VMs once prepared.
Because Linux distros offer so much choice on performance and application mix, it is better to build your own for what you need, then copy and use that for your clients.

2. Applications on Demand.
As others have said, just too many applications to do this. Ubuntu has over 23,000 in its Synaptic repository, but the most popular have been listed in the easy to use Add/Remove menu item. This would seem a better way of doing what you want.

3. Microsoft Office
Do what everyone else does who needs Office - buy Crossover Office and load your own paid for copy.
Some pay for distros come with a version of Crossover pre-installed.

4. A Non-Windows-Looking-Acting-Emulating Window Manager
The Windows Window Manager is an implementation of the XEROX WIMP. Renditions have been available on workstations since it was invented back in 1974. Windows 95 onwards was based on Apple MAC which was based on the XEROX WIMP. It is Windows that looks and works like the others, not the other way round. Actually X versions offer more, like virtual desktops, zoom in virtual screens, multiple X sessions, nest to another user, etc.
Maybe you should look at GNOME with its menu bar along the top. Definitely not Windows like.

5. Interaction
Gee, what old Linux distro are you using? Or are you using a Virtual Machine that needs its virtual ports setting up correctly? Try installing a modern one natively, like Mandriva 2008, Fedora 9, or Ubuntu 8. They all auto mount and bring up a file manager or relevant program when devices like memory sticks, digital cameras, USB drives, music CDs, video DVDs, etc are plugged into a port.

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I have tried to move to OpenOffice. I think i's great office suite, but still many of MS office can't be found in it.

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Ok. To reply to each point...

  1. Most current distributions come with KVM built into the kernel.
  2. Why? There are a gazillion applications out there. Who decides which get your attention? Just look into your distribution's package list. You'll find what you want easily enough!
  3. You want 100% MS Office? Then use Office 365. It will run on most any Linux browser (Firefox, Chrome, Opera) without problems. Myself, I prefer LibreOffice.
  4. Not sure what you are getting at here. Write your own!
  5. BS! Linux provides a reasonable amount of feedback when plugging in new hardware.

And have a nice Christmas with all of your new Windows viruses!

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