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Specialized distributions

Found this on the gtk list, under a thread on what parts of Linux might be 

> Preconfigured Specialized Distributions
> This probably can't be patented but the idea here is to have several highly
> desirable configurations. Examples Linux Workstation or servers, Linux
> as a bastion host, linux as a proxy server, linux for artists, linux, the
> internet box. These won't be ultimate distributions for the hacker, it will
> be specialized distributions for people that don't want to know how to 
> configure linux. This is like rpm or dpkg packaging, but taking it one
> step further, where you get an entire distribution of the OS as a single
> package. The main problem my friends have with linux is its configuration for
> what is really very common configurations.
> Linux Workstation - The ultimate wordprocessor box, with internet capabilities
> Linux Server - http, ftp, email, news, ping ident, ntime, etc ... with a svga
> config box letting you configure everything.
> Linux Proxy Server - Linux, a proxy server, and a config script.
> Linux for Artists - Linux, Gimp, Povray, other freeware for artists??
> Linux for Scientists - Linux, stats packages, finite element analysis, etc ...
> Linux for Hackers - Linux, all the development tools you would ever want?
> Once you have the main packages setup you add "upgrade packages". Add internet
> capabilities to the Hacker box. Add scientific package to Workstations.

This is something we need to seriously think about.  I would prefer if we 
could build a single CD image with the best of everything out there, neatly 
integrated, filling the entire CD, possibly two.  It wouldn't be a 
specialized distrib, it would be all of the possibilities.  During install, 
the user would choose what they want (kinda like the current RedHat setup).

The problem with this is that each user will likely want to install things 
slightly different from a specific selection.  This becomes an issue during 
the actual installation when the user has to decide what they want installed.
The common method under Windoze is to allow Typical, Compact, Custom, and 
possibly Maximum installs.  However, this is per product.

Windoze itself allows you to install/uninstall different 'core' components, 
which you select by category, with the option to select specific 
sub-components.  However, this doesn't work well when your installing not 
just OS components but an entire system.  When you have several hundred 
non-core packages, this is much more of a challenge.

I dunno whether the best way to do it is to define basic systems like 
suggested above, then let the user add the packages later, or let them add 
them during install, or what...  It will get a little tricky.  A lot depends 
on what kind of audience we aim for primarily.  If we specifically target 
only home users, it would be a little braindamaged to require them to choose 
between a home config, workstation, artist system, office box, server, 
bastion, etc... if 95% of our users won't need those extra ones.

I'd like to see some actual discussion here, so please write up your ideas 
and send them to the list.


      Erik Walthinsen - SEUL Project infrastructure/system architecture
       /  \           omega@sequent.com         Work: (503)578-5314
      |    | M E G A  omega@omegacs.net         Home: (503)281-4281
      _\  /_          psu12113@odin.cc.pdx.edu  Majoring in CS

       SEUL: Simple End-User Linux - creating a Linux distribution
     http://www.seul.org/            for the average home/office user