Open Ballot: What's your ideal distribution look like?


Package managers, desktops, installers, multimedia codecs, proprietary driver support, start up and shutdown, and release models. All these things, and many more, separate the different distributions from one another. In this week's open ballot, we want to know if you were king for a day, what combination of components would you pluck out of which distributions to recombine into your perfect operating system?

Tell us what you think in the comments, and as ever, we'll discuss a selection in this week's podcast.

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Your comments

Dream Linux Distro

I will steal installer from Fedora Core, stability from Debian and code base from Gentoo.

Dream Linux Distro

- Rolling release like Arch
- Best support for packages by external entities (like Google and it's software (like Google Chrome)) like Fedora and Ubuntu (this is one of the main reasons why I choose these two as my main used distros)
- Fast like Gentoo / Slackware / Arch
- Stable but not by using old packages

- The installer doesn't matter, I only use it once, any GUI installer like Fedora, Ubuntu or openSUSE, would do.

My dream distro

Pacman, the rolling release model with up to date stuff and the general flexibility from Arch

Graphical installer, GUI tools and default applications from Ubuntu

Repository and stability from Debian

Design skills and overall roundness from Mint

File system structure from Gobo Linux


Honestly, for me, it would have to be any that come with an office suite that is identical to Microsoft office in where things are on the menus and tabs. Make things as close to or just like the look of Microsoft products, as much as I dislike Microsoft, and more will find it easier to transition to a Linux based system. MS is so used in colleges and business here in the US that people don't seem to want to switch. Lol, Linux and the metric system are two big reasons I wish I lived in Europe! :-)

Distro Mash-Up

For my dream distro It'd have to be a rolling release (SolusOS) with a "works with all hardware" philosophy (ubuntu) super fast and massively customizable interface (fluxbox) and all the newest and most up-to-date software (debian testing) and also stable (not debian-testing). I've never had a problem with the installation program of any of the distros I've used, so don't have a favorite there, but do love a menu that can be searched from a simple hit of the super key (mint).

Hostile Linux

I'd like a skinny Debian|Ubuntu derivative with a ui as productive as the recent unity but with no other installed by default applications (except coreutils maybe).

It will have a script similar to tasksel, but so fine tuned that each option appeals to a very specific type of user.


Employee: Libre Office, Ocular, CUPS, worms

Web developer: Firefox(with firebug), Netbeans|Aptana, LAMP stack

Mischief maker: Nmap, Wireshark, telnet

I figure you could probably do all this already but I'm sure it takes work and work is bad, bad bad bad! :)

Exactly Like Arch Linux

Exactly Like Arch Linux

Binary/Faster Gentoo

My ideal distribution is Gentoo. I like useflags and that I can customize it to my needs and get rid of stuff that I hate. So I would take a Gentoo, but create binary packages for all possible combination of useflags and rewrite package manager to be as fast as zypper is.

Installation is intuitive as it is, booting is quite ok (I have few minor stuff to complain regarding openrc, but if I compare it to systemd...) and the rest is up to me ;-)

Shut down button

My ideal distribution has a shut down button... Remember those times?

usable by your granny

Anything where the display just works when you plug it in. Why are humans still being asked to edit xorg.conf?

usable by your granny Part II

my granny like dancing and listing to radio.
my granny also likes cakes, plus some cakes come with iceing.

Something from the past

OpenSUSE10.3 was about as good as things got. Stable, flexible, customisable. I think it pretty much just worked. Oh and it came with the late great KDE3, of course.
Things have never been the same since, sniff!

Favorite Distro

Favorite distro?

SolusOS of course! Stable, current/up to date software, fast/low resource draw, works out of the box, etc., etc., etc. What more to say, what more to ask for?

SolusOS is what other distros should be, but, unfortunately, are not.

OS Template

I think a system that has pacman like package manager.

The speed of Arch, user friendliness of Ubuntu and only installs what you need like Arch and Slackware.

Has the true values of freedom like Debian and works out of the box.

PS Where is Ben?????

Ideal Ubuntu

A stable base of Ubuntu LTS with the Ubuntu software centre, remastersys, multimedia codecs, DVD support & Wine preinstalled. The closest thing to this is Zorin OS.

I'm looking at it...

It will look just like what I am running. Xubuntu/Ubuntu 12.04 (depending on my mood at login) both with heavily tweaked desktops, compiz and cairo dock.

Their mothers would not even recognize them, but isn't that the POINT of Linux?

Now that I think about it...

To further elucidate my point, EVERY Linux desktop I have, or have ever had has been perfect in my eyes. As I mentioned above, that is the entire point.

A distribution that does not believe in magic

Something like Slackware or Arch which does not try to autodetect and autoconfigure everything.
Unlike a system like Windows which only revolves around the operating system itself, most Linux distributions attempt to deliver a core, appropriate drivers, user interface and the applications on top. It is so much nicer when you have a system that provides a good starting point for a build with config files explaining common options and solutions - and leaves the rest to you. Then providing build scripts to put it together. That is why you get root.

Mirror, mirror...

You'll note from the other responses that there are so many choices users are making to have their dream linux distro become a [virtual] reality in this ballot. What's interesting is that many distros are quoted as having a superior feature, be it the package manager or user interface for example, but these are all shortlists of the major distros. Arch, Suse, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian and Gentoo all sound like capable distros, and would appear to be, for most, already near-ideal. However, the choices of applications, or the way they choose to have their systems constructed, seem to be more of a reflection of the user than a simple tick-box exercise to bolt together an OS. In a way, the ideal distribution seems to mirror the overall working pattern of the user. I'd describe myself as a home user with bolt-on multimedia creativity, so for me, Linux Mint KDE is a perfect fit. If you logged into my computer, you could probably tell a lot about me as a user, which, I dare say is likely the same for many others. So, if this doesn't entirely sound like a load of whimsical rubbish, our ideal distros are really a reflection of ourselves. We are the package managers of our lives.

In a separate, yet relevant point, this comment "Mirror, mirror..." is hereby licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0), which means Linux Insider and Slashdot are welcome to share my opinion, but please attribute any comments on their website to me, Sultan_of_Swing (care of

Basicaly Xubuntu...

Xubuntu has always been my favourite Linux distro. I like the Ubuntu/Debian base combined with XFCE. The Xubuntu team configures XFCE in a manner which I greatly enjoy. It works for me without any configuration.

Xubuntu IS my ideal distribution.

Perfect distro?

ArchBang but with a weekly rolling release and Fedora's anaconda installer.

My Perfect Distro

Use Portage from Gentoo as the package manager, and use the OpenRC boot process as well. Add AwesomeWM, VLC, Firefox, and Emacs, plus all of the compilers and interpreters a developer would need. Make sure it has Flash, every codec availible, and proprietary drivers in the repos, but not on enabled by default. Now configure it to look sleek and minimalistic like Crunchbang. That's all I need.


miska: You might want to check out Sabayon, it's a desktop distro based on Gentoo, but you can use all of the power of Gentoo's portage while still having a nice, just-works distro.

Three things I desire.

I desire a Gobo linux like File system structure. Why? It makes sense. How can I tell if a program will be in /bin /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin or /opt if I didn't notes about that program during install. I just discovered that blender was just put in to /opt for some reason. The standard Linux hierarchy is old and thus convoluted. For example why is root's home folder not in /home? Why do we need both /media and /mount? Considering that /usr originally had the job of /home I think it is time for a redesign.

The second thing I want is an integrated way to easily install source code. I know there are different scripting languages to do that for different distributions but compiling is already hard enough must you make me try to learn a new thing while I trying to learn to compile. Why can't I just do "Configure, Make, Make install"?

The three thing is documentation, something that any distribution could have. Yet I can't contribute that because I need it.

Linux distro

Rolling release,
Package: RPM,
DEs: GNOME for easy use, Blackbox for speed,
Old-fashioned curses installer,
All multimedia codecs (including libdvdcss) and proprietary drivers,
init for startup and shutdown,
Funny release names (Manky Monkey),
Something reliable.

Ideal distro?

Mint 11.

Or if it had to be up to date...

Debian based, access to Ubuntu repositories, easy to install OS, easy to install graphics drivers. KDE based distro that prioritises KDE over any other desktop so it actually feels the love that KDE does under the likes of SUSE.

It was...

It was Linux Mint 10 with Gnome but now SolusOS is King, it just works!

If it upgrades it's okay

Never mind the distribution ! I'll use anything surviving an upgrade. :-)

That's why I initially went for Mint Debian: Only rolling updates. Alas, UP4 broke my system all the same. But I'm keeping with LMDE anyway - because I'm sure this was the last time it broke. Ever. :-p

Slackplan 9 BSD

Few levels of ideal:
1. Slackware with statically compiled packages and open source drivers with good performance (OpenGL)
2. With BSD user land
3. With hardware accelerated OpenGL display system (not X, maybe Wayland will be ok?)
4. With real union mounts and real per process namespaces (like in Plan 9)
5. With display system from 3 but similar to /dev/draw from Plan 9
6. It all sums up to Plan 9 with proper drivers for most hardware with hardware accelerated OpenGL, dwm-like window managment, more applications

I'm using Gentoo for 6-7 years and plan to switch to Slackware. I can't stand compile times anymore and rolling release is not helping ether. So Arch is not an option.

Secure LiveCD

LiveCD functionality is highest on my wish-list, for so many reasons (e.g. secure data rescue, secure wipe and restores, secure data transfer, temporary/throwaway OS sessions). But pointless unless the LiveCD has secure default settings, to reduce some of the most fundamental vulnerabilities, and to block the relevant exploits. The bare minimum should include:
- auto-mounting anything (internal or external drives/devices) disabled, by default
- auto-run'ning anything (CD's, USBs, etc) disabled, by default
- file previews (esp. image files) disabled, by default
- does not utilise a hard drive swap partition (if available), by default
- browser Javascript, Flash, Java, etc disabled, by default
- etc etc

Am I the only one thinking about these things?

debian stable with backports and extra repositories added

I guess it would depend on the intended use, but I find debian stable with enabled backports/extra repositories to be the best for my everyday laptop. I love its stability, ability to customize to your heart's content, huge package library, and the massive community support.

I know adding the backports and extra repositories adds more instability than the vanilla stable release, but I have had only very few, minor issues. Every so often I have issues because of this (conflicting packages due to things like rapid iceweasel development for example, *cough cough*) but I have found it to be the best compromise between having a stable system and having relatively recent apps.

Linux Mint and Ubuntu go too far for me for a default install, throwing everything including the kitchen sink. Gentoo seems interesting but I remember seeing a quote somewhere stating "Gentoo: 98% of your time compiling to have 2% gains in efficiency." Then after hearing an actual Gentoo user describe what they do, it sounded something like that.

I prefer to start with something reasonably stripped down and go from there, downloading only the wireless drivers I need, etc. As long as there is quality documentation for my hardware, this is what I shoot for almost all the time.

I like what I have

I'm happy with PC Linux OS. I've been using PCLOS for about five years (my favorite was PCLOS 2007). I currently use PCLOS-LXDE. I like that PCLOS uses Synaptic pkg manager.


Nuff said...



Ultra stable on just about everything thrust at it...


Debian pretty much does it for me

Debian pretty much does the job for me. I do wish they had an option to include proprietary CODECS and graphics card drivers. Likewise an option to include all the .dev files for the packages installed.

Mint Debian

- rolling distro based on Debian Testing
- user-oriented devs (very responsive and communicative)
- DE choice: Cinnamon, MATE, XFCE, ...
- stable
- great, helpful community
- originator of Software Manager with user reviews
- huge package list in repos

Arch Linux

I have tried many Linux flavours over the years, and many of them have been good, or good enough, but four years ago I, unwittingly at the time, settled down with Arch and KDE. Getting to know and utilise a specific distro takes time, at least for me, and when you get (more) comfortable with its ins and outs, what more do you need? Arch is fast, has the latest software, is endlessly configurable and does not require any reinstallation as long as you make sure you have a backup. As I said, Linux offers many good distros - the weakness, and what we need to discuss, is applications. If only ten percent of the time and energy spent on configuring distros had gone into application development, Linux would have been a much tougher contender.

NEW user Experience

I am new to Linux and have only been listening to you guys for about a month now. I am Slowly trawling through your back catalog. Great Podcast by the way! I am Definitively tempted to sign up to the Linux format subscription. My ideal distro I believe is Ubuntu (Controversial!). I have tried mint and did not like it, i wanted something different something more intuitive than the standard desktop style and i believe i have found it in Unity. listening to your podcast i know everyone slags it off but as a new user to Linux i have been impressed that a free distro like Ubuntu has produced something that looks as cool as the mac and as more intuitive than MS. I have put Ubuntu on both my Net book and my desktop and have found both to be easy to use and productive with Unity making it so easy to cross platform. I would definitively recommend it to any Linux newbie. I cant wait for a tablet version!


I would use the gentoo base system, coupled with the gentoo package manager, and the gentoo handbook as an installer.

An Ubuntu compatible rolling release

I want the ease of use and wide compatibility of Linux Mint with a system that makes new software available when it's released, rather than having to wait to install the new version.

LMDE is a good idea in theory, but quite a bit of the software is actually older than in the Main Edition, which takes away one of the main reasons for wanting a rolling release.

And while I'm being demanding, I want a DE that basically looks and works like Cinnamon, but which includes an Enlightenment style right-click menu and widgets for the desktop like KDE or Windows.

Cairo-Dock + Compiz

Any distribution/DE that supports cairo-dock and compiz, so that the whole experience is based around these two modules. No desktop icons, no panels, just some desktop widgets (weather, clock/calendar, CPU frequency, etc) - currently screenlets and/or cairo-dock applets (not perfect or complete, but there's nothing else). Currently I'm using Linux Mint MATE as the basis, because:
- it offers the configurability of GTK-2 (for some reason can't change window decorations though)
- I can use emblems/symbols (very important to me to mark e.g. which movie files I've viewed or which pdfs I've read)
- Mint has got Ubuntu's repositories

By the way, shouldn't it be "What DOES your ideal distribution look like?". I'm a bit fussy about grammar :)

deb based, fat free KDE with a decent package management FE

Package manager: There isn't exactly an ideal package management front end for me. Most of the time I end up using aptitude on the command line with a bunch of grep statements. IMHO there is a lot of meta-data that is missing from package management front ends e.g. the download size per package, the install size per package, if selected to install then what packages are recommended/not-recommended as depends (show me the details!), ability to filter further/sort a resultset of packages that I am searching.

Desktops: very recently (within the last 2 weeks) I have been trying to get myself off Cinnamon because of the lack of features. After trying Xfce, Mate, Gnome 3 I went with KDE4. The issue was trying to get a fat-free version of the initial KDE desktop. I don't want all the fluff like KDE games, Kwrite, KCalc, etc. I don't want Nepomuk churning away endlessly in the background. I ended up installing kubuntu and stripping out all the cruft. Ideally I would start with a slim KDE (Dolphin, KDE System Settings, Gwenview) and a few other sensible defaults e.g. Firefox instead of Rekonq, Thuderbird instead of Kmail, Bangarang. Oh, and Veromix instead of Kmix. People can install office suites, graphics editors when they need them. Also, KDE would have a classic Launcher menu style, Dolphin would always be in details view with all of the columns enabled. Yast was good but KDE System settings is probably equal with it in quality. I haven't tried Mageia though.

Installers: I like Kubuntu and OpenSuse's live disc/installer combo. I liked how Kubuntu made it clear that you can select to have proprietary codecs and drivers if you want.

Release models: Yeah - a rolling release would be nice but also a supported release for LTS type needs e.g. rock solid servers and desktops.

Not much to ask eh! To me the two biggest deficiencies I faced when picking a new distro were the limited features of the package management front end and all the fattiness of many KDE distro's which you then have to remove later.

Ubuntu all the way

I like using Ubuntu, but release cycle should be 1 year rather than six months. And should play all media files out of box.

A mash of distros

ZFS Filesystem
Debian Repository
Pacman as a package manager
MATE Desktop
Fedora's installer
Codecs and proprietry drivers installed

The time of beauty distros is over

I has have 2 beautiful distros: mandriva 2010.2 in flash look and Ultimate Edition 2.7 in my own look. Both in GNOME version. Since kernel 3.0.0 and "GNOME" 3 nothing more! This pseudo "GNOME" is an attack of user's creativity and a raping of eyes!...

Some that exist, one that doesn't

KDE for the desktop, apt for the package management, Debian
stability, and the $%#%^&* sound working properly for once. IS that too much to ask?

Slacky XFCE

So far loving slacko Puppy on a laptop, low resource usage with slickpet loading up Libre and other useful apps. File management is not perfect though loads better than Gnome. Mint won't do many things, I've tried and buntu's rolling releases piss me off when merely trying to add extensions. Think I'm on fedora right now, got that gnome lurking up on the tool bar as I thought this was an XFCE version not a 686 with PAE that makes no sense on this hardware. Tried Salix too but was a little too heavy for my needs, perhaps Chrome OS or Andriod 4 on my XP convertible tablet for stylus fun; so long as it runs decent productivity suites and has extended run times I'm down with the big "G"...

The perfect linux setup for me

I think the perfect Linux setup for me would consist of
the Xfce desktop. With a new cleaner more professional
front end for Pulse Audio with an on/off switch. It would
have all the hidden files in the home directory in
one hidden directory less accessible to the user similar to the way OSX does it with /.hidden. It would have all the
proper codecs for multimedia support already available to the user. I like that Xfce does not need 3D graphics to work
properly, but having Xfce use a handful of 3d effects, if the
system has 3D graphics, that work within its own compositing
settings would be cool. Maybe a wrapper for the Windows
version of Flashplayer or a great OS alternative that works
just as well and can be community maintained. It would use
the Ubuntu software center for new packages or perhaps one
community based package center that would have compliance
standards that would allow all Linux distros to use
similar packages and a slower release cycle and great
long term support.

have factory reset button

ubuntu 12.04 should have factory reset button so that all programming should have restore to original

linux should starting development finished and good ustr interface software .

new approach for design should be taken

Arch Slacktoo

My ideal distro would be a fast rolling release distro on the lines of Arch or Gentoo, but with a wide package base like Debian. The only way that that could really be done is with a Slack-like reliance on source, raw vanilla source. A new package manner along the lines of portage, in the way that it pulls code, but with the ease of use of pacman would be needed for retrieving source. Source could be pulled directly from the original developers or a hyper up to date repository could be implemented. All of the software, the kernel included, would be free in accordance with the FSF.

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