Hey guys, I write a blog post regarding some of my criticisms of distributions, such as and , and how our priorities seem to be misplaced.

I know the recently adjusted their high priority projects list, and I can't help, after exploring these distributions, feel that they're still missing one very important project. A distribution that anyone can use.

@Lofenyy I would say that Windows isn't a distribution in which anyone can use. Nor Mac OS for that matter.

@m0dese7en That's an advantage for us. Lots of people run Windows because that's simply what their PC comes with. This gives us a much lower bar to clear. By providing accessibility options, translations, excellent documentation and other quality of life improvements, a libre distro could compete with proprietary options, including other Linux-based distributions.

@Lofenyy In my opinion, the biggest hurdles of a libre system for the average user is that it inherently excludes them from the walled gardens they want. Things with DRM and services that require it.

@m0dese7en That's a great point. I think we should take things one step at a time, one goal at a time. Easy libre system first, DRM hurdles later.

@Lofenyy I think that existing systems are easy enough. If it gets to easy it is too simple and not flexible enough to be useful as the user gets more experiences. Maybe we need an interfaces that operates at the user's level of expectation. Constantly gauging where the user is and adjusting appropriately.

@m0dese7en I don't think you read my blog post. I went through each distro and pointed out what made each one unfavourable as a grab n' go distro for the average soul. Libre distros can't even seem to compete with proprietary Linux systems despite being within the same domain. The only exception is Debian.

It has more to do with a lack of quality control than of technicality.

@Lofenyy I'm sorry about that. I'll look at your blog post. You're right about that though, and that's why I use Debian. I have witnessed average users get along really well with Mint though.

@Lofenyy I see where you're at with this situation. My experience with Debian has been really good. It has been my primary OS for at least five years now. Two in place upgrades and things have been smooth.

@Lofenyy you promised not to interject in the name of gnu/love? OMG

@Lofenyy Oh, I think I understand well how you feel.

"I’d like to remind you that I’m on the hunt for a distribution that can be installed on a family computer. One that can be easily maintained and managed by people who don’t want to have to worry about their computer, because that’s one more thing that they’d have to worry about in their already worrisome lives."

Yeah, that doesn't exist, in my experience. I'm always pleasantly surprised when a piece of libre software just works.


@luis_felipe Discovered this the hard way. I'd love to do something to change this, but I'm pressed on time. I was thinking about writing a custom installer for Parabola that would implement a bunch of what I consider to be missing peices while also requiring little maintenance from me, but I'm not sure that I could pull it off.

@Lofenyy About the list of recommended free software distributions, I remember very old comments about how hard it was for potential users to install GNU when the first step was to examine all these distributions themselves and pick one of them on their own.

It's sad that that's still the case.


@luis_felipe Oh yeah, I haven't even thought of that. On top, once they do try a few on their own, they're gunna feel sore and give up out of frustration. All the more reasons why we need a distro like this.

@Lofenyy At some point, in part because of that situation, which I thought and still think could be improved, I proposed adding an «Install GNU» button to which would lead potential users to a page to download one ready-to-try-and-install GNU Operating System, and leave the list of distros just as secondary options (also to invite contributors of those other distros to join in one GNU OS effort).

But that didn't go anywhere.


@luis_felipe That sounds like a good idea, but I can understand why it didn't take off. I think we need to build that distro, and then push ourselves to become the one distro. Others will hopefully take notice and see that we at least try to deliver a user friendly distro.

@Lofenyy I hope GNU Guix will fill the gaps in the future (in a few decades maybe).

Its community is already very nice, helpful and respectful, in my opinion.

But yeah, there are lots of issues to tackle (and maybe very limited resources)...


@luis_felipe I'm curious about Guix now. I know that they use Scheme to construct an OS layout and they emphasize reproducible builds, but I didn't hear anything about them making a user friendly distro. I wonder if a Guix based system would have any advantages over Parabola for this purpose?

@Lofenyy I haven't used Parabola, so I wouldn't know how they compare...

In my view, the Guix System is not currently to the level of the average Jane. But I think there is always the intention of making everything more user friendly in Guix (the command-line tools, the Guix System, the website, etc.). But, again, there may be lack of resources and also technical challenges.

The Guix System is my GNU operating system right now, though, and I think it can only improve.


@luis_felipe Also, you got me thinking about the logistics of our resources. I wonder if anyone has ever combined economic and/or game theory with the abstract problem of providing something like this. How do we manage developer time and mind share to maximise benefits while minimising costs? Not to mention that a lot of these individuals are volunteers.


> .. Trisquel 9. This was a fine decision, until it turned out that the package manager doesn’t work at all.

What do mean by package manager doesn't work?

I consider Trisquel 9 to be good grab and go distro. Did you contact the Trisquel forums?

About Debian

>  ‘apt-get autoremove’ to remove them.” 

This was really unfortunate. I wonder why it happened though. I have heard of it, personally never happened to me though.

@redstarfish The Debian thing is caused by removing a default program, like removing gedit and replacing it with pluma, if I recall correctly.

Upgrading from 8 to 9 was such a huge mess that I just never bothered. First the torrent files were completely missing, so I grabbed a cd image. I then went to download the gpg key, not there. I tried the checksums with no luck. I kept getting 404's.

@redstarfish I then installed it, only to find that I couldn't update, upgrade or install any packages. I sadly can't remember what the error was anymore. I reinstalled using a different installation media with the same results. After that, I gave up, moved on to other distros, which lead me to writing this post. Trisquel used to be the perfect distro for this purpose. I had a lot of faith in it. Some experiences just completely turn you off of something.

Part of the issue is that a lot of Linux software is made for developers by developers, often designed to be extensible and moddable rather than accessible. Unfortunately this is the best way to ensure a FOSS system will see continued development. GNOME has shown us what happens when computer geeks try to design something "the average person" will find usable.

Not sure what all that stuff about discrimination towards the end was about. Seemed off-topic. By all means don't do it though.

@swashberry There's no reason why software couldn't be made to be modular, accessible and translatable. Libre distros are already losing the race against proprietary Linux distros. My main criticism of the Libre distros is that they completely lack quality control to the point thst not even developers want to use them. I personally believe that a distro could be made to fit everyones needs. Debian comes close, but with a little bit of effort, we could do better.

@swashberry I also think you're giving too little credit to the Gnome project, who maintain a large variety of useful applications, GTK+ and the Gnome DE, to name only a few things. While some projects have proven to be more successful than others, it's not fair to judge them only on their DE. Whats more, on Debian, it's the most used desktop environment. On Arch, it's second only to KDE Plasma. If you don't want to use it, that's okay. A good distro offers many options.

Well my issues with Gnome could fill a whole different conversation, but I will give them some credit: It's ambitious of them to try and make Linux accessible to the kind of people who prefer Macs because they're "easier," which I presume is their target demo because that's what the modern Gnome DE makes me think of.

I mostly can't tolerate it because it doesn't coexist with other WMs; installing a Gnome program requires buckets of libraries so it can have its fancy borders and bling.

@swashberry 1000% fair, it's definitely not for me personally either. I've always preferred lxde or sway/i3.


"Right away, Trisquel can be removed as an option."

Why? I can't find an explanation about it is not an option.

@selea Under 'My Situation', I mentioned that upon upgrading from Trisquel 8 to 9, I found that the package manager wasn't working at all.

@Lofenyy i completely agree. I've started saying: "if it's not convenient for my mom to use, it's not good enough".
I apply this to open source and libre. I tried to get her to use libreoffice, and she had problems with it such as that it saved as .odt: a remarkably fixable problem that was inconvenient enough for her to return to MS Word. I won't push the matter, that's just annoying. Software has to be useful and easy use- the bar is set by trillion dollar companies.

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