Stage 2 of The Linux Experience: Bodhi
The Distro You Always Wanted
Canonical is attracting hordes of new Linux users with a ready-to-go, good-looking distro. But where does a noob go when they are no longer a noob? What is there for an IT pro with little Linux experience? How about the brand-new Bodhi Linux?
A while ago I noted that I have been exploring Lilliput, trying out a few of the lightweight distros that have been proliferating lately. A brand new one named Bodhi is currently being developed, and Susan Linton gave an alpha version of it a brief review on her OStatic blog under the title Just Another Ubuntu-based Distro or Something More. I gave Bodhi a try (just from the LiveCD so far), and I must say I definitely see it as Something More, a significantly new approach to providing a kit for making The Distro You Always Wanted.
Let's look at what's available now. There have been kit distros before: the most recent examples are the Peppermint/Peppermint Ice twins, which are designed to be routes to Cloud software. Though it is possible to fill out the local installation with as much software as you choose, these distros are optimized for Cloud operation: they are immediately useful in Cloud form, and any local software you add is in some sense redundant to the original purpose.
A totally different "kit" approach is available also: Ubuntu offers Minimal Install downloads of all Ubuntu versions, which are so minimal that they do not reach productive status until the text-based augmentation to a full version is complete. I tried this a while ago, when I was even more inexperienced than I am now, and although I finally arrived at a working distro of my very own with the software I wanted, I now count it more as a learning experience than a "keeper" distro. (I named it Mouse, since I knew I had actually succeeded the moment I saw the mouse work!)
By contrast, most full-size distros ship their version as an out-of-the-box productivity tool, with an initial configuration that many people will be able to use unaltered for most of their needs. These are still kits in the sense that they can be altered as you wish, but you'll be tweaking it more for personal than practical reasons.