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Stage 2 of The Linux Experience: Bodhi - page 2

The Distro You Always Wanted

  • November 23, 2010
  • By Emery Fletcher

Bodhi is different. It is essentially a GUI-based version of a Minimal Install, because it is preloaded with only Firefox, the LX terminal, and the Enlightenment file browser. This makes for an .iso image barely two-thirds the size of the Peppermints, but if you choose Synaptic from the drop-down menu, you have the full Ubuntu repository at your fingertips. Jeff Hoogland, the driving force behind Bodhi, says that he plans to make the Ubuntu Software Center available soon (remember, this is still a raw alpha, version 0.1.1).

My own impression is that Bodhi, by the time it reaches final release, could easily turn out to be a nearly ideal distro for someone who has come recently to Linux with no prior IT experience, but who has begun to show an interest in doing something more than simply using a ready-made OS. I know that route well, and when I made the switch I did it because Linux offered choice beyond my wildest expectations. I started with full-sized distros, exercising choice by tweaking this new item in and that old item out, and I soon began to see that it would actually be possible to create a distro that had everything I wanted and nothing I didn't. To do so I was willing to dig into the arcana of the terminal if that turned out to be absolutely necessary (as in the Minimal Install), but I would have been a lot happier for my first attempts to start out with the Lego approach that a GUI and a rich menu of software can offer.

I know this goes against the grain of the many people who insist that real control of a computer can only occur through the command line. They are right, there is no doubt. The GUI is an overlay, an automatic transmission rather than a stick shift. But there are a great many people currently paying a lot of money for operating systems and antimalware who would be thrilled to have it all free, if it weren't for the daunting prospect of having to Learn About Computing. Look, I am fiercely proud of any meager skills I've acquired at this, and my life is infinitely easier than when I was subject to the whims of Mr. Ballmer, but if I can see any way to make the process of learning and using Linux any easier for the next person, I want to make the most of it.

I think Canonical has the best shot at attracting new users with a ready-to-go, good-looking distro. I also think that for Stage 2 of The Linux Experience, exercising the freedom to choose and change, a distro like Bodhi will draw people more deeply into the experience of actually controlling their digital environment. Once there, they too will begin to see past the GUI and understand that it is the terminal that is the real route to control. That's the time they'll be ready to tackle Linux Stage 3. I might even get there myself, some day.

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