Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yet Another Linux Distro?

Yep! :)
Why you ask? Well let me tell you...

I love the command line because of it's flexibility, it's quickness and it's productivity. It's liberating. You can do nearly anything in the CLI that can be done in the GUI, yet many people are intimated with the command line and therefore shy away from it. Hence, my idea to produce a user-noob-friendly CLI Linux Desktop Distro. I want to introduce people to the command line in a warm way. I want people who are new to the command line to be able to jump into a CLI environment and be able to immediately do what they do everyday on a computer with little anxiety and a minimal learning curve.

I also want to educate people that you can be productive and do things on your computer in the Command Line Interface. Things that most people would think was impossible in the CLI. You can view, edit, organize and manipulate your pictures. You can watch and edit video. You can burn CD's and listen to music, browse the internet and watch youtube videos, and it's not that hard. You don't have to memorize thousands of awkward long commands, because I'll be holding your hand. Then when you feel comfortable to venture out on your own, their are resources and examples built-in which will teach you, at your own pace, how to customize or adapt your system to your specialized needs.

Now, I'll admit that not everything on the command line is as easy as the GUI. Word Processing is one good example of this. I recommend using Latex to work around this issue since there is no known true CLI word processors. I've created some Latex templates to make things easier, but still... there is a slight learning curve. Yet, I feel with just one or two minutes of simple instruction and using a template, anyone can create a beautiful looking and professional document in no time.

Am I reinventing the wheel? No. There is no CLI only Desktop distro. Most distros with a CLI environment are for servers or specialized flavors like tomsrtbt. I propose that if a user wants to feel comfortable on the command line he or she should do so by doing normal everyday things, not by learning to configuring sendmail or editing config files.

Now to answer the questions addressed. Why must I create a new Linux distro to achieve the goals I've just outlined? Why don't I just make a Ubuntu Package that includes my tutorials and application menu? The answer is because the GUI is very tempting. I want to isolate the user in the CLI environment as much as possible. If a user was to use my tutorials or application in a terminal emulator like gnome-terminal or Konsole and they encountered a small bump in trying to perform a function, it's too easy to say, " Screw it! I'm just going to open up OOo Writer to type my paper". If the user is engulfed in the environment, then it's a little tougher to do that. Granted, if they are running the LiveCD all they need to do is reboot, also since SimpleCLI Desktop will be based on Ubuntu-server they can easily just "apt-get install ubuntu-desktop" to get X up and running. Still, it takes just that much more effort to escape the CLI environment if its the only environment running. In addition, when the user finally does get over that little bump, they are a better person for it and they've learned and are less likely to forget what they've learned.

It's just like trying to learn a foreign language. The best way is to be immersed in the environment. Surround yourself with others that speak the language you are trying to learn and try to communicate as you normally would. Use resources to get by and eventually you'll feel more comfortable with the language. This is the premise of SimpleCLI Desktop.


Trobin said...

like your blog. Just thought I'd point out that there is a Cli only version of Puppy Linux.

David said...

I'm guessing that nothing was released, such a shame. I do know that www.vinuxprojectorg did release a command line version based on Debian with many enhancements including speakup and espeak so that the console can speak and drive an external brailler for the blind. But this system works lightning fast for the command line desktop user. surfraw was included in the later cli versions which a great add on.

I wished you had followed through on something like this. Command Line is getting more and more difficult to find - or you can download a server edition only to find out there is no sound.