Linux Desktops

Linux Desktops

From MissionTechWiki


Description of Linux Desktops

User Desktop GUI running on a Linux(R) distribution. These are almost always based on X windows, and use a window manager, such as Gnome, KDE or one of the not as popular window managers.

There are a number of Linux Distributions available that focus on providing a good user desktop. Almost all distribtions have some sort of desktop, but not all focus on this.

Whereas the use of Linux on servers, which don't need a user interface that is usable by the average user, is widespread, the use of Linux on desktop PCs is less widespread. It is somewhat of a holy grail, since a good reliable usable desktop will allow Linux to directly compete with Microsoft.

How are Linux Desktops used in Missions?

Many missions use Linux , and a few use Linux on desktops. The main one that I know of is OM USA which use a network bootable light workstation implementation. Lightsys manage that implementation.

A Linux Desktops For Mission Project has started in Australia.

Issues with Linux Desktops

The biggest issues are usability and support.

Most users are familiar with Microsoft Windows and want something similar. It needs to be easy to use and consistent. Users don't want to have to get into a shell to do stuff.

Support is crucial. This means that the distribution both needs to be easy to support, and that there are lots of people able to support it, all over the world. Missions are spread out everywhere, and missionaries don't want to be stuck in a remote place with a broken system that no one knows how to fix.

Another support issue is hardware support. Until most PC hardware suppliers release Linux drivers for their hardware, Linux will also have hardware compatability problems, because there will be lags in obtaining drivers for the latest versions. A good distribution will have to have an easy way to obtain such drivers and install them (without shell access).

At the moment there doesn't appear to be a Linux Desktop distribution with the critical mass necessary to compete. No one solution has won out yet, so there are lots.

Different implementations and solutions using Linux Desktops

OK, this will become a list of known Linux Desktop Distribution or relevant links

  • LWN Distributions list
  • NGO-in-a-box a collection of FOSS resources for NGOs
  • Debian-NP - a Morphix based distribution based on GNOME
  • User Guide to Using the Linux Desktop
  • [1] Article about the best free Linux desktop, essentially a review of SimplyMephis.
  • Lycoris Linux Desktop Distribution - THere is a community edition, but you have to pay for most of it. Debian based.
  • Xandros Again a Linux desktop distribution, with an open community edition and paid editions.
  • elx - paid for distribution. Redhat based.
  • Ark Linux a free desktop distribution - Mandrake based. Needs a Pentium with 64Mb RAM min. Stables version now out - 2005.1
  • Arch Linux another free desktop distribution, aparently a bit lighter on system requirements and uses pacman as distribution method? Based on Crux. It is designed for technical linux savy folk and requires i686!
  • Mephis an apparetly very good free Linux Distribution. There's always a catch - min 128Mb RAM. Wouldn't be good for older machines. Almost 700 Mb iso.
  • DamnSmallLinux A very small distribution.
  • DeLi Linux A free distribution aiming at older PCs, such as 486s and P1s. Sounds promising for some apps.
  • Julex Lightwieght Knoppix distributions for older computers, and aimed at getting files off old computer to a network.
  • Libranet a debian based distribution with GNOME, KDE & ICEwm. Includes OO.
  • Morphix is a modular GNU/Linux livecd-enabled distribution. They have a lite version use ICEWM and also a KDE version. You can customise.
    • Ubuntu is a Morphix variant with GNOME with a focus on languages. XUBUNTU is specifically designed for older system.
    • aquamorph is a Light Gui Morphix variant, but doesn't have OO....
  • VectorLinux SOHO is a Slackware based distribution with KDE (and icewm and Openoffice, Evoution etc, but kept fairly small. In fact they claim to run in 32MB RAM with 800 odd Mb disk ''Worth a second look._ I tried the standard (not SOHO) version of 4.3 and it needs lots of interaction at install time (and takes a while) and didn't get the video etc workinb on my laptop. (Old Toshiba). Not something for a novice to use.
  • SkoleLinux is a debian distribution that uses a power server and thin clints on the user PCs.
  • Tiny for i386s - I don't think it has a graphical interface.
  • CoBind Desktop based on Fedora uses YUM to update. Lightweight using XFce and Nautilus with Firefox, Thunderbird and Gaim, but AbiWord and Gnumeric, so not Open Office. Might be dead distro...
  • BeatrIX Linux Looks good too. Small, sleek , minimum apps. Runs in 64Mb. That's what I want - Works too!
  • Slax is another live cd distro that is supposed to run in 30Mb. It is based on Slackware.
  • VidaLinux based on Gentoo but compiled. OO, Evolution, Mozilla, Gnome. Sounds interesting. However min. requirement is a P4 1Ghz....
  • Puppy Linux A Small GUI linux that can run in a RAMdisk (128Mb). Woth looking at.
  • Xubuntu is the ubuntu project for resource constrained PCs. Definately worth a look.
  • A Christian version of Ubuntu is now available called Ichthux - includes Dansguardian web filtering, and Gnomesword bible software etc.

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