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A Linux for everyone (and everything)! | Linux and Open Source | TechRepublic.com

August 17, 2010

Yesterday, I was on one of my many bike rides (those rides where I do most of my “what should I write about now” thinking) and I was doing the old word association game with myself. During this word association game I said “Windows” which lead to “MS Linux”. Of course we all remember the time when the rumors were running rampant that Microsoft was working on a version of Linux that would take the world by storm. It would have the stability, security, and reliability of Linux and all the applications of Windows! Wow, what a idea…that of course, amounted to nothing more than a poorly constructed rumor.

Of course that thought lead me to something altogether different — a thought that could have traction, could have meaning, could have serious implications.

What if a distribution of Linux was developed that included everything people needed to run standard Linux applications as well as everything they would need to run Windows applications…even games! Stick with me, it could work.

Here’s what would this magical distribution would need to include:

* Standard Linux distribution: Let’s say Ubuntu since it still reigns as the user-friendly king.
* Open Office: In case the user doesn’t want to pay for MS Office.
* The GIMP: (Or Inkskape or Blender) In case the user doesn’t want to pay for Photoshop.
* Cedega: So the user could play Windows-based games.
* CrossOver Linux: So the user could run MS Office.
* Browser plugins: So the user does NOT have to worry about installing any plug-ins themselves.
* Multimedia codecs: For all popular multimedia types.
* WINE: As a catch-all for other Windows apps.

It would, of course, be best to have everything installed and ready to go. It would be completely self-defeating if the user had to install any of the above (not including the Windows applications or games) to get them to work. What you would have would be the Swiss Army Knife of operating systems. This baby could do anything…and do it well.

Now, here’s the kicker…a distribution like this COULD (and should) come with a price. I’m not talking Windows 7 level of price structures…but a single-level price (say $49.99) that would include licenses for Cedega and CrossOver. That would cover the cost of the work as well as any licensing costs the distributor would have to pay out to the creators of the products.

I wouldn’t, however, want this product to forsake all things that make Linux what it is. I would want to see the desktop remain as it is (and not Windows-ified). The desktop would need to continue to reflect all that is unique (and right) about Linux. Of course the choice of desktop could be up to the user.

People would buy this. PC makers might even distribute it on new PCs. Who knows. But ultimately the consumer would be the big winner because they would be getting an operating system on their machine that is stable, secure, reliable, AND runs Windows applications. What more could a use need or want?
Something like this is certainly feasible. It wouldn’t take a Canonical much work at all to roll the above application set into a retail version of Ubuntu and start selling it. I would buy it…if only to support the cause. Would you?

Is a “Swiss Army Knife” Linux distribution a good idea?

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