Wish-list for Linux Distros

From Nick Jenkins
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A personal wish list of changes or improvements that I would like to see in future Linux distributions[edit]

  • A better way of finding help - e.g. trying to find help on ipfwadm or any related packages was nearly impossibly unless you already know the exact binary name (in this case it had to be verbatim: 'man ipfwadm-wrapper') - That's not a very friendly help system.
  • During installation, the distro's installer could refer to the web for the latest stable drivers for your hardware, and grab these if they are later than that on your distribution's media. For unsupported hardware, it could:
    1. Increment a counter somewhere for that bit of hardware. This has two benefits - it pressures hardware vendors by making them fully aware of how many customers are being frustrated trying to run that hardware on Linux. Secondly, it provides a registry so that anyone who wants to write an open-source driver can see what would benefit the greatest number of people.
    2. Periodically check to see if a suitable driver has become available - if so, download and install. Of course there are security concerns with the automated installation of new software, so updates would have to be cryptographically signed by a trusted source - most probably by your distro or hardware vendor - but we already this with security updates, and the benefits far outweigh the risks.
  • Official distribution certification for compliance against various standards: POSIX, OpenGL, & C2. It doesn't change much for the average user, but it eases adoption in corporations and governments.


  • Out-of-the-box "it just works" open-source 3D hardware-accelerated OpenGL for NVidia cards that gives comparable performance to a Windows system. --: Closed source exist; open source is a work in progress for Nouveau. Semi-done.

Previously granted wishes[edit]

  • Include XBlast (a way-cool open source game that in my opinion should be included with every Linux CD). Updated: This is included in debian.
  • A better auto-update feature for Linux. Machines permanently connected to the net could automatically pull down the latest critical bug fixes & security updates. Updated: Debian can be made to do this, as can the latest versions of Mandrake and Red Hat.
  • A finished version of Mozilla. Updated: Done - see FireFox 1.0 and above.
  • Proper ACLs (access control lists). Updated: These appear to be available with the 2.6 kernels.
  • One centralized place to enter FTP and HTTP proxy settings. Currently, every package has separate settings that must be entered into a preferences dialog for the application (Netscape, gnorpm), and worse a config file that has to be edited using a different syntax for each app (rpm, rpmfind, autorpm). This is madness - it's basic information that is required for any app which wishes to connect to FTP or web services outside of a firewall, and it should be specified in "netconf", & used by every app that requires this information. Mandrake 7.2 has got better, and will remember what you tell it during the installation, but this idea has not been taken to completeness yet. --: this is mostly fixed in Gnome 2.30, where there is a desktop-wide proxy settings, under: System -> Preferences -> Network Proxy.
  • A powerful email / PIM client that is comparable to Microsoft Outlook, and compatible with its PST data file. This is quite important for a large base of people. Evolution appears to be getting very close to this, but unfortunately there does not appear to be any way of directly importing Outlook's PST mail file into Evolution. For me at least this is a major part of the requirements, so that migration is practical. --: I consider than Evolution has reached this for my needs as of approx Evo 2.28.
  • Out-of-the-box multi-monitor display support, a la win2000. I have two video cards in my machine, and the windows 2000 out-of-the-box support for this is very cool, & I would love sto see Linux do this too. Last time I looked, it still required tweaking X-window configurations to enable this. --: This works in Ubuntu 10.10 out of the box, although the closed source drivers are required, and some tweaking of the X11 config file to get the right rotation was still needed. This is mostly done.
  • A GUI to see & alter the hardware configuration, like the win32 device manager. Mandrake is getting there with their tool, but I believe it is a read-only tool, cannot change details of modules or add modules in order to get hardware that is not configured correctly into a working state. --: This is done for read-only viewing of configuration using sysinfo ans similar tools.
  • Anything that means less has to be remembered during the installation (Mandrake 7.2 is very good in this regard) --: Modern installers are pretty good. Yes, they could be improved, but mostly fine.