Almost all distributions of Linux suck. The good news, though, is that as more people get into Linux, they inevitably ask for things, and they ask for them in larger numbers. Nobody wants to work on a project that is only used by four people in the world, so large groups asking for stuff is a great motivator for developers, because they think they’ll end up being heroes for providing whatever it is the users are clamoring over this week. They probably don’t realize that they’ll really end up a martyr for the cause because when the product is unleashed on the world, they’ll get more bug reports than praise, but that’s another rant.
The reason most distributions of Linux suck is because they try to be everything to all people. That is a model doomed to failure. The last OS that did that was Windows, and even people that use Windows hate it. Windows belongs, if anywhere, on the desktop. Had they concentrated their efforts there and stayed put, they probably would’ve been just fine. End users are generally too brainless to take many of their complaints seriously, and indeed, many of the complaints of end users are a direct result of their being completely non-technical, a result Microsoft no doubt aimed for to some degree. No, it was when Microsoft tried to conquer the server market that things got dodgy, because now a huge critical mass of technical people with systems management backgrounds were exposed to the inherent flimsiness of Windows as a server platform. Now the complaints had the backing of geeks. This was no good.
So Linux distributions are doing similar things. One distribution, omnipurpose. I myself used to install a new distro on my desktop every 3 months or so, because eventually it would become evident that a distro had put more effort into parts of the system I had no interest in using on my desktop. I have to break down and confess now that I installed Linspire when Five-0 was released, and there has been no looking back.
Why? Because it’s just a desktop. It’s not trying to be anything but a desktop. Also, it’s done a pretty damn good job. Don’t try to run apache, and LDAP server, an FTP server, a database server and a DNS server on it. It’s not likely to get you far without some serious effort. But the system has worked flawlessly. I’m not a recording engineer, so I don’t need 18 different sound daemons on my system. Linspire uses one that I know of, and I’ve never had to worry about whether xmms would emit sound. Every audio application, including the desktop sounds, work flawlessly.
Truthfully, I don’t know a whole lot about my Linspire system. I was able to get around and see how it was generally configured, what services are running, what ports are opened, and then I closed by terminal session and haven’t looked at it. Actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to because my fiance is usually the one using it. Many times I’ve walked right past my office where the Linspire box lives, down the hall to the Mac in the music room because Natasha was already using the Linspire machine. Ah, the power of bookmarks!