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Thread: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

  1. #1
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    Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    I love arch and the speed of it. I enjoy reading configuration files and editing them and all around screwing with my install. Yet, most people i know who use computers, see them as a necessary evil, one they have to deal with. I have over the course of the past 2 months, had to set up a few friends and relatives with Linux, either their windows was becoming a pain to manage, they kept using a computer naively and were installing virus and spyware, or they just received some old hardware and wanted to set up a computer for the first time since they were in school. That is awesome for Linux, and i enjoy showing people things and knowing i helped out. Yet, each time, i had to spend way to much time installing, icewm or openbox, then setting up their menu, setting wallpapers, and forgetting about pdf files etc and having to go back, because i wasn't confident that some of them could handle the CLI and things of that nature. So i want to remaster arch, with a WM, Applications, custom menu, folders already pre-fabbed. I just wanted to know if anyone else see's this not as a problem, but maybe an opportunity to fill a niche, that could really get some use. Here is what i have so far in the planning department.

    Window Manager - Openbox.
    - A light weight, pre configured, desktop, that is fast, but still resembles windows enough to be easy to use from a converted windows users perspective.

    I plan to create this look by having tint pre-installed with a config file already present, one set up for light backgrounds, others for dark, telling openbox to give me 15 pixels of free space at the top. This will allow the user a small transparent panel, while allowing them to right click to open the menu. So we take a 'different' look, and make it somewhat friendly with the pseudo panel.

    Menu - I would like an installed menu, that only contains single nested entries. (example)
    Openbox
    Sound - app1
    -app2
    Web -app1
    -app2
    Admin -app1
    -app2

    This allows for easy navigation, but also serves the purpose of making editing it with obmenu a breeze, a new user can easily see 'audio', drop that menu open, and add a new item to it. Its a minor thing, but could really make the menu easier to edit with obmenu for the newbie. I would also want to edit obmenus code, or maybe i can create a script that actually launches obmenu, that backs up the menu file before its edited, that way a newbie can revert back an old config

    I would like to program a feh frontend, one that just shows you all the images in a directory (~/.wall) and allows to to select an image, and a style (scaled, tiled etc) and hit apply and will launch a feh --bg-scaled(tiled) /path/to/image

    This will overcome the problem a newbie gets when he wants to change the background.

    The next thing iwanted to tackle was File Manager. To me, something like gentoo, or emelfm, works best. I might want to waste some resources here, for teh sake of the persons adjustment. First Dual pane isnt popular in windows. Second, i want to easily set up automounting of drives. So i was thinking of using Thunar as a the Filemanager, and have the volume plugin installed from the get go.

    Another problem i see is with music. I want this distro to be as light as possible, so i want a command line music player. I see mpd + ncmpc as a very useable lightweight option. The only problem i see is that mpd needs to be set up, so i need to make the mpd file know the name of the proper user and home folder. If this isnt possible to set up, i will have to install cplay from source, as it doesnt need set up.

    Web browsing will be with kazehakase, using the script from their wiki to delete history at launch. Mplayer +plugin will allow watching movies in the browser, VLC will handle movies outside of the browser.

    xarchive and xpdf will need to be set up already. As will mirage with images. pidgin will be the default IM software, with Xchat installed as well.
    P2P is a big deal with users now, so i would want to install nicotine, DC++ and frostwire. Frostwire has java problems, so the correct java will need to be preinstalled. I want the home directory to already be set up with the following folders.

    /.wall - for the feh frontend to look for the wallpapers in.
    /.torrents so rtorrent knows what folder to watch
    /music so mpd or cplay knows where to look for music at
    /images for images
    /documents for typed files
    /files for all other downloads

    Email will be handled with Sylpheed. File editing with be with the Open Office suite and Leafpad.Burning is the biggest problem, k3b is by far the best, yet its kde and slow. If i use Hal/Dbus and then use an alternative file manager, maybe i can get bashburn pre setup. Another front end i would like to be able to set up, would do nothing more than edit the gtkrc.mine file, it would be nice to just tell this program, where the icon set is installed, say /home/justin/.icons. selecting that path in the program will edit the line in the gtkrc file to match the one we just selected. That way we are still editing the file for configuration, but the users hand is held somewhat in that they have a GUI to do this task for them.

    Can anyone give me more ideas, and maybe want to help out? I know some basic coding, but i don't really know how to turn arch, into a pre configured distro that someone can install. I know their are some other distros out there with openbox etc, but the arch base allows for speed. It also allows this newb distro to be turned into a full fledged distro once that user is more comfortable in linux.

  2. #2
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    I like arch the way it is personally.

    Have a look at:
    http://archie.dotsrc.org/?q=node&fro...87b8973487ab87
    http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=14500

    You might learn something from the above, Archie has a openbox version from what I can tell.

  3. #3
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    I never had any real issues installing or using arch, the only big gripe I have against it is its package manager.
    HOME BUILT SYSTEM! http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/22804/ Please vote up!
    remember kiddies: sudo rm -rf= BAD!, if someone tells you to do this, please ignore them unless YOU WANT YOUR SYSTEM WIPED

  4. #4
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    the problem isnt mine, its the people i have to install it for. Arch itself is awesome, i love everything about it. but when my cousin gets a old old HP PC, and wants it set up, installing arch, then the DE, then the FM, then trying to show them how to change their background etc becomes a problem. Making everything pre set up, would be an awesome intro to linux. Because my cousins or family doesnt care that its windows, or its linux, or that their was even a choice, but when i get them set up, i want them to notice wow, this is fast, and simple, and o its linux, then maybe they will become interested enough to hit the CLI, install their own arch, and config it etc.

  5. #5
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    I would not give arch to a beginner though. More something like Mint.

  6. #6
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    Ubuntu based systems are slow. Also, arch is very newb friendly, you install and just pacman -Sy gnome you would have a full gnome desktop and it would run great and everything. Something like mint isnt free, and is bloated. I just want to take the awesome arch linux openbox setup, and put it to a cd that will install it to other computers. I found larch on the arch forums, and i think this will make doing this very easy.

    also mips i looked at archie and its dead the openbox version doesnt seem to have even got off the ground.

  7. #7
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    Quote Originally Posted by jseiser View Post
    Ubuntu based systems are slow. Also, arch is very newb friendly, you install and just pacman -Sy gnome you would have a full gnome desktop and it would run great and everything. Something like mint isnt free, and is bloated. I just want to take the awesome arch linux openbox setup, and put it to a cd that will install it to other computers. I found larch on the arch forums, and i think this will make doing this very easy.

    also mips i looked at archie and its dead the openbox version doesnt seem to have even got off the ground.
    Arch is not newbie friendly, it's not supposed to be and it will never be (without changing beyond recognition). If a person who uses Arch doesn't know anything about computers and is not willing to learn every system update becomes a potential disaster -- not because Arch is buggy, but because there might be (and there will be -- it's just a matter of time) an upstream change of some sort that the user is expected to inform him/herself about in order to be able to respond to intelligently to it by changing configs for example or whatever is necessary (vide last xorg update and synaptic touchpad issues for many users).

    The alternative, of course, is not to upgrade at all, but this will quickly introduce security issues, so it's not a good idea either.

    Arch is not a good distro choice for someone who wants the computer to just work. I understand that you like Arch, and I like Arch too, but if you're setting up linux based computers for others it's best to try and choose a distro that matches their skill level and passion for computers, IMO.
    Last edited by fwojciec; January 31st, 2008 at 09:07 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    Quote Originally Posted by jseiser View Post
    Ubuntu based systems are slow. Also, arch is very newb friendly, you install and just pacman -Sy gnome you would have a full gnome desktop and it would run great and everything. Something like mint isnt free, and is bloated. I just want to take the awesome arch linux openbox setup, and put it to a cd that will install it to other computers. I found larch on the arch forums, and i think this will make doing this very easy.

    also mips i looked at archie and its dead the openbox version doesnt seem to have even got off the ground.
    umm.. i could of swore mint was free, i have downloaded just about every iso they offer for no cost?

  9. #9
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    Quote Originally Posted by chris4585 View Post
    umm.. i could of swore mint was free, i have downloaded just about every iso they offer for no cost?
    Includes proprietary software/codecs. I guess by that count Ubuntu would have some issues as well. Of course, this isn't important to everyone.

  10. #10
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    Re: Remaster arch Linux into a Newbie Friendly Distro

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyRabbiera View Post
    I never had any real issues installing or using arch, the only big gripe I have against it is its package manager.
    Isn't the package manager supposed to be one of the highlights of Arch?

    Arch is excellent and sooo fast, but it can be a pain to install, especially for noobs. Jseiser - i think it's a great idea...... Archie could have been great, and there is already a live CD of Arch (March Linux) which may be worth looking at for some ideas or hints etc.
    Last edited by DJiNN; February 1st, 2008 at 03:15 AM.
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