Open Ballot: what would you change about Linux?


We're gearing up to record a new episode of our great Linux podcast, and you - yes, you! - get to have a say. The question we're asking is this: if you had the resources, what single thing would you change? Would you merge KDE and Gnome? Would you introduce a new package manager? (eek!) Would you find all mentions of "Linux" and replace it with GNU/Linux?

If you'd like your views read out on our podcast, please post your answer below. Make sure you include a name, and please avoid running off a large list - pick one thing and one thing only!

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Your comments

I'll need some rope, duct tape and Mike Saunders greatest hits

If I could change just one thing it would be to do away with all the petty bickering and in-fighting. For a community who values choice so highly we really do turn into a bunch of whiny gits when people do things a different way.

Remember those monkeys at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, that's kind of what the mono debate feels like right now.

One Thing

I would force all mainstream Linux distributions to use a GUI.

What would I change?

I just finished installing Ubuntu 10.04 on a new laptop computer I bought for my daughter who is starting high school shortly. I have the machine working like a charm now, but every obstacle which I was forced with was to do not with Linux, but with the willingness of hardware and software companies to recognize it, without me having to delve into the deep, dark, recesses of the Internet to find the right driver, or how someone else solved the problem.

I hear a lot of talk within the Linux community about lack-lustre hardware support for Wifi, WebCams, sound/audio, video, etc. but what isn't happening is an evangelism campaign that will send a clear message to the hardware & software world that Linux is a market that they need to think seriously about. If you could have seen my daughter's face when we gave her the new laptop, it was overjoyed. But if you could then see her face as I struggled to get it to work, it was despair. Luckily she went to bed, and a few hours later I had it 'magically' working. But most households don't have a Dad who is a software engineer around.

The fact is that putting Linux on a laptop that was going to be used in the wide open for her was absolutely the right thing to do. What she uses it for (mainly homework, listening to music, watching the odd video, surfing Facebook, etc.) and her exposure to Wifi at coffee shops, etc. would mean that she would have been pwned within a few days if I had left the default Windows OS on this machine. But I would have had a happy daughter, using her computer out of the box if I did. It takes a lot of wisdom to realize that the 'low hanging fruit' of Windows is the long-term disaster no one wants. If we could just get this message to the hardware & software manufacturers to be a bit more serious about Linux support out of the box, then we might just have a winner on our hands here.

I thought there was a glimmer of hope with this when Dell started to release their netbooks with Linux on them, but since they seemed to have backed away from that position, its become increasingly harder to 'do the right thing' and put Linux on a new computer.

Our problem is that the Linux community think that all problems are solved with engineering. No. The biggest problem that faces Linux and the #1 thing that I would change is to evangelize it into the big hardware manufacturers as the alternative OS to offer to customers. If Dell gave you the choose when you were 'checking out' of their web purchase process, to have Linux OR Windows on it, then it would force all hardware manufacturers to take notice of Linux. That's all it takes. Not to bury the option deep in the bowels of their website so no-one even knows Linux is an option.

We need a charismatic member of the community who isn't a geek and doesn't attempt to evangelize the geeks, to get the general public aware of Linux, and use this leverage to influence the hardware manufacturers to offer it as an option on their gear.


Stop tribalism and infighting

All the craziness about my distro is better than yours and attacking other distros probably makes us weaker than we really are.


If Linux is to become a real alternative for Windows, there has to be a way to motivate game manufacturers to produce Linux versions of their products. I think this alone would immensely increase Linux's popularity.
How to do it? That's a million dollar question.

the one thing

Get KDE and Gnome desktops melded into one knome or whatever so the wars can end and we con concentrate on Billy III thanks


I would pass a law making "sensible defaults" sensible. Every reduction in features or customisation should come with an "advanced" tab.

I'd make Wine work with

I'd make Wine work with Source Games out of the box.

Oh, and if that's too far fetches, my second choice would be to stop the bickering about Mono, so that I can use Banshee without people complaining about licensing issues.

Change One thing

This is small & really not important but you asked!! So I would like to be able to rename a file by when a file/folder is highlighted clicking once and moving the mouse off of the file. I liked this feature in M$ Winblows. I have been on Linux full time since 2004, and that is the ONLY thing i miss.
And yes I do use Mandriva (an episode or 2 ago you commented if anyone outside of France uses it)

there's no point

there's no point in ending tribalism, maybe just flaming. Part of what makes the ecosystem of Linux as such a good option is the existence of options, the freedom to choose. If Gnome and KDE fuse together, all we are going to get is few options (the same applies to every other confronting options here... emacs/vi, distro1/distro2/.../distroN, myprogrammiglanguage/yourprogramminglanguage/theirprogramminglanguage, etc...)

So, if I could change ONE thing not just about Linux, but about everything in the FLOSS world, it would be to end the flaming...

Move to more lightweight computing

I would make LXDE the default desktop environment. LXDE remains a favored, speedy alternative to Xfce and GNOME for lightweight functioning. I've run such on my PowerPC-based box to good effect. Granted, a PowerPC may not be a kerosene-power cheese grater like ArchLinux jokingly references...but LXDE keeps it in contention with more current x86 machines.

I am a normal Linux user, so

I am a normal Linux user, so i don't know much about kernels, compilations, packages, etc (just a little :) ) I just want a system that works out-the-box. I've tried a lot of distributions Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, Opensuse. But any can give this sensation of stability. For example, Ubuntu with your 6 months cycle give us a feel that the past releases are very old and all the people must to change to the newest, so that implies backup the system, install all the apps, remake all the personal configurations, etc, etc..

Right now i am with opensuse, because it gives me that sensation (release of 8 months) but i always like the simplicity of Ubuntu/Mint.

It's just my two coins, as you all said ;)

Sorry for mi English, i am a Spanish native speaker(from Costa Rica).

games :)

i would love if Linux was supported by new games, games developer should make a Linux release as well...they release in PC, PS, why not Linux?

3 Things I'd Change

I'd change the kernel so that anyone can easily make modules for better support, perhaps put them in XML so we wouldn't have to compile them all the bloody time!

Secondly, I'd only support a package format everybody is happy with, so I might do something like add the best bits from DEB and RPM, make it importantly backwards compatible with both, and make the extension LINUX or LPKG or something generic. Then we'd all be happy!

Finally, I'd make sure whatever distro people are using that it supports the latest hardware out of the box. For me, freedom is important, but not as important as having my hardware just work!

P.S. Get rid of the sodding menus, they get on my nut!


Linux currently lacks functioning sleep/hibernate almost all the time; I would get this fixed, as it is especially frustrating on laptops, which are increasingly being used more than desktops

I hate this question

I hate this kind of question. What would I change about Linux? Nothing.

Linux is the kernel and the core operating environment. Linux is not KDE, LXDE, Gnome or other such. I would change how people refer to Linux as being a distribution of some sort.

When someone says "I don't like this..." and they have communication, programming, or organizational skills (or some combination) you end up with a distribution or a desktop environment or a small application.

KDE is NOT Linux. Amarok is NOT Linux. Linux is NOT the GUI. Linux is NOT the audio player. Linux IS the kernel and the command line utilities to function as an operating system.

KDE IS a GUI. Gnome IS a GUI. Amarok is a GUI. All a GUI is is a graphical way of doing something that could be done via command line, but would be easier if one could point and click.

Stop talking about the Linux world as if everyone's ideas have to meld.

The only thing I would change is to find a method of replacing Linus. Should he get hit by a bus one day, who decides what features go into the kernel.

Silly me... I can already add whatever I want to the kernel without Linus' blessing... I just cannot have it in the "official" version. That is the only thing that scares me... a Linux environment made of wildly different "official" kernels. Right now, you have the kernel binary as it comes from Red Hat, Ubuntu, or some other distribution. But, the source of the binary is from Linus.

works out of the box

Installing codecs, xtightvncviewer, java, and anything I have missed during the system setup phase. New users don't want to be system admins, they just want a system to work after they have installed it. People will just go back what is comfortable for them if they feel that they need to fix things when the OS comes up. I almost did but curiosity got the better of me and I am now something of a zealot. I left my Linux laptop at home one day and had to use a Windows box for the day. It served to remind me how good Linux is.

one final change

I'd remove Michael the 4:34 flamer see above. From contact with normal people. sighhhhhhhhhhhhhh

If I Were The Computer God

Sorry, I wouldn't change a single thing about GNU+Linux (there, I said it! GNU!! GNU!!! GNU!!!!) It is what it is, an alternate kernel/OS to WiNdOwS and the FruitOS.

The Linux community, on the other hand... well....

Some, but not all, people need to accept that Linux is not MoftOS (WiNdOWs), it's not a replacement for MoftOS, it's just another OS. While there are many native-Linux games, for example, they are not the same games that are available for MoftOS, they're different games. It seems to me that the Linux users that whine about MoftOS games not being available for Linux need to accept the fact that Linux is not MoftOS.

Also, RMS is a bit of a pain. But he is a necessary pain. RMS's extreme position necessarily creates some anti-RMS people in the Linux community and it is the existence of these two opposing forces that have given the Linux community a greater sense of life than it would have otherwise have had. So, lay off of RMS, he is a bit weird, but he's our weirdo!!

Standardize under-the-hood components

I would standardize all under-the-hood components. Sound system, config file locations, binary locations, user preferences, system preferences, hardware configuration, everything would be stored in consistent locations, in consistent formats, and accessible though system-standard APIs and commands.

This level of standardization is what's making Android and iOS such interesting platforms of development. PCs and laptops had mics, cameras, and buttons long before these smartphone platforms came out, but they weren't used to their full potential because the ways to use them aren't clearly defined. The consistency of Android and iOS development help greatly in getting developers up and running with interesting projects.

I unify the file

I unify the file organizations. I unify the WMs. We need standants, it's the only way which Linux's year comes.

Standardize package format.

Standardize package format. Many things like Arch's AUR instead of PPA's, which are really stupid. Standardize theming more. Require fewer daemons. Stop having a getty on every terminal. Have a kill switch that works no matter that game you're playing; I mean a hotkey for xkill that works no matter who has keyboard control, just like ctrl-alt-bksp, to restart the entire xserver. Make a good engine to theme gtk apps in kde. Make batteries last longer - mine does half what it did with windows - Half! make more things about programs configurable. Fix the man/info mess. Make more programs use more optional dependencies, instead of forced dependencies. Stop having things like gvfs depend on a bloody keyring. Fix apps that want hal, after it's deprecated. Actually, kill gvfs, too. Ruthlessly kill every mention of xorg.conf; really just update all documentation. Have linux information consolidated into a wiki, instead of spread out on countless blogs, sites, and everything else.
Stop duplicating so much effort in games. Give programmers much easier ways of communicating with their users, to see if they like new changes. Get programmers to admit when the abandon software, and get it marked as so EVERYWHERE! Stop making so many programming languages with poor performance. I'd get Linus to release (form a group to release?) THE LinuxOS, which contained to best of open-source software and aimed to have more functionality then both windows, mac, and all other OSs while tucking most of what wasn't needed away from the casual user. Stop saying automation is bad; it is almost always good - exposing the inner workings of that automation is even better, and make sure there's documentation to let people change what they want in it. Have programmers concentrate more on importing-exporting stuff for interoperability. Stop leaving ancient packages which don't work in repos. Distribute a standard script which tells people if their hardware can use proprietary drivers, what is available as open-source competition, and what sort of performance loss it will give. Force users to learn this and still accept the proprietary software - but don't make the jump through any hoops install it, like adding a repository. Kill 6-month release cycles; make it all rolling release.

I think that's about all I can think of right now...

Merge the top developers

I would like the best developers from Google, Redhat, IBM, Canonical and Novell to work together on a project. Not the way they work for kernel. But work together for a great project. A project that can do something great for mankind. :)

stop gratuitous diversity

I don't know how to motivate them, but the gurus behind the many Linux distros need to get their acts together and stop making systems that are "almost" compatible with each-other. The main thing is that apps should be universally installable using a single package format, and should work without extra tweaking. Stopping the proliferation of window managers would also help. The best thing about Ubuntu is that it is becoming a de facto standard. Also, source-level compatibility should imply binary compatibility. At present, you must build binaries for each distro and release (older binaries do generally work on newer distro releases).

I would destroy microsoft

I would destroy microsoft and apple (keep google) and advertise Linux.

gnome sorting

I would like to change way that gnome sorts name and directories, I have windows partition with directories like !work !prv etc... (Using such name since Amiga), but gnome instead of sorting those alphabetically, like: !prv,!work,a,b,c,d, will do a,b,c,!p,w,!w, Looks like ! is not existing.
It's the same once you are on the network with Windows users, then can create share folder like ==test==, with is easy to spot, first on the list, but not for me, have go browse through the list, somewhere after letter t.

more stability and less bugs

I'd like if the developers thought a bit more about stabilizing their code and fixing bugs instead of just extending functionality. Having tons of new features is nice, but when the program is unstable or has many serious bugs, it hugely diminishes the benefit of all the new features.

Come to think of it, maybe KISS methodology (keep it simple, stupid!) is what many projects could benefit from. Many are slowly becoming large, bloated, both from technological perspective (large codebase) and user perspective (complex UI, too many features). Having lots of features is not always a good thing. It makes the program more difficult to use, it makes it bigger and less maintainable, it introduces bugs, etc. Simple is not the opposite of powerful.

It also seems to me that some programs could benefit from focusing a bit more on users' workflow, or on what the user needs to be efficient, to do the job for which the program is made well, fast and comfortably.


I would remove grub forever, as it seems to be the only thing really holding it back. No one would change from Windows to Linux if they thought it was a gamble each time they turned their computer on. I installed Linux Mint on a portable hard drive, and it has been going 178 days. When I installed it, I was wondering if grub would work, and this is the longest a Linux distro has ever lasted for me without grub messing up. Linux will not break through into the Windows and OS X mainstream world if you need to know how to use a command line to fix everyday problems (including grub) which requires some computing knowledge, which the average parent, office worker, facebooker or pupil knows very little about and will be thinking 'oh dear, my computers messed up, I've lost all my documents'


I would make it closed source and only accessible by REAL EXCELENT developers.And would make it freeware.

Pulse Audio/ HDMI

The way Linux handles sound is pure crap. Outputting sound/video through HDMI suck's even more.

Multimedia handling is super important and Linux really suck's at that.

Stop the infighting

Learn to work together without the pettiness. If we are an open source community - come together as a community and learn to get along. I really find the anti-social immaturity way too much.

It's one thing to read, quite another to try to communicate with a civil tone to a someone who will not listen. Try a bit of humor, maybe lighten up a bit and see that there is more to the world than our own navels?

Have a nice day. Don't worry, be happy.


The name is terrible.

When I first heard the name a few years ago I thought: OMG! Sounds Hard, I'm not even going to go near it.
A year later and I got Ubuntu on a PCWorld disc and decided to try it out and I've used Linux or GNU/Linux ever since.
It would really help if some creative person could think up a totally awesome name and it might help people get into it...

One simple change

I'm not agree with changes on drivers for any unknown hardware, because that doesn't concern any Linux distro. The changes have to be made by their developers and creators, not the OS itself.

Linux is great overall, but there's one change that I would make on a certain Linux distro(Ubuntu).

I think they have to make distributions as MS do on Win-frigin'-dows, I mean, they're not launching a new version every 6 months, the concentrate on one version only and then they release it. I mean, when Canonical is developing Ubuntu x.04, they also develop x.10... in parallel, which for me is not a good practice.

What I would change about Linux

What I would change is to make it more popular, although how to do this is the million dollar question!

Would be nice to have good USB support

Only thing I would like is better USB support from the hardware manufacturers, as this is a big issue with some computers or combinations of hardware and firmware. It is annoying in that I currently have USB2.0, but the bugs in the USB software crash it occasionally, and I currently am running at USB1.1 speeds, and whilst rebooting will fix it temporarily ( how Windoze though that is, everything works better after BRST for some reason) it will come back after some random time and kill USB removeable media support until I restart hal whereupon it partially resolves the commonly reported bug. Better support from manufacturers than " it works in Windows so who wants more" would be nice.

On the plus side my new Lenovo laptop now runs Ubuntu 10.4 perfectly, even the camera works ( taped over now of course)and the wireless runs without issues. The Win7 partition it came with is still there, to provide one thing only - tax time support, as online filing only really works under Windoze and Acrobat GenuWine ( Bloody Java craplets, not aything else, and not worth the time to resolve) so I will be booted into MS twice a year ;( . Nice thing is that I am using the otherwise wasted NTFS partition as a convenient subdirectory to $home as otherwise it is unused space, and a laptop drive is precious real estate. Sad to say it is still classed as a sold copy to MS.

New PC

What I would change about Linux is to have it installed on new PCs. On the last PC I bought, the first thing I did was to wipe Windows off and install Linux. We are told Free Market Capitalism gives choice... it doesn't. Name me one big High Street Retailer where I can buy a desktop PC with Linux rather than Windows on it. I am basically forced to pay for an Operating System that I will never use. The monopolies and mergers commission, if it actually did it's job, would order that people are given a choice of operating system when they buy a new PC. Consumers should also get a reduction if they choose Linux, since it is free.

Slow Down Release Cycles

Slow down the frequency of distro release cycles to allow devs a chance to refine each release a little more.

As the young Bill Gates realised . . .

As the young Bill Gates realised, it's not so much the OS as the software that runs on it that determines an operating system's popularity. And the thing is that the industry leading software - MS Office and various Adobe products, for instance - don't run on Linux. Change that, or change what the leading software is, by pushing development of OOo, Quanta+, etc so that they become the leading software and Linux would become the leading OS. And that would be a good thing: because it's open source and because all sorts of organisations, governments, etc would be chipping in, we would end up with better, cheaper computing - perhaps even lower taxes (since who knows how much the public sector spends on propriety software?). In short, I'm pretty happy with Linux as it is; I want improvements in the software that runs on it.


All these are great things that could and would have an impact but I believe that I would change only one thing and that is that this is an Operating System for Nerds. So many are still afraid of the OS simply because they perceive that they are not able to comprehend a different system that is Gui based...

An Ubuntu Penguin Fanboy from North Carolina

Sad but true

<<quote>> Angie (not verified) - August 3, 2010 @ 8:56pm
Consumers should also get a reduction if they choose Linux, since it is free.<<quote>>

Ironically, consumers would probably be charged more, not less, because it would be a non-standard install and non-standard items tend to incur an extra charge. The High Street retailers would never get enough customers wanting Linux pre-installed to make it worth their while having machines already set up with that o.s. Why did they stop selling netbooks with Linux? Because there wasn't enough demand. People wanted Windows.

Full Media Advertising

I think GNU/Linux _IS_ ready for the mainstream NOW. I'd love to see a full scale media campaign involving advertising in Non computer Magazines, TV, Radio, Movies, Billboards etc. Perhaps the tone of these could be similar to :-

"There is a different way you know. Linux -virus free, cost free and ready to go. Why not try it yourself?"

This could be backed up by a website with enough information for a Windows user to get started. Are you listening, Canonical?

Higher levels of customization and automation

For example, I've not seen it yet, but I think it would be cool if from the automatic hardware detection, it would build a lean distro based on what exactly your system has. Think of all the kernel modules that you never use for example but are often there on a default install. It would be interesting if there was a huge database of configurations that would automatically select the "best" for a specific setup.

get rid of it

and replace it with MikeOS. Or a kernel that just runs 'cowsay', whichever is the more useful

All I want....

All I want is a system that just works and that anybody, regardless of their Geek status can use. We just need to run the applications we use in our daily lives without hassle or interference from the operating system.

I've managed to get a lady of over 80 running Linux Mint 9, so therefore this distribution comes close. And so, more of the same please.

Whats holding me back...

Convince Adobe to release native versions of photoshop/Illustrator etc.

It's coming along nicely keep at it.

I don't want to change anything just take the same route we always have. Developers will always work on what interests them and not necessarily what interests me.
I do have a couple of pet hate's though.
1. I want to use Linux not Windows Mk2.
2. Silly contrived and largely meaningless names for programs etc.

Forget the need to become a mainstream OS

It seems like a lot of people think that Linux needs to supplant Windows and/or MacOS. Why? The lack of market share is a huge reason why Linux, Solaris, and BSD are so free of viruses, spyware, etc. For example, why would the sad, lonely hacker sitting in his parents basement want to write a virus for a few Linux home users when he could hack an international credit card company running Windows?

Also, the "outsider" mystique that seems built in to Linux OS's is, at least for me, part of the attraction. Along with this is the learning experience I get every time I have to get a piece of hardware to function properly.

PS-I agree with Tracy Holz @ 3:53. The rename function in the Windows file manager is a great, handy feature.

typical user

I'd like a distro with no shared code, with each program completely self contained in its folder and sub-folders. No dependencies. No DLL hell, to use a term from Windows. Drive space is cheap today, and will be cheaper tomorrow.

A few word

Linux need a command center to co-ordinate the resources to avoid the duplication of efforts. Distributions are too many. Why don't create more productive applications ?


I know there are many good programming environments to choose from but, a fully supported, full featured, drag-n-drop GUI dev, one-button generate DEB RPM etc install file IDE would be really great.
This is basically how MS got Windows used everywhere, make it dirt easy to generate uniformly-looking apps.

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