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

rebootless kernel updates

i know ksplice exists, but rebootless kernel updates would be amazing.

GDM's "improvements"

I would undo recent "improvements" to GDM. Especially the ability to run multiple instances of it and the ability to change GDM themes.

Give us similar to next-next-next-ok but keep it secure

At least I know what I hate about Ubuntu and it is that some programs are removed from packet manager for what ever reasons. Another what to hate thing is that programs that are not in the repositories are a security and stability issue and installing them are considered as avoidable things to do.

To get rid of those common problems I suggest the following improvement:

Find an easy way to install out of repo programs so that they still are secure for system and privacy, and are not making any stability issues.

How to:

For example, create a different folder for those programs and give them only limited rights. Some sort of Test Zone, Playground (you name it) provided with a disclaimer informing that these programs are not from repositories so that they may affect to each others because of the nature of the test bed (Test Zone, Playground) but not the host operating systems or programs installed from the repositories.

Another way to solve this is to use them via Virtualbox or alike taking advantage of some virtually running operating system which is not making any harm to the host system.


Calm Down Nerds

Devs and Kernel hackers need to seriously calm down. Being passionate about work / contributions is one thing, but allowing oneself to become emotional about an operating system distribution is pushing it. At the end of the day: worry about your family, your health, your welfare; not whether mono is software terrorism or the antichrist.

Directory Hierarchy

I would delete the whole folder hierarchy and start again from scratch. This is regarding both kernel files and X/application files. None of this ridiculous setup of three letter root folders, no random madness like /opt or files of the same type spread across different folders. Just fix it all from a modern, sensible perspective.

A framework for office

A framework for office suites:
*If all Linux office suites had support for all the same formats
*If all spreadsheets had the same functions that calculate the same answer
*If all that duplicated development went into separate UIs built to fix a particular goal rather than each one trying to meat every goal
*If the framework made creating inovative suits, mobile suits, etc easy

THEN we would be able to compete with and beat ms office.

Imagine if you will a really simple office suite that meets all the needs of 70% of users (your average office workers), but is fully compatibly with a much more complex office suit that the other 40% need (professors, editors, etc).

Linux needs to forget about latest and greatest apps and go back to kick ass libraries.

libdocs, libssformats, libssfunctions, libpresentations maybe even libmapi

BitTorrent for APT

I would make APT use BitTorrent for downloading packages to make software installation as fast as it gets.

What I Would DO.

I would standardize everything. So there will be a main for devs to work with. Then for anyone who wants to play around they can use them.

So instead of devs having to support rpms and debs or gnome and kde or pulseaudio and oss they will just need to worry about one thing. So the OSS community can worry about whatever they wanna worry about.

Ofcourse this will never happen seeing as people think it is evil and such lol.

Paint Shop Pro and a distro supported "TeamViewer"

1) I would talk Corel (who sold Linux technology to Xandros) to port Paint Shop Pro (PSP) to Linux as a commercial offering. Linux needs a true professional image manipulation tool. The Gimp (at 8 bits) -- which I love -- is not it. PSP is a real contender to Photo Shop. I don't see Adobe ever porting it to Linux. PSP is the only reason I run a VirtualBox instance of a legal XP OS.

2) I have converted a handful of people. Supplying remote support should be drop dead simple and not require port forwarding. TeamViewer is great. But could we have one -- say -- supported by and incorporated within Red Hat or Ubuntu?

My Change

I would make it so that volume and media controls work while a drop-down menu is open. Or when a full-screen program is open. That's really like my biggest gripe since switching from windows. (Also being able to alt-tab away from fullscreen programs that steal your mouse.)


Re-build the whole thing as a Lisp Machine

There is a trickle down solution...

First off, Shinaku makes an excellent point, and I am in total agreement. Ubuntu brought Linux to the mainstream, and that is what it is about. If you do not like it, don't use it. I am thinking of switching myself as the proposed changes have me thinking it will not suit my needs, but I love Ubuntu as it is now, and it is one of the distros that brought me over to Linux in the first place.

Anyway, the single thing that would improve Linux as a whole, and promote faster, more improved development of virtually everything is a unified package manager. I think it should be Debian, and I think all repositories should be converted. It would create a "trickle down" effect, and speed up progress.

I love having choices when it comes to desktops, and unifying the desktop would be a huge mistake. I want KDE on my mac, Gnome on my PC, and XFCE or LXDE or JWM or Fluxbox on my netbook. I am typing this on a Sony Vaio that I was given to "fix", and it is an old P4 with about 448 MB ram, and while even after a fresh install of XP it is a complete DOG, it is FLYING in good old Puppy Linux off a Live CD.

We need that versatility in Linux, as it is what sets it apart from Windows and OSX, but having 17 different package formats is utterly pointless...

Many of you are mislabling the problem or missing the point!

The things that you all want to change about "linux" are really just complaints about your distro. Get a new distro. Problem solved.

The biggest single problem I see with linux is that the culture of openness and transparency is seen as too risky for companies with proprietary products to invest in. Everytime someone makes a new and awesome product, we have to wait until some cowboy hacker blesses us with his magic touch and a driver shows up in "staging".

I'm not sure that this can be easily fixed, as the culture is part of the appeal for many of us, but it is certainly the problem. All of the complaints I hear can be boiled down to this. "My webcam won't work! I can't share with iTunes!? I can't video chat with MSN?" etc etc. It all comes down to companies (perhaps rightfully) not wanting to dump all of their IP out in the open so we can thrash it around.

Linux is a blessing and curse. Get over it.

Linux nonsense

I have been using Linux OS'es since longer than many/most users have...I get very annoyed sometimes after reading comments.
I am a retired IT geeky type of person (7 decades old)
What I would like to see is no nasty, snotty comments from some quarters to other Linux users.
Fewer distros and more stable releases

Nice for I/O

The CPU scheduler has a mechanism for accepting user guidance about which processes should receive priority access to contended CPUs: nice.

The I/O scheduler needs a similar mechanism.

Easy to get it all to work

Now I know that there are issues with codecs and the like so they aren't installed by default or on install media and many Linux's make it easy to add so that has become less of an issue.

What I want to see is all my hardware working fully without needing to manually change config and have it all remaining working when I apply updates. I don't care whose fault it is that it doesn't work.

Packages need to be fully checked for dependencies and ensure these are maintained when applying updates. No naughty updating an app and then having bits of it not work because some new libs are also needed but not flagged correctly.

Get a unified API to access the desktop so that users can choose a desktop but if they want a tool from another desktop they don't need to install the whole other desktop. (Not sure if I'm saying this quite right.)


standardization is, IMHO, the first step for general acceptance. I'm not talking about standardizing the desktop (things like merging kde and gnome are not a good thing), i'm talking about the system tree, sound API, hardware accessibility framework, package manager, summarizing...the real core of the OS, and let the rest go wild.

IOnice is already here

juan@juanLaptop:~$ dpkg -S /usr/bin/ionice
util-linux: /usr/bin/ionice
juan@juanLaptop:~$ whatis ionice
ionice (1) - get/set program io scheduling class and priority

Better documentation, and a more usable Gimp

The Free Software community is generally terrible at documentation because the community development model does not seem to work for documentation. We will never get good documentation while the development proceeds first and the documentation is done afterwards.

The Gimp team needs to do some usability studies. E.g. watch a new user try to use layers. Don't speak to him/her, just watch.

I would like

1 Fix the mess that is the way audio is handled
2. INSIST! that HOWTOs are written in good English, and have been audited for consistency to some published standard - too many are incomprehensible, not because of the technicalities but because the sentence structure and grammar are so bad.

Fix the low level stuff

The one thing I would change more than anything else is the lowest levels of user space. Specifically the ELF file format and linking semantics.

As a developer they really make life hell. Both Windows and MacOS are so much nicer. The linux linking semantics really make it very very hard to write reliable software for the platform.

I mean its absolutely stupid that symbols are resolved on a first come first served basis. For example
gcc -o app foo.c bar.c main.c
can produce a completely different app from
gcc -o app bar.c foo.c main.c

couple that with the fact that when I compile code it is compiled to reference an absolute path (yuck).

Then provide a proper CreateProcess API to replace the very broken fork/exec (thy cause all sorts of problem for multi-threaded software) and it would really make linux a much more productive and easy to administer platform.


Yeah....Gimp is soooo fractured as far as documentation goes I totally gave up on trying to use it, What's with the 5 window format anyway? is there a tab option?

I vote for simple gimp, a skin that makes it simple like tuxpaint but it has the ability to go all out if you select tools from the menu.

Big buttons with meaningful pictures that you can use without reading documentation.

Eraser, lasso, scissors, glue, brush, pen, rotate, invert.....
Put layers and stuff in the menu, keep it but you don't need to see every tool on 5 windows with little tiny buttons that mean nothing.

2 Windows,

One Workspace and one tool window, tabbed so the deeper you go back the more specialized the tool.


In the respect of what I want to do, Apple seem to have got a lot of things right. Namely, OS X just works and tends not to annoy the user.

So that's what I'd do. I'd make my own distro that's just perfect. I'd make KDE the killer technology it can be, and it would become the default desktop. Others would be available, but KDE would be the default on my system.

I'd KDE-ize Chromium, and replace Konqueror with it. It would work with Google's Chrome syncing technology and KDE. It would open the source code in the kate kpart, view PDFs with okular (again as a kpart), etc.

Ideally, I'd get Adobe to release a 64-bit version of Flash. However, if that's not on the cards, Chromium would be 32-bit. Why? Because nspluginwrapper SUCKS!

I'd also like the Nvidia drivers to go open source. The nouveau drivers still don't play nicely with my laptop (the card runs at top frequency all the time, meaning I lose quite a bit of battery life, and it gets bloody hot on my lap).

What would I change?

I have mentioned this before elsewhere; change the name
from GNU/Linux with the option of some old GUI, to, "Doors"
with a fast, functional, new GUI called "Open".

Closed Windows competes with Open Doors; has a nice ring
to it, dunnit, eh!


Bazza, G0LCU...

Team AMIGA...

on second thought's

I'd just make zsh default in a ll distro's


One thing I'd like to see change is the elitist attitude common among many of the self-fancied "old guard". It reminds me of a little boys attitude when a little girl dares to enter their clubhouse. Kind of petty and silly really but whatever.

Genuine Innovation

Stop endlessly re-inventing the w-i-m-p desktop and think of a new way of interacting with the computer, much as the iphone did for phones.

Stop endlessly re-inventing the sound architecture and settle on something.

Surely we ought to have a choice of great voice-op or voice-input systems now? Where is my talking computer? Kirk had one in the 1960s, it's the future NOW!

Re-invent the spreadsheet. We are stuck in endless elaboration of R1C1 and 1-2-3 simplicity. Let's have something free-form, free-wheeling. The user obviousness of a spreadsheet with the power of mathematica

A fully functioning cad system to rival autocad but with real ease-of-use. Command line drawing primitives, yes, but in a scrolling window on the left hand screen, from whence they can be cut-and-pasted to make a macro. Drawing libraries, parts libraries, on the right hand screen that can be dragged onto the drawing sheet on the middle one. Automatic scaling - start drawing something in units, and have the library parts match the units being drawn so they don't have to be resized. Multiple input devices like the old McDonald Douglas joystick, spinwheels, and sliders that can be linked to any axis or function - more than just a mouse, please.

Super key should work

This is my first foray back into the *nix world in quite a while and I actually use the keyboard, even after 16 years of Windows. The Super key is a familiar tool and I think that easy customization would be a great feature in the GUI version.

I have written several

I have written several things and keep changing the wording so I'll keep it short and simple. I would change the mindset of developers.

A new theme and a few new programs I could have downloaded myself does not constitute a new distro to me.

But we've got updated packages, they say. I say I've already updated my packages. What else do you got? But, but, we've got this shiny new version of Gnome...bah, have you fixed the folder structure? Have you done anything with the Linux side of the distro or have you just customized Ubuntu?

"what" they respond blankly...

This is what I would fix.


I would raise the bar of admittance/change the user. Too many people run GNU/Linux without a clue as to what it really is or how it works. These morons blight the community with their insane babbling...

Most of the things to change in the comments are silly rants of a casual user from Windows-userland. Ignorant and more ignorant. It's you that needs to get past go, not GNU/Linux. Moreover, the complaining you do on forums and everywhere else shows how inept and immature you really are. Nobody wants to help you because you won't even help yourself. Nobody ever said - here, I made this just for you - feel free to bug me at all hours with your demands.

Your Mama still clean your backside?

Yes, I would definitely change the user. Esp. those demanding handouts with absolutely no intention of learning a thing. Do everyone a favor - GO BACK TO WINDOWS!!!!!

I'm not a geek. I'm also not immature, stupid, lazy, demanding, or 14. GNU/Linux epitomizes the phrase, "if you want something done, do it yourself". Otherwise you take what you're given and like it. Like in the world of Windows, where they know exactly what you need.


JRE and Firefox

Easier integration of Java Runtime into the Linux version of Firefox. I have Fedora core 6 and can't make JRE work.

Would like to have

Would like to have standardized file extensions. I am a former windows user and could understand what most files were for by their extension. I get confused with Linux, and am very much a newb.


No contest: Gaming

Easier boot menu modification and partitioning

It would be nice to make it easier for a user to change their default boot choice; many newcomers to Linux may still want Windows as their boot choice default, but in a distro like Ubuntu (at least up to version 9) they have to find the right file and use a text editor.

Also, the partitioning of drives is fairly easy for experienced users, but for novices they would have no idea what they are doing.

I'm thinking from the perspective of attracting new users, and anything that helps make the dual-boot process easier would greatly help.

Quite simply - the community

As in real life, there are lots of views and attitudes in the Linux community; it is important that each part of it understands every other part. It should then take steps to make sure those parts are included as easily as possible, or make it clear that they will find things difficult and should think twice about participating.

The "Linux" system itself needs to be classified so that elements of the software are either operating system or applications - to me, a desktop or window manager is a part of the operating system, a web browser is not. Each part of the operating system needs to integrate into the other parts of the operating system that are required for it to operate - and to be strict in not including things for the sake of it. I have followed the development of Firefox, as a user, and the way phones have followed suit, in the way that core functionality is provided, with additional functionality provided by extensions, apps or whatever. This model could be applied to both operating system components and applications. By careful classification and division into core functionality and optional functionality, users can choose what they need and what they don't. Too much software drifts into a bloated mess with poorly structured documentation.

The development community needs to be clear about what each project is developing and how people can get involved. If certain skills are required, these should be clearly stated so that people know if they can help or if they can't. How many projects provide a web site that holds a prominent "Getting involved" section or link, some way of communicating (a forum NOT a mailing list!) and a repository of documentation such as a wiki? How many comments are added by people who cannot understand, or are too lazy to follow instructions?

The user community needs to be understood; importantly the recognition that the users that Linux needs to attract just want their hardware to work with the software, to do what they want in an easy and logical way, and to be reliable. The key question here is the installation process. Where integration is required, installation may be necessary, but applications could be written so that the installation consists of unpacking a zip file into its own directory and running a configuration script (only needing access to that directory); removal consists of deleting that directory. Heaven help us if the idea of a Windows Registry ever takes off. Project development teams need to make it clear how to install and what dependencies are required, including provision of pre-compiled binaries for various configurations of Linux.

The distribution community needs to focus on making things easier for the users. A lot of effort has been spent on the user interface, but too many just install stuff because it has been put in the distribution, whether the user wants it or not. The more we install, the more we need to update and the more we give opportunities for attackers or clashes between different programs.

The whole community needs to recognise the strength of the Linux community in the way that it can cooperate, and the advantage of building a system out of small, effective single-function programs. A monolithic multi-function program is more complex and harder to maintain. There seems to be an obsession with continually building in new features that most users do not need (how many Windows users need MS WORD and could be just as effective with Wordpad?).

I do worry that this would need a community effort to establish standards, and that would be open to the influence of powerful parties wanting to gain an advantage from it. I want a system that does what I want (i.e. a HOME network) that is simple and easy to manage and accepts PCs, laptops, phones and peripherals - in fact a system where the operating system is either irrelevant or invisible. I don't think I am alone in this, and if easier to do so, I would get involved somewhere to make it happen.


I would get rid of Grub2. It's far too complicated, takes far to long to boot, and mostly doesn't work.

I'd tidy up the file

I'd tidy up the file structure so it makes sense - ie. better folder names, keep apps in app folders, system files in a system folder, etc.

I want it to be consistent in its interface, and for that interface to be the best, most user friendly, nice looking, option.

I want the GIMP interface to be scrapped and started afresh with something good.

I don't want to be surprised if a distro installs properly.

I'd like to see as much effort going into the experience of the normal computer user, as that the developer. People use computers to do things useful for life, not just computers.

I think it's sad that, considering the time Linux in all its varieties has been around, the best looking, easiest to use, best designed variants are Google Android and Apple iOS4 - both of which have barely arrived and yet are already doing more things right than the wildly disparate, disagreeing, flame throwing linux communities out there.

Fire Protection Engineer

I use Ubuntu 10.04 and will eventually upgrade to 10.10 sometime early 2011 when must bugs are worked out. THIS IS THE CHANGE I WANT: Something like the system recovery cosole in Windows M$ so when a update or upgrade goes bad (it usually doesn't) one just has to hit a few buttons and presto your back to prior un-updated un-upgrade version.

In file browsers, have a OPEN BASH HERE & OPEN BASH (Shell name) HERE as ROOT command so I don't have to wander thru a directory structure just to 'sudo sh' a file to install a package.

Get rid of grub

I will reiterate what biggles1000 said. Get rid of the grub! There is nothing grand about it. Currently I am booting from a super grub disk. I need to back up my files and reinstall ubuntu. I get an "error: out of disk" when I try to boot without the cd. Why? Because I forgot to unplug my HDD with Windows installed on it before running an update. It seems that I get about 90 days on a fresh install before an update destroys the install in one way or another. Usually I can fix it after 4 hours of research and script re-writing. This time I will need to format the HDD and reinstall everything.

I used to try to convert people to a Linux based OS. I now know that is something that will not happen anytime soon (too many bugs). The only Linux based OS I now recommend is Android for a mobile device.

Defense Organization

How I Would Change GNU/Linux.

If I could afford such a thing, I would set up a global legal defense organization that had no monetary, technical, or intellectual limitations.

The purpose(s) of this organization would be to catalog every software patent ever issued on Earth, to catalog every software-related copyright, to catalog every line of software code ever written, to determine whether a line of software code in free and open-source software violates someone's patent or copyright in non-free and closed-source software, to provide legal defense for FOSS-makers who are being accused of patent and/or copyright infringement, to force all litigants who claim that someone has violated their patent of copyright with some bit of code to specifically demonstrate precisely what code they own the patent of copyright for (no more vague threats), to burn all patents and copyrights that have been issued for software that has not yet been written, and to find suitable replacements for R.M.S. and L.T. (so that when each of them dies in years to come there won't be terror in the hearts of GNU/Linux users).

Our weakness is also our strength

I'm not very computer wise. But what attracted me to Linux is the fact that it is free as in free of charge and especially because its free of viruses.

And this attraction for Linux began back in the year 2000. Remember the Y2K bug? Who were the folks that were panicking? Not the Linux users.

So, we should advise everyone to keep at least one working Linux computer in their household. Because if a y2k type bug ever actually hits worldwide, the only people that will be able to communicate via their computers will be Penguins.

What I would change

"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'd drag folks like the above^ out in the road to be shot. You do not deserve to use Linux if you spout off M$ and Winbloze. Get out of the community, you only hold us back.

[quote]What I would change

[quote]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.[/quote]
Here's the thing, if there was a high enough demand for it that it would be profitable to sell, it would probably be in department stores, but there isn't. Relatively few people know about Linux, yet fewer are interested, and even fewer use it. The thing is that anyone who is interested in it can simply download it off the Internet, burn it to a CD, and install it. It would be out of line for a government organization to force businesses to provide a product that a very small minority is interested in that is readily available for free from other sources. Businesses should not be forced to risk their profits in the name of a free software crusade.

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