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Announcing the Independence Linux distribution

Goals
=====

We have a dream: spreading Linux between the masses. This means
making it easy to use. But it also means considering those people
who are not using or will not be using Linux as a traditional Unix
— people who have to administer the box before knowing the
simplest of the Unix commands. People who will be using it at home
and have a different idea of fun than C programming. It means we
can no longer act like everyone is on a LAN or the box is powered
up 24h a day. It means we have to stop thinking Linux will be used
only as a server or a programmer’s workstation.

The high cost of Unix banned it from many common uses. Linux can
go where Unix never went — but fulfilling those different needs
will not be reached by designing Linux distributions as just a
cheap version of Unix.

Legal Status
============

The Independence distribution is licensed under the GPL. It is
developed not for profit by a small group of volunteers. Not for
profit means we don’t ourselves distribute it on CDROM but we will
help anyone interested in doing it. Small group means you can make
a difference if you contribute.

Features
========

-Independence is based on RedHat 5.2 with all the errata applied
and with stuff of our own.

-We asked ourselves how to help a Linux beginner and tried to
solve his problems one by one. Like being unable to print and
having postcript viewers whose output is bad enough to make it
nearly unreadable (we fixed the postscript viewers). Or being
unable to ask for help due to clients unsuitable for people using
dial up. We provided alternative ones optimized for dial-up access,
including support for handling expensive dial-up access.

-Of course we replaced traditional cron by one which does not
need the box powered up 24 hours a day.

-We applied to LILO something we will be extending in future
releases: having the info going to the user instead of the
opposite. RTFM is something you can say to people who learned Unix
at University, not to people who have to fix problems before
knowing about “cp”.

-KDE, fonts, font servers (we ship a True Type font server) and
special widgets like neXtaW can be installed transparently to the
user. Just restart X and they will be there. Uninstall them,
restart X and they will be gone. The mechanism is clean and doesn’t
incur the dangers of automatic editing.

-Linux should not only be for hackers. It should be fun and
impressive for everyone. We tried to include software for artistic
creation be it for graphics (Blender, Moonlight, POV, GIMP 1.0.2)
or sound. Of course we added some games.

-Too many Linux users have to reboot Windows because their
software for real life runs on the wrong operating system. Whether
it’s using a WYSYWYG word processor, managing a check book or a
butterfly collection we provided stuff for doing it under Linux. In
order to still reduce the time under Windows we included Wine.

Bugs and shortcomings
=====================

-The installation is the same as the one from the base
distribution. That means dial-up users don’t get the same
assistance as LAN users.

-We don’t ship Gnome 🙁

-We would have liked to include every known GIMP plugin under
the sun.

-Restrictions for distributing the Glide libraries precluded the
inclusion of really good games.

-Some of the additional software is not at the latest version
although we try to be up to date on important or fast moving
stuff.

-It is 2.0 based but a 2.2 upgrading kit is on a separate
directory.

-It is only a tiny step in a long road

Future
======

Features planned for next release include shipping Gnome, adding
PPP configuration at install time, better handling of problems of
non-Americans (like LILO automatically using the right keyboard
tables) and in making XDM the default boot mode in a safe way.

Downloading and additional info
===============================

Go to http://independence.seul.org/distribution/
for additional info about the distribution and downloading
instructions.