Pinguy OS: A Distro for All

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One thing I love about open source is that there is no lack of choice, especially in operating systems. Fed up with Windows or Mac OS X? Not sure about Ubuntu, FreeBSD or RHEL? I present to you Pinguy OS, a robust version of Ubuntu that will have you up and running in no time.

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Antoni Norman, the sole developer on this project.

Pinguy OS in action

Pinguy OS in action

The idea for Pinguy OS was born as many ideas are: the need to scratch an itch. Antoni says, “As most people I started using Linux because I was just not happy with Windows and had enough of waiting for Vista. I tried many different distro’s but all of them where lacking an overall polished finish or just wouldn’t work with my hardware. I did use PCLinuxOS for a while as it was the only one at the time I could get working, but never liked it and ended up going back to XP.”

After waiting for Vista, and experiencing more hardware failures when it came out, he went back to Ubuntu. “My first impressions of Ubuntu was that it was a half-finshed OS, it was lacking so much functionality out of the box,” Antoni says. “After some time I got used to how to use Ubuntu and how to fix problems and get things working, and really started to like using it. As I am the go to guy for all my friends and family for anything computer related, I started to get them all converted to Ubuntu. Looking back I wish I hadn’t. It quickly dawned on me that the OS wasn’t ready for the average user (people that think Google is a browser for instance).”

After much tech support to friends and family, Antoni had a much better understanding of what was *really* needed in a distro. He developed his own custom distro just for them, with an improved interface, and often-used apps enabled by default.

He also kept an eye on the Linux community and what new things were coming out. Antoni tells me, “I kept up to date with what was going on in the Linux world with help from Linux blogs and open source news sites I could stay aware of the best programs for Ubuntu and incorporate them into the Distro.”

Although Antoni never planned on releasing his custom distro, after much poking and prodding from those around him, he finally decided to release it into the world.

More PInguy OS

More PInguy OS

Antoni has learned a lot over the course of developing his software, especially that the actual building of the app is “just the tip of the iceberg,” as he says. “When I finally decided to release Pinguy OS on to the web I first did it by using Dropbox. As great as Dropbox is, it does have its limitations. Only a few people could get to download the Distro. That’s where SourceForge has been a lifesaver. You make it so easy to be able to get people’s software out in the open. The success of Pinguy OS is in no small feat thanks to SourceForge. I do very much doubt Pinguy OS would be where it is today without the help of this site.”

Once he had his distribution down, he really needed to figure out how to support his users. Thankfully, Antoni has had the help of the awesome open source community. “What I have learned from setting up the forum is how friendly and helpful the open source community is. I honestly thought that I would have to give most of the support myself, but I was humbled by just how many people where on the forum giving help to people who have never used Linux before.”

The next Pinguy OS 11.04 will use Gnome 3 without the shell elements, “so it will look the same as it does now but using the newer gnome desktop.” Antoni says, “I see no need for this type of interface on a desktop system. I do see the need for Unity and Gnome shell on tablets where you do need the big icons to help navigate around the screen, but as Pinguy OS was designed mainly for use on the desktop I see no need in using either Unity or Gnome Shell in 11.04.”

When I asked him about why he contributes to open source he told me, “The way open source is developed is just so much more superior than closed source. I believe in the many eyes, because so many people can see the code there will always be someone that sees a problem that many other people have missed. I believe this is the best way to develop software and that’s why I contribute to open source. If I want to have a good product then the best way to go about it is to have it open sourced.”

If you’d like to help Antoni, heres how:

As an end-user:
Download and use Pinguy OS
Spread the Word
Follow them on Twitter or Facebook
Submit bugs
Post comments

As a developer:
Send them an email here or post on the forum how you can contribute
Help fix bugs
Help make improvements
Discuss features

Antoni also can use help with documentation. There is a Wiki up and running but it’s only the beginning.

This is a great distro, and one you should definitely take the time to check out. My thanks to Antoni for taking the time to discuss his project with me, and I look forward to seeing this one grow by leaps and bounds!

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