Gobo Linux

Posted on May 07, 2008

GoboLinux is a modular Linux distribution: it organizes the programs in your system in a new, logical way. Instead of having parts of a program thrown at /usr/bin, other parts at /etc and yet more parts thrown at /usr/share/something/or/another, each program gets its own directory tree, keeping them all neatly separated and allowing you to see everything that’s installed in the system and which files belong to which programs in a simple and obvious way.

After reading the overview of GoboLinux, I decided immediately that I had to check it out. The rare people who’ve seen my home path know that I am a stickler for organization. I keep it organized and linked in such a way as to make it intuitive for myself and my backup scripts. I rarely every have use for a desktop search tool because of this — a few shell scripts and common unix tools are all I need. Needless to say, while I understand the Linux file-system hierarchy; it leaves something to be desired from my obsessive tendencies. That’s what made GoboLinux so appealing. Its organization and design philosophy mirrored my own greatly, and it wasn’t such a radical departure that I wouldn’t be able to run my favorite programs — the whole file-system is backwards compatible with the traditional Linux layout. Perfect.

So I created a new partition and installed Gobo… the experience was hopeful, but it wasn’t the dream I was hoping for.

One thing still lacks with Gobo: hardware support. It only gives you the bare essentials and expects you to take it from there. That means configuring your own network interfaces, wireless devices, video cards, and so forth. Each piece will require you to at least edit some configuration files, boot scripts, and start services manually. Essentially, stuff that we’ve been too spoiled to do with most modern distributions.

However, Gobo is still a very young project. Its development community is very small. However, it is growing. There is a lot of heated debate over its file system structure. I side with the developers however; I think their design will prove to be robust and useful in the long run. It just needs time and commitment from more talented people to bring it to that level where it can compete with the likes of Ubuntu, Mandriva, and the like.

Unfortunately, I have neither the time or patience to deal with the lacking hardware support. I think I will be sticking with Ubuntu for now. I hope that perhaps in time Ubuntu will see the merits of the Gobo file system design and make it an optional layout for interested users. Until Gobo matures, it’s Ubuntu for me — quirks, nuisances, and all.