Shift Linux: A New Direction

Since its incarnation in 2006, Shift Linux has had an ambitious team behind it. We have always strived to be "more than just another linux distribution", a goal which has never been more important than it is now. Over the next little while, Shift will be reborn and redefined, moving farther away from traditional Linux roots, and into something newer. Linux will always be our core, but on top of that, we need to use new technologies, both those that exist and those which we can only imagine, to build something fresh. Today, Shift Linux will move forward.

We have several new goals that are being set. First of all, Shift needs to be streamlined. Some things are going to be cut out to make room for others. The biggest changes here: one distribution under one name. Shift Linux will be Shift Linux. There will be no Shift Lite or Shift KDE or Shift Gnome, there will be a Shift Linux. And Shift Linux will run Gnome by default. It is important, however, to make one thing very clear: we will always hold a place for alternatives, and where possible we will always offer KDE and Fluxbox for one click installation.

There are several reasons for this drastic change. First of all, we can not cover such vast territory with the small team we have. Having more than one version means we need to do everything twice, and our research shows a large majority of people would prefer to use Gnome over anything else. With only one flavor of Shift, we can put twice as much time into Gnome, resulting in something that truly is new. Secondly, user friendliness. Besides the obvious reason that one thing to download is one less decision for a user to make, having one distribution allows us to focus more on our other new goal of user friendliness. This goal is the number one priority for us. Our prime demographic is not Linux users; there's no reason for a Linux user not to choose Shift, after all, it's not like we'll be locking them out of our technologies. There is, in fact, more reasons for them to use Shift.

User friendliness makes everyone's lives easier. Whether you like power or not, the less you see of the terminal and the more you can do with less clicks, the more efficient of a workflow you have. Less time in the terminal. More time doing work. More time having fun. And you'll always have the option of opening up the terminal and working from there if you want.

Being "noob friendly" is never a good reason to not use something, because using it does not make you a "noob". Rather, using it gives you access to the simpler side of things. Anyone who doesn't use a distribution because it's too easy simply doesn't care about their efficiency, and so honestly, we are not aimed at you with that kind of attitude. But we welcome you, and think your attitude should probably change.

Finally, Shift Linux will not be a rehash of things that already exist. Shift Linux will be something new. The third and final goal we now have is to not install things that already exist, but to invent the ideas we all want to exist. If there is an open source Linux application that suits our needs, we will use it. But that's not all we will do: we will make the things that don't suit our needs all over again. Linux has so much potential to tap into, and so many programming languages for us to use. The Neowin community has an infinite amount of people who can help us, no matter what their language. We can use Mono, we can use Python, we can use C, we can use Perl. Whatever you know programming wise, we want you.

Further on that point, Shift Linux will look good. Design will be integrated, because it fits into both our goal of "something new", and our goal of user friendliness.

Now, there are a few things I want to say that are not going to change yet. We will, for the time being, stay on Ubuntu. It suits our needs personally right now, because it is user friendly, but we can push it further. I do not believe that Ubuntu is what Linux should be, but I think the Ubuntu team has a fantastic initiative, and the work they have done lays the perfect framework for us to build upon. When the time is right, and we have enough dedicated developers, we may move away from our Ubuntu roots. But right now, Ubuntu is just fine for us.

There is no time limit for Shift Linux. There are no deadlines. We will ship when we are ready. And what we ship will change Linux as we know it. I ask you to help us create something fresh. Something better than Windows, something better than Mac OS X. I have the motivation, and I know you do too. So if you are a veteran of our team, someone who hasn't helped out in a while, or someone who is hearing about Shift, or even Linux, for the first time, we need you. Together, we can be the new face of Linux.

- Simon Andrews, Shift Linux Project Manager.

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I hope this doesn't mean KDE will not work as well, I for one am a developer, and GNOME is developed to be used for everyday tasks (email, office, web etc.) and not for development. It just doesn't have any developer-centric features, and compared to KDE makes development a real pain as you have to use the command line loads more. Make sure you still do cater for advanced users and still ensure KDE is working at least.

"We can use Mono, we can use Python, we can use C, we can use Perl"

Are there some plans of things they should implement?

Linux will always be Linux... even though it has potential it will never be as 'good' as windows or mac os... you can use linux for everyday use(internet browsing, chat, email, music, videos etc) but when it comes to do some work on it... well.. install adobe software or some 3d software... or even some professional music software... tough luck there... and that's too bad... cuz i really like linux... i'm impressed so far by what the guys at the ReactOS have done... i think it will get in it's final stage a bit too late because by then the software community will move on to the newer version of windows... anyway i would suggest the mac os installation method for a future linux release but as long as it's linux at the core of the OS i don't know if that's even possible.. well good luck to your team!

Nave said,
Less talk, more results.

I don't want to be an ass about this but I'm for more results as well.

I'm fine with Windows, but every consideration towards Linux in general has to limit me in some fashion in my usage of my machine.

This sounds a bit vague, but terribly interesting and inspirational. Some smart moves to focus attention. I look foward to seeing the sorts of things you've got planned!

The ONLY thing that keeps me from using Shift is my hard drive...when it was based on Ubuntu it wouldn't see my hard drive for some reason...Ubuntu or Shift. Mandrivia did however. So if it sees my hard drive I would love to try it out.
Good luck with it

(Btw, Its a old Western Digital 40 gig, time to upgrade anyways lol)

Great start, Simon. I know that your excellent skills and drive will continue production of this fine project. I really am excited to read this!

I really hope this takes off. If not the product, the idea. I'd love to see something designed and maintained by the user instead of the corporation; something funded by ideas instead of corporate sponsors and shady back room deals. I hope you (we) can make something that causes the "big wigs" to depend on us for a change. It's a really good idea and I love how you put the average user first. Good luck, I can't wait to see the results.

Good luck guys If you're aiming to make something better than OS X and Windows than I really applaud your aim!! I hope you reach your goal and make us all proud users of Shift Linux !

I have never tried shift before but i have been looking at it and reading up about it and from what i have seen it looks like a mighty good OS already. I know a hell of a lot of work has gone into this project so far and it has the potential to be a top OS i think.

I would install linux right now but at the moment i dont have my own computer

Just been reading through Suse 11.1 reivew and I have one thing that would be a major turn around for linux/gnome is a complete change/restructuring of the install process/application to be a much more simplified streamlined process like that of Windows or OS X is where you put in a few options and a few advanced ones and then it does rest unattended. That would be a major thing i'd imagine in drawing in people who're not average linux friendly people.

+1 on this. I'm not a massive Linux user, but I do use it regularly, and one of the most infuriating things for me still is trying to install an application that isn't available in a repository. Manual installs always have been a pain in the backside.

Majesticmerc said,
+1 on this. I'm not a massive Linux user, but I do use it regularly, and one of the most infuriating things for me still is trying to install an application that isn't available in a repository. Manual installs always have been a pain in the backside.

That indeed is a major point but i was meaning in terms of installing the OS and configuring it being a bit more simple, unattended and visually pleasing then what they use now.

Digix said,
That indeed is a major point but i was meaning in terms of installing the OS and configuring it being a bit more simple, unattended and visually pleasing then what they use now.

Oh OK fair enough.

Well I've never tried shift, but I thought the Ubuntu install process was pretty reasonable in terms of options.