[Techtalk] [Issues] Women's Linux Distro (could it become reality?)

Kathryn Andersen kat_lists at katspace.homelinux.org
Tue Sep 25 02:56:36 UTC 2007

On Sun, Sep 23, 2007 at 06:47:11PM -0700, senegal seventythree wrote:
> Could we make a Women's linux distro for and by Women?
> How long would it take and when could we start making
> it. We could base it on debian or ubuntu.

It *could* be done, sure, if enough people committed to doing it.

What I'm not certain about is whether such a distro is actually needed.

- In what way would such a distro be helpful to women?
- What would have to go into such a distro to make it a Linux-for-Women?

I remember with disgust some of the debate that occurred on the GenToo
forums when someone proposed a GenToo Women group -- some of the remarks
were "Does that mean we'll have to make a GenToo version which is pink
and has ponies on it?".  That disgusted me because it feeds into all the
stereotypes of silly, frivolous, ignorant, computerphobic women that are
so hard to stamp out.

So when I hear such a proposal, I get afraid that it's just something to
pander to that stereotype.

On the other hand "for and by Women" does seem to indicate that that is
not the intent.

I can think of two goals for such a distro:
1. A Linux distro which is more Women-Friendly in its content.
2. A Linux distro whose creators are more Women-Friendly.

I'm not exactly certain that goal #1 can't be fulfilled by any
user-friendly distro (such as Ubuntu).  Women are such a huge group of
people, I don't see how one could say "*this* collection of packages is
more women-friendly than *that* collection of packages".

On the other hand, I do understand how people could feel a need for goal
#2 -- as I mentioned above, there was a proposal for a GenToo Women
group, and a lot of the reaction was quite hostile to the idea, and the
group (so far as I know) has not been created.

But if it's just about having a distro exist where women can participate
in its creation without being dismissed, I'm still not certain that making a
separate distro is needed; there are groups like Debian Women that do
encourage women in specific distros.  As well as LinuxChix itself.

Kathryn Andersen
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