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After looking at the latest edition of MakuluLinux, which comes with MATE 1.8 and looks awesome, we decided to ask Jaque Raymer, the lead developer of Makulu, a few questions regarding this new, customizable distribution which employs a new direction, making it stand out compared to other distributions.

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Hello there Jaque, how are you?
I am well thank you, and thank you for contacting me, it is my pleasure to respond to you.

What is MakuluLinux, and what distro is it based on?
MakuluLinux is a variety of Desktop environments based on Debian, specifically the Testing branch which allows the user to receive core updates on a rolling release basis which makes the distro a long term based installation, therefore the user can install with the knowledge that he need not have to worry about re-installing anytime soon.

All right, what is new or different compared to other distributions? What can you tell us about the feature which allows the user to install only the packages he wants?
Linux used to be all about functionality, stability and flexibility, the ability to make your desktop look and feel exactly how you want it to be, and at the same time you know you are using a very stable and secure system. But times change and users still want all of those things, but now they also want eye candy, they want the “wow” factor, it is not enough anymore to simply make a good stable desktop environment. Most users don’t run 486 computers anymore, its all core i5 and i7’s and they want to push the hardware, they want the wobbly windows, the beautiful backgrounds… Yet at the same time you have to cater for the users that still run the older hardware. Makulu 6 series caters for both worlds, users can run the Mate distro with all the bells and whistles, or turn it all off with a simple click, strip down the system to minimal software, switch off the animation, beautiful borders, wallpaper changer, dock bar and so forth all with a few clicks and Makulu offers this in the new 6 series, most of these features will be ported to our other Desktops as well.

The other factor to consider is the learning curve of Linux, new users don’t want to spend a week figuring out how to do this or that via a terminal. The days of using only terminal in Linux are numbered, Linux is moving more and more to GUI, and MakuluLinux 6 series offers much more GUI presence than ever before. The user can now search the repositories without having to open the software or package manager, install and remove software without having to type “apt-get install”, and thus the learning curve is slightly easier, the terminal will always have a place in Linux, it just won’t be used for every little thing anymore.

Lastly, you also have to remember that in the past it was simply Windows vs Linux vs Mac, now it’s BSD, Google OS, Android etc… So you have to step up your game, the user wants and needs to feel good about his operating system, and with Windows making a lot of bad choices with windows 7, 8 and 8.1 it is pushing more and more people to seek alternatives… So you don’t just build your distros to cater for long time Linux users anymore… It is all about taking a step back and looking from outside the bubble and identifying what is needed and how you can go about implementing it; the moment a developer does that, that is when progress is made.

Can users try MakuluLinux, is there a Live CD?
All the distributions we put out have a live environment, You can simply boot the ISO straight into live mode, should you wish to install it you can simply launch the live installer from Desktop.

Who works on Makulu? Are you doing this all by yourself?
No, I do the physical work myself yes, but i do have a lot of assistance from the OLC group, I also have 6 testers that assist me greatly with development and Cooter keeps an eye on the forums. Prior to Linux I worked on various projects in the gaming world and picked up quite a variety of skills that has greatly been handy with Makulu, it has allowed me the luxury to forego having to rely on third party developers. But at some point I would obviously have to expand the team or I will burn myself out, but I am not quite there yet.

What flavors (desktop environments) are you using?
Me Personally ? I use Xfce, Mate, E17, KDE, Gnome and I have a copy of Windows (I use it for work related purposes only). MakuluLinux currently offers Xfce, Mate, KDE and E17, however I am looking to include another DE at some point.

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What about repositories? It looks like you’re including by default a bunch of custom repositories for various apps too.

In the past Makulu did not have its own repository and as such relied on other repositories, but as of the 5 series we have our own repository, and slowly we are limiting the number of other repos we include by default. Everything is there for a reason, it is not just a bunch of random repos slapped together. All the custom not so popular software we offer are available in the Makulu Repository.

So what is the basic vision behind Makulu? What are your goals for Makulu and why are you doing this?
I can write a book on this question… At the moment I am still finding my feet and learning as I go, there is no such thing as a Master Piece that was ever made in a day or even a year, its a long term process and goals / vision changes and grows with time. Right now I am happy with knowing that I am contributing to community in mostly a positive way. I am happy with the current direction of the project, I will allow it to grow at its own pace and when the time comes for bigger things I will base my goals / vision on the data available at that point. Personally, I would love to build my own desktop environment from scratch at some point, I have a lot of ideas for something new and special, and hopefully one day I will get that opportunity, but I am still a long way off from that. For now, I can say that I will do my utmost best to continue making Makulu stand out, I will continue to push my own boundaries and limitations and as I learn and grow in skills It will hopefully show in my work.

What about community? Are you still working on establishing a user base? What role does the community play in Makulu?
MakuluLinux is growing steadily at its own pace, we are seeing an increase in users everyday, it is also driven by its user-base, therefore the users steer the direction of the releases. We gather info via email, blog posts, surveys, chat rooms, forums etc and then take all of that info and make decisions based on the feedback. Obviously I have my own goals and agenda that I incorporate with the feedback.

Why Kingsoft Office?
Why not? To me Kingsoft is the obvious choice, Linux is not only about existing users anymore, 51% of my downloads are Windows users, and Kingsoft office is much easier to use and learn than LibreOffice from a Windows user point of view, not to mention that it is compatible with MS Office straight out of the box and this will appeal to ex-Windows users greatly.

menu

Where does the name come from? Google seems to leave me clueless.
Makulu (pronounced “Ma coo loo”) in the Zulu Language means “Big chief” or “big Mamma”, depending on the context used, and this fits perfectly with our style, we always make sure we stand out from everyone else. The hippo being one of the biggest animals in Africa fits well with the Name, and let’s face it, who does not like hippos?

Thank you for answering our questions, Jaque, and good luck in the future development of Makulu!
Thank you, and I would highly recommend you run the new Mate distro for a few days and unlock all the mysteries and secrets it holds, there is a lot more to it than just what you see in the live environment…

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Innocent Bystander says:

Super cool interview. Very good questions. Thanks.

lucius says:

Linux used to be all about functionality, stability and flexibility, the ability to make your desktop look and feel exactly how you want it to be, and at the same time you know you are using a very stable and secure system.

No, it didn’t. It used to be about openness and freedom, but it got hijacked by the convenience nazis – they who must be pandered to at all costs – now Linux is stuffed full of proprietary-ware and nasty Corporate trash and anyone who tries to point out that the roots were about freedom and openness is told that convenience and making Linux “like Windows” is the ony goal worth aiming for.

Gary Newell says:

Excellent interview Dan and Jaque.

Somewhat Reticent says:

Yes, Linux was about getting to know the joy of learning about programming your computer, which gave freedom, and participation in a community, which gave a viable platform. Gradually the community has been invaded by abrasive trolls who serve empires through obfuscation and intimidation, but voices of innovation and mentoring still sing forth.

Bling it on (if you must), and embark on a voyage of discovery!

‘Power users’ from [other camps] are seldom impressed by look-and-feel, wannabe mini-empires, or service-stealing mooches, but they appreciate openness, elegance and integrity.

May Jacque et al dodge over-extension burnout, and enjoy a fine long run on their chosen path.

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