More About Wasta-Linux

An "Introduction to Wasta-Linux" slideshow has been created for the Wasta-Linux installer.  A video of this installer slideshow can be seen below in order to give you a brief overview of the features of Wasta-Linux.

Below are answers to some of the more common questions you may have about Wasta-Linux.

Why Linux?

One colleague answered the question "Why Linux" concisely using 3 main points.  In brief, Linux is:

  • Partner friendly
  • Budget friendly
  • Customizing friendly

Basically it is about freedom (not just "free as in no cost"), which means freedom to customize for our work and for our specific users (see more below on this topic), freedom for all to use it, and "free from viruses" (yes, eventually there may be Linux viruses).  For more on these freedoms, please read the "case study" on our organization's move from Windows to Linux in NE Africa.

How can customizations be made to meet my needs?

Beyond individual users that may find the Wasta-Linux system available here "as-is" to fit them well in their situations, it is intended that Wasta-Linux can be used as a base for "location specific customized" versions of Wasta-Linux (providing pre-installed location-specific fonts, keyboards, default applications, settings, reference documents and training materials, etc.).  Once these "location specific customized Wasta-Linux versions" are made available, the ease of install of this customized Linux distribution will provide an opportunity for it to self-propagate throughout the region, even among low-tech computer users.

If customizing is of interest to you, please see this page: Wasta-Linux: Customizing for your needs

What Linux desktop does Wasta-Linux use and what Linux distribution is it based on?

With Ubuntu being recognized as the market leader in the Linux ecosystem, it was determined that using Ubuntu as a base for Wasta-Linux is the best choice.  Using Ubuntu as a base ensures the broadest compatibility with Linux applications for Wasta-Linux.  However, the default Unity interface used by Ubuntu proved challenging to use as it was not familiar enough for users coming from a Windows XP / Windows 7 environment.  After a lot of testing with several different Linux desktops, Cinnamon was chosen as the default "Linux desktop environment" for Wasta-Linux.

The Linux Mint team created Cinnamon, which is a fork of the Gnome 3 desktop called "Gnome-Shell". Since the Gnome-Shell interface has deviated from a "traditional desktop layout" (as defined by Microsoft over the last 20 years), Cinnamon aims to use the underlying updated technology of the Gnome 3 base, but change the appearance and functionality of Gnome-Shell to give a more "familiar and traditional Windows XP style layout" while retaining options to adjust the user interface to layouts inspired by macOS or Ubuntu's Unity.

In summary, Wasta-Linux is based on Ubuntu with Cinnamon added as the default desktop interface.

How is Wasta-Linux different from Ubuntu + Cinnamon?

As noted above, Wasta-Linux has many customizations when compared to Ubuntu with Cinnamon added.  For the curious, here is a summary of some of the significant modifications:

  • "SIL ready": The SIL Linux repository is included and standard SIL fonts have been added, so that applications such as Paratext, Bloom, Fieldworks, Adapt It, WeSay and kmfl (Keyman) are ready for installation from the Software Center.

  • Several applications added, several others removed.  Notable additions include:
    • Wasta-Backup: simple "version backup" utility
    • Wasta-Offline: offline software updates and installs
    • Wasta-Layout: desktop layout settings utility
    • Wasta-Menus: limits the visible applications in the Main Menu
    • Wasta-Resources: centralized distribution of reference and documentation materials
    • Bloom: Literacy materials development for language communities
    • Skype
    • Kdenlive: Non-linear video editing software
    • GoldenDict: Offline (and online using Wikipedia or other sources) Dictionary / Thesaurus
    • Modem Manager GUI: USB 3G modem tool for balance check and top-up commands
    • Pinta: simple to use "MS Paint" alternative
    • Kiwix: offline simple English version of Wikipedia (due to it's size - 1.6 GB - it is not installed by default in Wasta-Linux)
    • Klavaro: typing tutor
    • some useful command-line utilities such as:
      • wavemon: a wifi network diagnostic tool
      • traceroute
      • iperf: a network throughput test tool

  • Centralized update and distribution of "future Wasta customizations": No more being "stranded" as seems to happen with Ubuntu LTS releases.

So, what is "wasta" anyway?

"Wasta" literally means "intermediary", but it implies more: it is seen as having "insider connections", or "special favor or ability to 'side-step the normal process.'"  Think of needing to wait several days in the heat of a government office to get an official "stamp" on a piece of paper.  If you have wasta, then you are able to come around through the "side door" and get the stamp immediately.  So, Wasta-Linux is essentially "cutting to the front of the line" for new users to Linux in order to get a usable system without all the effort of starting from nothing.  The analogy doesn't work when taken too literally, however: don't think there is anything unethical or illegal in the process!  Wasta-Linux is just a light-hearted way to explain that you get the Linux you have been hoping exists without needing to hack on it to get it set up as you want!

Questions or comments?

Leave any questions or comments on one of the Wasta-Linux User Forums should you need any help: