First Look

The Linux AIO project: All of a distro's desktops in one ISO

Want to try out all of the desktop environments for a distro? Linux AIO makes it a whole lot easier

mutliple linux distros
Credit: MuseScore / Flickr

If you are working with Linux and, like me, want to explore all of the desktop options of a distro, you’ll wind up downloading an endless list of disk images. I find this both mildly annoying and quite time consuming and apparently so do other people. Much to my pleasure, a small team (Milan Rajcic, Zeljko Popivoda, Erich Eickmeyer, and Milos Mladenovic) decided to do something about it. They created the Linux AIO project.

Linux AIO combines all of the desktop environments available for each distro and wraps them up in a disk image for a “live” (i.e. bootable) system that can be burned to a DVD or a USB 4GB+/8GB+ flash drive. The team now publishes six compilations:

  • Linux AIO Ubuntu ISOs
  • Linux AIO Linux Mint ISOs 
  • Linux AIO LMDE ISOs 
  • Linux AIO Debian Live ISOs 
  • Linux AIO Fedora ISOs  
  • Linux AIO Other ISO releases

All compilations include both current and old releases and the Ubuntu ISOs also includes the Long Term Support (LTS) versions. To give you an idea of what’s on one of these ISOs, the Linux AIO Debian Live 8.1.0 64bit ISO includes:

  • Debian Live 8.1.0 Cinnamon desktop AMD64
  • Debian Live 8.1.0 GNOME desktop AMD64
  • Debian Live 8.1.0 KDE desktop AMD64
  • Debian Live 8.1.0 LXDE desktop AMD64
  • Debian Live 8.1.0 MATE desktop AMD64
  • Debian Live 8.1.0 Xfce desktop AMD64

All of the ISOs are hosted on SourceForge where they can be retrieved by either HTTP or BitTorrent. The Linux AIO project also provides instructions for creating bootable USB drives. Here’s what the Debian ISO displays on boot:

linuxaio debianlive8 64bit Linux AIO

This is an excellent concept and the only downside is the Linux AIO haveing the time and finanical resources to keep up to date with distro releases. On the other hand, this is an idea all distro developers really should adopt as a general strategy for promoting the breadth and depth of their offerings.

If the Linux AIO team ever decides to go down the crowdfunding route, I’ll be supporting them.

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