Earlier this year, 17-year-old developer Taylor (who prefers not to publish his last name) had a brainstorm. There’s a version of Linux available for almost every niche, but nothing that targets the tween demographic – young people too old for elementary school but too young for the big leagues. Who better to bring Linux to that market than Hannah Montana, Disney’s real-life pop princess? Thus was born Hannah Montana Linux.
The distribution is based on Kubuntu, the Ubuntu version that runs the KDE desktop, but Taylor says he stripped out software such as OpenOffice.org and KOffice to make the distro lightweight enough to fit on a 700MB CD. (Of course users can employ the apt-get utility to download those applications or any of thousands of others for free.) He also added a lot of themes featuring the tween idol. “Kubuntu isn’t that hard to customize,” he says. “You just have to be an artist and a hacker – hacker in the good sense, that is.”
Taylor released the software July 15. The existence of the distro began to spread by word of mouth. “I just told a few people about it,” Taylor says. Soon there was a review on Desktop Linux Reviews, another on the Linux Critic Blog, and coverage on OSNews, Linux Today, and elsewhere. Taylor says that, according to his torrent counter (which keeps getting reset), more than 2,500 people have downloaded the distribution in the last two months.
“Some people think it’s crazy,” Taylor admits, “but almost no one says it’s a bad thing.” In fact, Taylor says, Miley Cyrus personally gave him a thumbs-up for the project. Her corporate masters at Disney so far have been silent.
Taylor says he is continuing to develop the distro. He plans to include KOffice and a few new apps, including HMExec, which will allow users to run a script without opening a terminal window. He will also fix the boot screen, which currently displays a blue square that doesn’t belong there. Taylor hopes to release new versions every six months or every year.