Dorsai65 writes: "Having tried and used a number of different Linux distros (Redhat, Fedora, SuSE, Mepis, Gentoo, and (K)Ubuntu, among others) since I made the big switch several years ago, there are certain applications and utilities that I prefer to use over the one that some distros make all but mandatory. For example, I much prefer VLC to any other video player, but my current Fedora12 is adamant that I have to have Dragon Player. I don't care for the default Dolphin file manager, but can't find/see how or where to tell my system to use something else (or even to REMOVE Dolphin, for that matter). So my question for my fellow Slashdotters is this: is there a distro that actually practices freedom (as in free-to-choose) utility/application selection, versus insisting on whatever the devs think is cool/sexy? Can I (relatively) easily have a Linux system that lets ME choose what I want on it without insisting I have to have stuff I don't like or want?"
Dorsai65 writes: "Several months ago, I got started with the Arduino, and have been having a lot of fun with it while applying it to some use.
Something that I've run into, however, is that to get any real mileage out of it, it's almost mandatory to have it communicating with something on a desktop machine — whether that's to do intermittent data collection, provide oversight, implement command and control that the Arduino doesn't provide, or some other functionality. In an effort to share some of what I've learned, and perhaps save others some time and trouble, I'd like to be able to make available the host-based software that I've written to complement my Arduino projects. The problem I've run into, however, is that there seems to be a notable lack of cross-platform (Win/'nix/Mac) tools appropriate to the non-tech and non-programmer that the Arduino hardware is so useful to. I've tried a variety of different languages and environments (Java, Qt, GTK, etc), but found all of them falling short for different reasons.
My question for Slashdotters is: does there exist a language/environment (cross-platform, and preferably GUI) that's both simple to start with, yet has power and flexibility as the user's skills grow? Is there a graphical version of "BASIC" out there that works on the Big Three systems?"