I think that people should be able to have the software that they use available to them whenever they need it and wherever they are. We're at a point in time where this is absolutely doable.
I'd like to create a service that generates Linux images that can be stuck on a USB stick or burned to a CD or DVD and that have everything someone needs available both in the live environment, and also upon doing a fresh install.
Here's a runthrough of a very simple proof of concept I made on a weekend, showing nethack being made available in the live and installed environments. The interface shown is very simplistic, it's only meant to show that the core idea is doable -- I plan on spending a lot of time trying to make sure that the web interface is very clean.
I plan on building this off of arch linux due to it's focus on minimalism and simplicity.
Who Is This Useful For?
Anyone who's ever had to use a recovery partition to restore their system and has had to re-install a bunch of stuff. People who want to be able to use something like the service provided by iCloud, but without the confines of it.
People frustrated by the install process in general.
People who want to ensure that they have access to an up-to-date set of tools or data that they can carry around in their pocket, and that isn't necessarily available publically.
People who want to provide a simple Linux for their family or friends, but aren't quite at the level of expertise needed to be able to customize a live/install image themselves, and don't necessarily have the time to sit down and set up someone else's computer by hand.
How Is This Different From Tools That Already Exist?
In short, existing tools assume that the end-user already knows their way around a Linux machine well. I don't want to make that assumption -- I want to create something that is usable by someone who potentially doesn't know the difference between a web-browser and a bootloader. I wrote a little bit about the differences between this and existing tools over at my blog, check it out if you're so inclined.
What About After Launch?
After launch, I'd be charging a yearly fee of $10 for creation and management of an image, and a $20 fee for mailing out a physical copy if one is desired. As much as I'd like to provide a free service, I can't afford to eat the costs of hosting a service like this, at least not entirely. That said, all tools created will be open-source and appropriately licensed, and development work will be done publicly on my github.
What Is Funding Going Towards?
I estimate that getting an initial, functional, public version up and running will take about 3 months of full-time work. Anyone will be able to see progress made on tools, and people pledging more than $100 will get very early access to the web interface as it's developed, which should occur within two weeks of funding.
Funds raised will be going to covering my living expenses for about three months (approximately $1500). The rest will be going towards initial hosting costs, fulfillment of rewards, and potentially to some A/B testing of interfaces; I want the service to be as usable as possible.
I really think that a service like this could be beneficial to a wide variety of people; I see no reason for people to not be able to have the software that they use and the setup they're accustomed to more than a reboot away.