Pop!_OS is a highly customized, x86-64 Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and Elementary OS. It is built on the principle of providing the most powerful and versatile tools possible for developers, makers and computer science professionals who use their computer as a tool to discover and create.
Pop!_OS adheres to the System76 product development process. This is an extended version of the process they developed with their hardware product design project. There are seven parts.
Pop!_OS is for people who use their computer to create, particularly in computer science and maker fields. This means that Pop!_OS research, user testing, and features will focus on these customers exclusively. The purpose is to make the most productive tool possible for these users.
Pop!_Theme elements were chosen and modified to match the System76 brand. The design changes as additional new developments reveal previously unknown information. For instance, in desktop hardware, the design evolved as System76 refined the techniques they use to manufacture. Refinement will continue through the product's life.
Start experimenting with basic principles and components. For Pop!_OS, System76 knew that they want a fast and streamlined install and user setup, so they began work there. The purpose is to create a baseline – the platform to build on. There aren’t major features decided or created. For example, in our desktop hardware design, they knew they wanted an easily serviceable chassis, so they started experimenting with how different chassis parts could come together and separate.
System76 will determine what features to create by observing people using Pop!_OS. The process will be open and transparent with shared results for public analysis and conversations about solutions.
For instance, if while observing customers work on their computers they regularly stop to check text messages on their phone, a solution may be to show the message on their computer with the ability to reply. If, through user testing, it's found that customers have trouble finding application features in menus, they will conduct an OS menu study and test proposed solutions.
Feature requests can only be proposed from research and modeling process results. The research and modeling process that we build will be open source so any project or individual can participate.
The pool of testers are exclusively the people that they're building the product for.
Common customer pain points reveal themselves through customer support. System76 mines the data to find trends. One example was Ubiquity crashing due to a lack of WPA Enterprise WiFi support. Fixing the bug removed a customer pain point, which improved the out-of-box experience, and reduced the technical support burden.
Prioritize based on how much each feature will benefit the broader customer base. Keep features small and focused. User-test to determine efficacy and release.
Finally, there are always bugs to work on and they want to keep quality high. System76 revived Ubuntu's 100 paper cuts program under the moniker Bite-sized Bugs.
Pop!_OS is still a relative newcomer to the Linux community, but it's already making waves.
The first indications that System76 might be working on a new distribution were in a blog post by Ian Santopietro on the System76 blog in May 2017. While the initial post didn't talk about the distro explicitly, it did lay the groundwork for what would become the Pop GTK theme that Pop!_OS is built around.
The first actual reference to Pop!_OS came the following month in another blog post where System76 President Carl Richell outlined the Pop!_OS Development Approach.