To me, bloat is about the (additional) demands on RAM and CPU. Even with my limited hard drive space, I don't pay much attention to the size of an app that I'm installing as long as it is below a couple hundred megabytes. After all, it's not like it'll take 30 minutes to download like a distro .ISO would
I, myself, was not a VLC user from day one. I used to use a distro that the .ISO was 2+ gigabytess in size (it's 3.8 gigs now, lol), so you can probably imagine that it came preloaded with LOTS of apps - and multiple apps for many common tasks, so the user could pick the one they liked best. For videos and when I just wanted to listen to one or a couple of audio files, I'd just "double-click to play" within the file manager and whatever the default (mplayer? totem? Other than VLC, they all kind of look alike to me) player was, it'd play the file. For the task of playing multiple audio files, dealing with the digital version of my music collection, playlists, populating my portable .mp3 player... since I was still occasionally booting into a Microsoft OS at the time, I happily used Media Monkey for that stuff.
As VLC was one of the included apps, I tried it. IIRC, I tried to hit the right-arrow key to skip forward through the video, it didn't work, so I quit and used the default player. And thought no more of using VLC.
Until one day I found myself wanting to convert a file into a different format. Actually, I was trying to "convert" the audio track from a video into an .mp3 so that I could throw it onto my .mp3 player and listen to it at work. A friend said, "You don't need a conversion app, just do it in VLC." It turned out that VLC could convert files in addition to playing them. It also turned out that there were two
levels of skip forward/backward through media files (both user-adjustable, of course) - I just hadn't bothered to look to see what keys to press to activate them. And if you've ever been annoyed by a video that has an improperly-synchronized audio track (you know, that makes the viewing experience something akin to watching a badly-dubbed low-budget martial arts film, lol?), that's simple to fix with VLC. Same thing goes if you're using subtitles and they aren't synchronised. And the list of features just goes on (and on).
Perhaps that's why the gross size of VLC is larger than some other comparable apps... the fact that they're not really comparable at all, that VLC is quite full-featured? Or maybe it's because VLC is able to play almost any type of audio/video file "OotB" without
requiring the user to have the codecs installed on the system?
Having used the app now for a while, I find that I use it by choice and if it's not preinstalled in a distro, installing it is one of the first things I do. Should VLC, IMHO, be the default app of its type? I think it should come preinstalled. If there's only to be one such app, then yes, it should be default by, err... default
. It's quite powerful and it's as easy to use as the rest of them. One just has to glance through the menus and take a look at the help files (which, unfortunately, are webpages which require an Internet connection, but nothing is perfect).
(As to the best app for playing - and managing - the user's audio file collection? Well, one can still hope that someone will someday choose to port Media Monkey over to linux. It really is the best app of its
type that I have ever used on either OS platform (IMHO, of course).)
Speaking of media players, I think Minitube would be a good app to have preinstalled on a distro (if it isn't already; I cannot remember). It does what it does - at least in the more recent versions - well. And since it does so without requiring the use of a web browser, it probably fits anyone's definition of being anti-bloat. I'd suggest the Hulu Desktop app for the same reasons (performs its task in such a way that the user-experience is better than the "usual" method of visiting the web page, and does so without the "bloat" of a web browser), except that Hulu officially stopped supporting that app and IDK how much longer it'll function. It still works great at this point, however, so maybe...
I've gotten off-topic, but I'll extend that by suggesting another app for preinstallation in the distro: Aisleriot. Unless I'm mistaken, Mint came without any games preinstalled. My version - Mint 14 Xfce 32-bit - didn't even come with the Games category displayed in the desktop menu, IIRC. I'd guess that more people (that are likely to see a computer in person, at least) than not have played some version of Solitaire. And with 80+ versions in it, the odds are good that the user will recognize one of them. Mint is a good all-around OS and to help show that, having at least one game app would appear to be warranted. Although not everyone enjoys the game in one of its forms, not everyone enjoys playing FPS, either, and a solitaire app does not depend on a powerful graphics card or even a properly-configured one, AfaIK. A distraction, a thing to do to break from "work" without having to leave the chair, because the user is bored... or even for one of the same reasons that Microsoft originally chose to include a Solitaire app, because not everyone who is using Mint for the first time has used a personal computer before solitaire is a good way to become used to using a mouse. The only possible downside I can think of is that Aisleriot does have some dependencies. And some of them might be "GNOME-specific" (or at least GTK-specific), which might add things that KDE-only users who do not intend to install any GTK/GNOME apps in the future would not otherwise be likely to have installed. IDK if there is a version that is geared more toward the KDE/Qt crowd - or a generic one - or not.