Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

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Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby towy71 » Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:51 pm

Hi
I thought for ease to start an new thread for anybody interested in this subject.

We have set up a channel on irc.oftc.net #lxfc (LinuxFormatCommunity) to allows us to have real time talks. This is not a help channel, it is aimed at those people who want to join in and contribute to "the project"

Erin, nigel, gordon and myself have variously talked with M-Saunders and Andy Channelle and amongst ourselves, and it was thought that we should publish some sort of minutes of the stuff that goes on on IRC.

There was talk of needing lead people but as we have not yet all been online simultaneously that avenue has yet to be explored, although MS and nigel proposed Erin from the community side, while avoiding who might be from "da management" side ;-)

Four of us mug punters got together this evening on IRC and picked out some key points,n.b. these are points for discussion and definitely not a done deal.

<nigel> Have been thinking - some questions we need to answer before we start...
<Erin`> just read the log. seems very positive.
<nigel> 1. What is the minimum spec hardware we are targeting ?
<nigel> 2. Are we going for apt, rpm or other package type ?
<nigel> 3. Are we looking to produce a newbie distro or an experienced user one ?
<nigel> 4. Are we going to go with KDE or Gnome, or a much lighter window manager and add our own choice of apps ?
<nigel> 5. Do we want a live CD (perhaps a modified Knoppix) ?

consensus on
point 1 pentium upward
point 2 apt - because of the huge vareity of debian packages and alien handles RPMs
point 3 experienced but as easy as possible
point <Erin`> 4) much lighter. the purpose is to learn not to clone
point 5 that is not really the point, it is the learning curve and aiding people along it

<Erin`> I'd imagine the distro will be quite thin and so the documentation not a huge task :-)
<towy71> documentation is the key

<Erin`> we need either the Wiki or seperate forum so we can keep track of all this stuff.

<nigel> Yup... so we think we probably want a lightweight apt-based distro that will run on a P1
<Erin`> can run on a...

<gurgs> Do we compile our own packages from scratch or use debians?
<nigel> If we use debs it will be a lot less work
<Erin`> exactly which is why at some point we need to be perscriptive about just what LXFC can and will do out of the box.

there was all sorts of banter in between the discussions including some initial guidance on IRC'ing which I will try to edit and post to the IRC thread.

I apologise if I have got any of the above wrong but I hope it is an honest represantation of what has happened so far.
Now I am exhausted and going to bed
Dick
doh! mugstar also looked in very briefly
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RE: Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby Erin » Fri Aug 19, 2005 10:12 am

Fame at last :-)
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RE: Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby jjmac » Sat Aug 20, 2005 9:13 am

Yeah, a forum log is a good idea.

I just dloaded the xchat sources then and should have it working by this week, i hope. Haven't done irc before, so there may be a few initial hicups (grin). For what it's worth though, i agree with all the above ... On the wm thing though :roll:. It didn't take long for the question -=- KDE or Gnome -=- :roll: to crop up :). Lets __not__ do a default. What ever and as many as there are people able to submit ... all equal in terms of availability and such. There are managers that, in my opinion, are better than both of those. It's just a matter of how the buggers are configured really, as the same is true for any manager. As great strides have been made in the two windows styled managers, there has also been great strides made in some of the others. [ The wm thing tends to be one of my passions, as you may have noticed :) ] :)

What would be more important would be the cross manager compatability. That is, window managers that have the ability o recognise apps designed for a more specific environment. And the inclusion of those apps. I'm thinking of gnomes calculator there. A great little program, which runs with out any loss in my fvwm, as gnome-hints have been compiled in etc, which is aside from just the library being available.


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RE: Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby towy71 » Sun Aug 21, 2005 7:21 am

its early Sunday morning and here is a precis of the stuff that happened since my first post.
[Fri Aug 19 2005] [21:56:31] <gurgs> BTW as a stop gap a little web site for LXFC is up.... what do you think we need on there?
<nigel> Just going to take a look...
<gurgs> http://www.gurgs.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

<towy71> Home of LXFC (Linux Format Community) a home rolled Linux®
<towy71> and the IRC network and channel name

<nigel> Should probably have a page containing the agreed aims/specs
<nigel> perhaps starting with the stuff we discussed last night
<gurgs> Yeah thought of that. News headlines maybe?
<nigel> Here's a thought - anything we don't get unanimous/vast majority agreement on could be submitted to the LXF forum as a short-term poll so we can guage wider reaction


Saturday was fairly quiet
<mugstar> "we probably want a lightweight apt-based distro that will run on a P1 ": I'd go with that.

<ollie> i'll try to find time for documentation - i teach info tech and documentation.......
i think something using apt would be easier to maintain, but we would need to ask debian.org about linking to their repositories,

<jjmac> what would be the chances of being able to upload tarballs to lxfs' wiki once it's up. Or would that be to much of an ask (grin)

<jjmac> regardless of whats available on an app level ... things can always be added. It's the initiall installer that either makes or breaks it.

<jjmac> gotta pull one apart and put it back again
<ollie> that is what i meant, the initial look is what people remember as hard/easy/never again
<jjmac> woodys old installer was a monster !
<jjmac> FreeBSDs' was obscure enough to cost me a partition (grin)
<jjmac> Ubunus' is better, but could be better still
<ollie> i don't think we need to try to port YaST or Anaconda but it can still be friendly or decide on a list of base apps that are installed always
<jjmac> haven't seen that ... why ?
<ollie> YaST = SuSE, Anaconda = Red Hat

<ollie> i've had no hassles installing software, just trying to change obscure server settings ... DNS ;-(
<jjmac> To me it just boils down to the help facility, option choice, and a <back-button>

<ollie> like the start of the web site, i have a css layout under cc that is easy to maintain or modify if you're interested http://www.bathurst-tafe.nsw.edu.au/~steve/css_demo.htm

<ollie> agree that a debian/apt system is the easiest command line update but a GUI like YaST is easier for nerw starters
<jjmac> synaptic ? :)

<ollie> have you heard of Sax2 for x configuration?
<ollie> makes setting up monitor, mouse & keyboard very easy

<jjmac> So ... setup tools ... now theres a something that will keep folks occupied

<ollie> just wanted to say that i think this is a great idea (the lxfc distro) and i can help with any web site design if needed

<jjmac> might have to bail as well. Hope to be able to get back in not to long. Will try and time it to suite uk time :), the project idea is really good too. I wonder if the original poster thought it would take off like that :)

<Erin`> if I can I'll sort a first draft spec so we can discuss something concrete

<nigel> I have used lots of different *nixes in the past - AIX, IRIX, HPUX, ULTRIX - plus loads of VAX/VMS
<nigel> First *nix experience was writing a CAD system in Pascal for a BSD system in 1982

<Erin`> I'll stick to PERL I think (and hope LXFC's scripting will be or Bash!)

<Erin`> not sure how much we'll need to do [GUI] but it'd be cool for a central config tool for some of the common stuff
<nigel> That would be useful... Bit like YAST without the bloat <g>

I hope that is an honest representation of what has happened so far ®
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RE: Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby Gordon » Sun Aug 21, 2005 8:32 pm

Sunday night and Erin, Gordon and Nigel thought that bank holiday Monday 29 August 2005, 10am BST might be a good time for a chat on IRC to discuss Erin's proposed LXFC_spec.

Hope to see as many of you as poss then. :D
Last edited by Gordon on Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby Nigel » Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:35 pm

I think you mean Monday 29th August... ;)

Channel #lxfc on irc.oftc.net
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RE: Home Brewed Distros moving on to beyond..

Postby Gordon » Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:40 pm

Sorry folks, Monday 29 August it is :oops:

Above post has been changed too!

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Postby towy71 » Wed Aug 24, 2005 8:14 pm

Erin posted another piece of text that should help this along, so I've pasted it below. Please be aware that the idea is also to provide a scratch pad for future (pun intended) articles and tutorials on all aspects of choosing, building and booting a new distro

Dick
ps I apologise for the loss of formatting in the following text :?

Linux Format Community distribution (LXFC) -=: 0v1 21/08/2005 en-GB :=-

Draft Proposal to Core Requirements and Project Goals.

The intention is to produce a Linux distribution that is: lightweight; does not
rely on mainstream applications (apps) or window managers (WM); is built as an
end product of a learning experience through production of documentation, scripts,
app selection and the whole process to delivery. It should be considered the
distro is not the significant deliverable but merely the final goal.

CORE:
Hardware Requirements*: 3x86 based, with ideal i586/P1, <100MB RAM. PPC Port?
Software Base*: Linux From Scratch (LFS), possible Debian base
Package Management*: APT/Deb [ability to obtain packages from Debian repositiories
Window Manager*: Something light, Xfce or Fluxbox as example (Not KDE/GNOME #)
X*: Xorg
Sound*: ALSA?
Languages Included*: PERL, Python

SERVERS:
Web Server*: Roxon

APPS: CLI GUI
Text Editor*: Nano NEdit
Image Viewer*:
Audio Player*:
Video Player*:
File Manager*: Xfe
Web Client*: Lynx Standards compliant (Not Firefox)
E-mail Client*: IMAP, SMTP, POP complient pref with PGP support (Not Thunderbird)
NNTP Client*:


* TBC. # agreed
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Postby ollie » Thu Aug 25, 2005 9:20 am

I think we have to definitely use X.org for the X server. This will offer much better "portability" of skills gained to other distros. If we don't use X.org then Nano-X would be an obvious choice as it is extremely portable across hardware platforms.

I'd also like to suggest Amaya as the web client. It offers a browser and development platform that will be the most compliant to W3 standards :wink:

I wouldn't even look at video playback yet, an image viewer (Inkscape?) and office apps for word processing/desktop publishing (Abiword and Scribus? and spreadsheets (not a lot to pick from - gnumeric or kspread are about it after OpenOffice.org Calc) with Adobe Reader for PDF would be a good basis for all systems. For e-mail I don't don't think we can go past Evolution for a GUI system and then its a toss up between pine and mutt.

If we aren't going to use vi then NEdit looks better than nano and seems to offer more functionality.

Just 2 cents worth from down under.
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Postby jjmac » Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:48 pm

Howdy Dick and all ...


It looks like a good draught ...

>>
app selection and the whole process to delivery. It should be considered the
distro is not the significant deliverable but merely the final goal.
.
.
.
does not rely on mainstream applications (apps) or window managers (WM); is built as an end product of a learning experience through production of documentation, scripts,
>>

Yes, i think the learning aspect of how a distro is put together is more important than the distro creation itself (which is very ambitous). After all. it's been done before anyway, and very well too. But what actually is involved ... well :) thats the whole thing. Of course all the LFS people will probably shrug and say "nothing to it really, once you get into it a bit ..." (grin). Hopfully there will be involvement there.

>>
Window Manager*: Something light, Xfce or Fluxbox as example ...
>>

I also agree, as there are already many tutorials/articles on those two ... why double handle those apects. Especially, as you say ... the whole thing is really a leaning project, a kind of scratch pad. People who use different window managers might be able to provide their configuration sets and ideas in that regard ... to speed things along on the configuration side. I think thats the main problem people tend to have -=- trying to figure out how to get an initial sane configuration up. That proving initially hard ... it's giving up on for a more availably prefab environment. A kinda pity really :(

A look over at the "Fvwm" site isn't a bad squize too, if you have the time. Look for a link to -=-
http://www.twobarleycorns.net/
A developer named "Dorothy" has some very good fvwm script examples and exccellent theme graphics, all freely downloadable.


Hope to up early enough on Monday :)


jm
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Postby Gordon » Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:41 pm

Hi folks, all good ideas but: inkscape is a gnome app and relies on a lot of gnome libraries, xfce also relies on some libs from gnome, Adobe Acrobat Reader is, I think, a commercial app, we would probably need to licence it and it also relies on some gnome libs. So for all these we may as well install the whole of gnome too!

When considering what we want on our distro it may be a good idea to run the ldd command against the application you're considering. This will show a list of libraries which the app was compiled against. For instance;

Code: Select all
ldd /opt/gnome/bin/inkscape


on my SUSE9.3 gives this

Code: Select all
   linux-gate.so.1 =>  (0xffffe000)
   libxslt.so.1 => /usr/lib/libxslt.so.1 (0xb7f86000)
   libgtkmm-2.4.so.1 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgtkmm-2.4.so.1 (0xb7d03000)
   libgdkmm-2.4.so.1 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgdkmm-2.4.so.1 (0xb7cc1000)
   libatkmm-1.6.so.1 => /opt/gnome/lib/libatkmm-1.6.so.1 (0xb7c7e000)
   libpangomm-1.4.so.1 => /opt/gnome/lib/libpangomm-1.4.so.1 (0xb7c5a000)
   libglibmm-2.4.so.1 => /opt/gnome/lib/libglibmm-2.4.so.1 (0xb7c15000)
   libsigc-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libsigc-2.0.so.0 (0xb7c0e000)
   libstdc++.so.5 => /usr/lib/libstdc++.so.5 (0xb7b50000)
   libpng.so.3 => /usr/lib/libpng.so.3 (0xb7b22000)
   libpopt.so.0 => /usr/lib/libpopt.so.0 (0xb7b1a000)
   libgnomeprintui-2-2.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgnomeprintui-2-2.so.0 (0xb7ae9000)
   libgnomeprint-2-2.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgnomeprint-2-2.so.0 (0xb7a90000)
   libgnomecanvas-2.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgnomecanvas-2.so.0 (0xb7a65000)
   libxml2.so.2 => /usr/lib/libxml2.so.2 (0xb7951000)
   libz.so.1 => /lib/libz.so.1 (0xb7940000)
   libart_lgpl_2.so.2 => /usr/lib/libart_lgpl_2.so.2 (0xb792a000)
   libgtk-x11-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgtk-x11-2.0.so.0 (0xb7662000)
   libgdk-x11-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgdk-x11-2.0.so.0 (0xb75e7000)
   libatk-1.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libatk-1.0.so.0 (0xb75cd000)
   libgdk_pixbuf-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgdk_pixbuf-2.0.so.0 (0xb75b9000)
   libpangoxft-1.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libpangoxft-1.0.so.0 (0xb75b2000)
   libpangox-1.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libpangox-1.0.so.0 (0xb75a7000)
   libXft.so.2 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXft.so.2 (0xb7594000)
   libX11.so.6 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libX11.so.6 (0xb7498000)
   libXrender.so.1 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXrender.so.1 (0xb748f000)
   libfontconfig.so.1 => /usr/lib/libfontconfig.so.1 (0xb7461000)
   libexpat.so.0 => /usr/lib/libexpat.so.0 (0xb7442000)
   libpangoft2-1.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libpangoft2-1.0.so.0 (0xb741c000)
   libpango-1.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libpango-1.0.so.0 (0xb73e4000)
   libgobject-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgobject-2.0.so.0 (0xb73b0000)
   libgmodule-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libgmodule-2.0.so.0 (0xb73ab000)
   libglib-2.0.so.0 => /opt/gnome/lib/libglib-2.0.so.0 (0xb732b000)
   libfreetype.so.6 => /usr/lib/libfreetype.so.6 (0xb72bc000)
   libperl.so => /usr/lib/perl5/5.8.6/i586-linux-thread-multi/CORE/libperl.so (0xb717e000)
   libnsl.so.1 => /lib/libnsl.so.1 (0xb7169000)
   libcrypt.so.1 => /lib/libcrypt.so.1 (0xb7137000)
   libutil.so.1 => /lib/libutil.so.1 (0xb7132000)
   libgc.so.1 => /usr/lib/libgc.so.1 (0xb7104000)
   libpthread.so.0 => /lib/tls/libpthread.so.0 (0xb70f2000)
   libdl.so.2 => /lib/libdl.so.2 (0xb70ee000)
   libm.so.6 => /lib/tls/libm.so.6 (0xb70cb000)
   libc.so.6 => /lib/tls/libc.so.6 (0xb6fb2000)
   libgcc_s.so.1 => /lib/libgcc_s.so.1 (0xb6fa9000)
   libXrandr.so.2 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXrandr.so.2 (0xb6fa5000)
   libXi.so.6 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXi.so.6 (0xb6f9d000)
   libXinerama.so.1 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXinerama.so.1 (0xb6f99000)
   libXfixes.so.3 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXfixes.so.3 (0xb6f94000)
   libXcursor.so.1 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXcursor.so.1 (0xb6f8b000)
   libXext.so.6 => /usr/X11R6/lib/libXext.so.6 (0xb6f7d000)
   /lib/ld-linux.so.2 (0xb7fea000)


All the libs listed above would need to installed to build/run inkscape.

As we get further into the discussion about the LXFC distro it may be worth while for each of us to go and read Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch. These are excellent sources for how to build a Linux system. It may not be the only way to do it, but it's the only thing I've seen on the subject. The link is here;

http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/

Happy reading folks and see you all Monday :wink:
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Postby Erin » Thu Aug 25, 2005 9:43 pm

My hope is to steer clear of all GNOME/KDE apps and Qt based stuff. It is not to say no but we are after light and non-enterprise (always want to sing Star Trekin' with that) rather than bloat. Productivity due to careful app selection and not the norm as the norm is boring and done to death.

Obviusly it is all up for discussion and I would guess some of GNOME and KDE will no doubt make the cut. X.org is likely but Nano-X might be worth a look.

Don't forget all, 29th Aug, 10AM BST, any OFTC IRC server on channel #lxfc for open discussion re the project from goals to breadth of project.

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Postby jjmac » Fri Aug 26, 2005 11:23 am

Howdy All :)


From the above draft proposal:
>>
The intention is to produce a Linux distribution that is: lightweight; does not
rely on mainstream applications (apps) or window managers (WM); is built as an
end product of a learning experience through production of documentation, scripts,
app selection and the whole process to delivery. It should be considered the
distro is not the significant deliverable but merely the final goal.
>>

I figued the key part there was,

>>
... as an end product of a learning experiance ...
It should be considered the distro is not the significant deliverable but merely the final goal...
>>


I like some gnome apps, and some kde ... it's just the tie in with a wm/state dependant environment that dosen't sit well with me ... aka ... how come they don't accept Xt commands/switches and don't use a straight forward /etc/config ,,,~/config to maintain state (howling_in_the_wind.png).

I thought the point was to demangle the whole distro process ???. How to get a base system up and running and then how to go about adding non OS dependent apps ... aka ... user apps. Like --- the initial ram disk creation, partitioning or not to partition, hw probing etc. In other words -=- a learning experiance involving the exploritory surgury of an "Installer". I have secretly wanted to get my scaple into one of those buggers for a long time now (grin). I was thinking of some sought of installer that itself didn't have any actual payload functionality. Only performing an administrative task, such as scrutinising the status returns of "hook" routines that are referenced by a kind of call-back type function process.

That way, all of the issues concerning what is to be installed, and what actions are to be done ... would be external, in seperate translation units. And so be maintainable [ read: able to be fixed when radical errors are noticed :) ].

There's a whole journey there in itself. And it avoids the whole concern of what to include or what not to include. Thats just an external translation unit issue. Hopefully only involving --- editing a list !.

I was figuring that the creation of a distro would just be one of those things that would occure anyway. In that it couldn't really be helped (grin). As a kind of natural follower.

I'm very interested in those underlying structural issues. Maybe i'm a bit over critical but i haven't meet an installer yet that hasn't pissed me off .. to varying degrees. If it ain't an installer page that i can't read because the fonts are to small, it's a fight with the partitioning/loader page. It wants to stick a loader on my mbr --- i want it somewhere else !, or i don't want it cause there's already one there :roll:. I thinks to my self... a dialog that asked if these fonts were ok "Y/N" ... if "N", the up a few pixels, loop till a "Y" is detected. But then... is there some issue with a fb vga graphic state that prevents that ?. I don't know , but hope to find out.

Even the Ubuntu installer (lxf68), though very good, does cause suffering. Iv'e been rotating through it over the last week, and keep changing my opinion (grin). Once in, the distro tryed to tell me i had a bad super block on a partition ... bullocks, fsck gave it a clean pass, my main install mounted it with out problems ... i reformated it from with in Ubuntu and that made it happy:roll: ... Ever get the feeling something funny's going on sometimes (grin). It also said my partitions had strange errors -=-=-=- but __did not mention__ what they may be. Could have been the extended was set active rather than a straight primary (grin) ... dos/win dosen't like that but they can go bugger. Nothing was wrong, and it wasn't going to say what it thought was strange, it was quite happy to just leave me with a paranoid doubt that something may be wrong. Luckily i __knew__ nothing was (grin), but a few years ago i would have been concerned !. Thats an installer bug in my book. It is it's job to assist, which involves ... to "inform and comunicate". I think the only problem it had was me taking control away from it and not following a standard prefered install path .. which left it with some unset "state" variables that it didn't know how to interpret. It was "custom" mode after all.

so, i was thinking that by pulling all those aspects appart, which will take up quite a loooong period really ... people will be able to remaster their own disks and thus create their own custom distros. The distro couldn't but help but to follow such a process.

The other side to this particular slant involves the management system. That would be nice to work out as well. Like debs and rpms co-existing. hmmmmm, well, maybe hehe, not exactly easy though i'm sure :).

In any case, that will be how i intend to approach all this. As far as what apps are included, i don't particuarly care. Even considering it, seems to give it a feeling of being static and confined from the start. Maybe the LVM mind space would be good to include in that regard :). With a good, flexible, hook based "Installe" and a easy to use packaging system ... well, wouldn't all the rest become trivial ?.

Well ... thats enough rant for me for the time being (grin) ... :)


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Postby towy71 » Mon Aug 29, 2005 7:03 am

A reminder that there is an IRC get together at 10 A.M. BST this morning, hope to see all interested parties ;-)
server: irc.oftc.net on channel #lxfc for open discussion
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Postby jjmac » Mon Aug 29, 2005 8:52 pm

looks like i got the date wrong, the box clock seems to be a day out :)
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