Home Brewed Distros

Comments, suggestions and questions about Linux Format magazine and the coverdiscs

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Would a distro building tutorial interest you?

Poll ended at Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:28 pm

Yes
14
93%
No
1
7%
 
Total votes : 15

RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby A-Wing » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:34 am

FC4 minimal only uses the first CD too I believe.
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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby Erin » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:43 am

I still vote for LXFC distro. Home rolled.

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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby Debianbofh » Fri Aug 12, 2005 10:10 am

The proble with these single disc distros is that they leave you searching for the packages you want individually, but Debian is very reasonable when installing the system and apps. What would be good is a system where you could install the OS and your required apps, then master this to removable media. But in the mag I would like to see a series taking a system from nothing, through to a working minimal system, through to a system with a working x server and GUI. A big project, but should be worthwhile.
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Re: RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:08 am

A-Wing wrote:FC4 minimal only uses the first CD too I believe.


FC4 will install a complete desktop from the first CD.
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Re: RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:09 am

Debianbofh wrote:What would be good is a system where you could install the OS and your required apps, then master this to removable media.


Like Gentoo's catalyst tool, that builds a live/installation CD from an installed distro?
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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby Debianbofh » Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:09 pm

Yeah, debian does this, but debian has the problem of being HUGE if you want to download the whole lot. Single CD distros are easy enough to install, but lack much of the specialist software which many people need. A good balance would be to use a system where "sets" of software can be downloaded. A good improvement to the debian iso's would be the ablity to master extra package discs yourself, thus allowing you to create a CD or two which contains all the software you need installed. Anyway, a series on building a system from scratch up to having a functional x environment would bee sweet.
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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby jjmac » Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:22 pm

Erin wrote:
>>
Right, have had an idea which would benefit all I think. It is superb. Well, okay anyway.
.
.
.
Nelz asks why build a distro from scratch. Let's build, as a community,
.
.
.
carefully, gain a wider appreciation of computing, group working, documentation writing and give our knowledge back to the community as a whole.
>>

Very well put, sounds jut like something the Murdocks would have thought up :)


Nelz
>>
Yes... well, really :)

You can't take on a task like this without proper planning, and you can plan until you know what you are trying to achieve. However, "because I can" is as good an answer as any, as long as you understand that.
>>

I wasn't disbuting the need to plan, but i don't think the planning would need to be complete before it was started. As the goal would be just the exercise in a basic distro creation, something not requiring any particular immediate use. When you mentioned the need to identify those requirements ... it sounded like something that was going to be done with a particular distribution target in mind. Such as the type of people it would be aimed at, whether it would be for the desktop or for the enterprise, howmuch automation would be needed etc. which to me seemed unnessary. I would hope that the inevitable question ... which wm to use "Kde Gnome or Otheres" wouldn't really come into it. Though some multi X startup proceedeures probably would to cover that. But as a generic expression that could be used as a template for other focuses, even a multi X starup provision would make sense.. So, what apps would be used wouldn't really be important, that could all be left for later. I tend to envision it as something more along the lines of putting a basic gentoo 1st stage together, then getting it on to a disc, then regoing over it and expanding as seen fit. With the focus more along the lines of how the different parts fit together and why. A bit like a directory walk program ... something that just finds the basement then walks back up the branch(s), with out missing any node but not actually doing anything else. Like playing scales. Not to exciting in itself, but really handy wire frame that can have other functionality hanging of it. All soughts of different pay loads can be added to the part that finds the terminating nodes on the walk back up.

A distro creation project would be an exercise in sustained cooperation though, wouldn't it. (grin), maybe a bit risky for that reason. What ever happened to the "Building a Compiler" tutorial ... i think i lost touch with that.



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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby Erin » Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:36 pm

I'm Rupert's long lost love child and token PR man!

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RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby M-Saunders » Fri Aug 12, 2005 1:55 pm

Hrm, I've been thinking about this for a few hours now. It's certainly a fascinating idea -- LXF writers, readers and website regulars collaborating to varying degrees on a distro. Personally, I'm thinking along the same lines as jjmac; we wouldn't be able to make a world-changingly original distro, and there are already a bajillion for every scenario. So focusing on learning about the technical aspects, and working together as a community to make a fairly simple distro, would be best.

It'd still be a pretty mammoth undertaking though. We'd need a bit of planning in terms of: who'd write the installer (or simple install script), who'd package the latest version of FooApp, and so forth. Basically, I can think of cool ways we could integrate it all with some mag tutorials and this website, but (and it's a big but!) it'd be a mess if everyone lost interest in a month or two...

*scratches chin and thinks more*

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Re: RE: Re: RE: Home Brewed Distros

Postby nelz » Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:34 pm

Debianbofh wrote:Yeah, debian does this, but debian has the problem of being HUGE if you want to download the whole lot. Single CD distros are easy enough to install, but lack much of the specialist software which many people need. A good balance would be to use a system where "sets" of software can be downloaded.


Why not install a base system (including desktop if you want it) from the first CD. Then let apt-get download anything else you need as you install it. If you have the bandwidth to download complete CDs, you can download individual apps.
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Postby mugstar » Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:45 pm

Count me in. I can't write scripts for toffee, but I'll certainly volunteer to package apps.

A couple of things I think we'll need to sort out *before* starting anything: firstly, some sort of voting mechanism to make decisions (e.g. what goes in and what gets left out); and secondly, who gets to be Benevolent Dictator For Life and have the final say.

Once we've done that, then the flamefests can start properly :lol:
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Postby M-Saunders » Fri Aug 12, 2005 2:59 pm

mugstar wrote:A couple of things I think we'll need to sort out *before* starting anything: firstly, some sort of voting mechanism to make decisions (e.g. what goes in and what gets left out); and secondly, who gets to be Benevolent Dictator For Life and have the final say.

Once we've done that, then the flamefests can start properly :lol:


Hah :-) Well, ideally it'd be as community-ish as possible, but because it's something that'd be done over the Net and tying-in with this Website, the official 'LXF guy in charge' would probably be yours truly.

And that kinda goes back to what I was saying before -- it's a great idea, and could work really well if many of us got involved and shared the load. However, I fear there could be a loss of interest in a month or two, and I'd be left to do everything -- especially if it's linked to a mag tutorial series and sub-website etc.

This is all just early musings, and who knows how it'd turn out. If we're sure we could sustain it and get a good number of people involved, I think it'd be worth doing. But it is risky.

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Postby Erin » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:07 pm

M-Saunders wrote:
mugstar wrote:A couple of things I think we'll need to sort out *before* starting anything: firstly, some sort of voting mechanism to make decisions (e.g. what goes in and what gets left out); and secondly, who gets to be Benevolent Dictator For Life and have the final say.

Once we've done that, then the flamefests can start properly :lol:


Hah :-) Well, ideally it'd be as community-ish as possible, but because it's something that'd be done over the Net and tying-in with this Website, the official 'LXF guy in charge' would probably be yours truly.

And that kinda goes back to what I was saying before -- it's a great idea, and could work really well if many of us got involved and shared the load. However, I fear there could be a loss of interest in a month or two, and I'd be left to do everything -- especially if it's linked to a mag tutorial series and sub-website etc.

This is all just early musings, and who knows how it'd turn out. If we're sure we could sustain it and get a good number of people involved, I think it'd be worth doing. But it is risky.

Mike


Well back to my idea earlier on, lets make it all non-usual packages and use a repository, like Debian, to fill in the user's selection. We only want a base system with X, some simple tools and a way of improving the user's options. Simple stuff like Xfce, nano, Raven, some DB etc. We could crack on with the tuts starting in nine months. At least that gives the LXF staff a coppout if all goes belly up.

We would need to build the website, docs and so it goes far further than just the distro. The aim isn't to be the next Red Hat either. Just go for the biggest lurning curve with as much fun and value for all.

Mike, how can we sort out organising some prelim talks?

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Postby mugstar » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:14 pm

the official 'LXF guy in charge' would probably be yours truly.

Now just hold on a minute! Who appointed *you* BDFL? :wink: :lol:

The loss of interest thing is obviously a risk, as you say. But there are a lot of people who have frequented this site for years, giving time & experience freely. It's probably the same with any small distro - a hardcore few in it for the long haul while others drop in and out. Even if it all fscks up in the end, then there'll be mistakes there to *learn* from. Battle honours, so to speak.

I'm not so much interested in the end product (Debian is all the distro I need just now) but I'm sure I'd learn a lot from the taking part.
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Postby M-Saunders » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:18 pm

As in, make a pretty bare-bones distro that's Debianish enough to flesh out with .debs later on? That could work really well, if I'm following you correctly.

"Mike, how can we sort out organising some prelim talks?"

Well, I'll talk to Nick and Paul about it, to see if it's feasible (they'll probably think of other problems I hadn't considered!). It may be too risky or complex to consider right now. But if it looks doable to some degree, we can begin by starting a new thread, getting people on board and taking it from there!

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