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Summary of the workshop on CDDs held in Valencia

Hi all,

this a first  report  of  what  happened  in that amazing   city named
Valencia during  the   workshop  on  Custom and   Derivative    Debian
Distributions. It  is just a summary of  what happened and I'd suggest
to discuss specific issues by spawning dedicated threads.

First of  all let me thank Sergio  Talens-Oliag and Jordi  Mallach for
having made  this event  possible and  for  the warm hospitality  they
showed us.

What follow is a summary  of what emerged  not only during the  actual
workshop, which was held in the Museo de las Artes y las Ciencias, but
also   in the  many  conversations we  had in   the breaks and  in the

If  you notice that any information  is missing, wrong or not precise,
please feel free to reply correcting it.

Last but not least, a preliminary  collection of pictures of the event
can be viewed here:


++++                     General information                      ++++

The meeting on Custom and Derivatives Debian Distributions was part of
the  I Congreso Software Libre organised  by  the Comunidad Valenciana
[0],  which  main  goal has  been to  be  a forum  for discussing  the
prospectives and  the experiences of the  use of  the Free Software in
the educational system.

Most noticeably  during the congress the  LliureX project [1] has been
officially announced.

Furthermore the  presence of Richard  Stallman from the  Free Software
Foundation and Jon  Hall from Linux  International contributed  to the
visibility of the event.

++++                  Who attended the workshop                   ++++

Here follows  an alphabetically   ordered  list of the  Custom  Debian
Distributions who were present in Valencia, along with some very brief
information about them.

Name:         Debian-Med
URL:          http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-med/
Attendants:   Andreas Tille
Committee:    Voluntary project
Target users: Professional   and  researchers  working  in the medical

Debian-Med is and official CDD, fully integrated inside Debian.

However Andreas explained that in many cases the free software medical
applications currently available are not yet ready for real life work,
probably due to the lack of the right users/developers critical mass.

The current  strategy of Debian-Med   is to gather all the  interested
parties and grow  little by little  until it's  possible to  provide a
proof-of-concept product, which  may   worth  the interest  of    some
institution or company.

Name:         AGNULA/DeMuDi
URL:          http://www.agnula.org
Attendants:   Free Ekanayaka
Committee:    Formerly  funded  by    the  European  Commission,   now
              voluntary  project  economically supported by    Firenze
              Tecnologia [3]
Target users: Musicians, researchers, audio professionals

Currently a semi-official CDD, in the  sense that part of the packages
are already  in    Debian  and a    Debian  Multimedia  mailing   list
exists. Free Ekanayaka is in the process to  become a Debian Developer
and once he gets in  he'll upload to Debian the  rest of his packages.
Moreover  he is closely  following the debian-custom mailing list, and
working to improve the  cdd-dev  package and  make the  A/DeMuDi  meta
packages compliant with the emerging CDD guidelines.

Name:         Guadalinex
URL:          http://www.guadalinex.org/
Attendants:   Javier Vinuales, Teofilo Ruiz Suarez
Committee:    Junta de Andalucia
Target users: All the citizens of the Andalucia district (Spain)

The distribution was born  after  that the Andalucia local  government
established   a legal  background to  regulate   the adoption of  Free
Software by the public administration system. Guadalinex is already at
its 1.0 release and enjoys the support of the local government, who is
pushing to spread it on the whole area.

The focus is on the political and social  aspects of the process, more
than on the   distribution itself, and  a  considerable amount of  the
effort concerns reaching a consensus among the local realities.

It's not   and official  CDD  and its    contributions are  not  fully
integrated   in  Debian. However   Javier   and Teo   are both  Debian
Developers and are aware of   the  importance of establishing   common
methods and technologies to create Debian derivatives.

Name:         LinEx
URL:          http://www.linex.org/
Attendants:   Nobody from the LinEx  project was actually present, but
              Alvaro del Castillo from Lambdaux [2], who is very close
              to them, was able to attend the 2nd day of the workshop.
Committee:    Extremadura Regional Government
Target users: Students  and teachers   of all    the schools of    the
              Estremadura district (Spain)

The distribution is currently widely adopted in the educational system
of Estremadura.

The two main developers are not  affiliated with Debian, and since now
had few  contacts  with it.   However  Alvaro reported   that they are
interested in establishing a  tighter relationship with Debian in  the
future,  and the debian-custom   mailing list as  been addressed  as a
possible bridge between them and Debian.

Name:         LlureX
URL:          http://www.lliurex.net/
Attendants:   Sergio Talens-Oliag, Jordi  Mallach
Committee:    Conselleria de  Cultura,   Educaci=F3n  y  Deporte   de  la
              Generalitat Valenciana
Target users: Students  and teachers   of all    the schools of    the
              Valencia district (Spain)

The project is   just started and, after  a  study and experimentation
period with possible    demo releases, will  provide a   first  stable
release by September 2005.

Sergio and  Jordi are  both  Debian Developers, with  the intention is
ideally  to build a fully  Debian compliant  official CDD. However due
their  time  constraints and   to  the not mature   state of  the CDDs
framework,  they  may possibly need  to divert  from Debian in special

++++                           Talks                              ++++

Here follows a summary  of the talks given  by the attendants from the
various CDD.

All the speakers have tried to be as concise as possible in presenting
the   peculiarities  of  the  respective  distributions,  while rather
concentrating to those issues they faced which might  be common to all

Speaker: Andreas Tille
When:    May 6th, afternoon
Slides:  http://people.debian.org/~tille/debian-med/talks/200405_valencia/i=

This  first  talk  was an   introduction  survey on   the  CDDs, which
basically summarise a more extensive work on the subject [4].

As it was targeted to a general audience this session was attended not
only by the people invited to the workshop, but also by persons new to
the CDD concept.

Andreas introduced the concept of CDD  as the effort of  to not make a
separate  distribution but     rather make  Debian   fit for   special
purpose. Then he outlined the status of  the official CDDs and finally
exposed the techniques currently available to develop a CDD.

Speaker: Free Ekanayaka
When:    May 7th, morning
Slides:  http://www.miu-ft.org/~free/200405-valencia/AGNULA-DeMuDi_presenta=

The second  day  of the workshop  was  explicitly devoted  to in depth
analysis and discussion of technical issues.

Free's talk started with  a presentation of AGNULA/DeMuDi, along  with
brief comments on some issues possibly  relevant to the other CDDs, in
particular the  need   to  rebuild packages, partially    forking from

Then he  proposed  an operative definition  for  the  concept CDD  and
finally he described the  debconf pre-feeding approach for customising
Debian packages, providing some real life examples.

Speaker: Javier Vinuales
When:    May 7th, morning
Slides:  http://www.miu-ft.org/~free/200405-valencia/adaptando_debian_a_sab=

After   a brief   presentation    of the Guadalinex  project,   Javier
introduced the issue  of  the Debian  release system, which  currently
makes difficult for a CDD to base its releases on Debian stable.

Then he described some   possible modifications to the  Debian archive
and release system,  which are partly  mentioned in  Andreas' document
on the CDDs [5].

Speaker: Sergio Talens-Oliag
When:    May 7th, afternoon
Slides:  Speech only

Sergio described  the goals of  the LlureX project and the interaction
that the developers  will have with  some teachers of various subjects
which are part of the LlureX team as well.

Andreas   asked     him      about  the     relationship    with   the
Skolelinux/Debian-Edu project, and he explained that they are going to
study and    reuse   Skolelinux/Debian-Edu work   whenever   possible,
furthermore the  LlureX team is willing  to try to  cooperate with any
similar project. However the  need of  a having separate  distribution
still holds, partly because  of some issues related  with localisation
and partly because the included applications may divert.

Then   Sergio went into the question   of the Debian release/archiving
system and  the implications it has on  some important issues,  as the
need for LlureX  to have deadlines  and independent releases, with the
relative stable updates. He analysed the possibility of maintaining an
external (i.e. non-Debian)  APT repository as a temporary  workaround,
waiting  for  better   implementations of the   Debian release/archive

Finally he discussed the  various alternatives to build  a live CD. In
particular he compared the  Debix [6] and  the Knoppix [7] approaches,
highlight that whatever technology  is chosen the most important thing
for the CDDs is to have  common tools to  automatically carry out this
task, without reinventing the wheel every time.

++++                      Open issues                             ++++

Here follows a  not exhaustive list of  the main issues  which emerged
orthogonally  in all talks  and  conversations and  that  need further
reports and discussion.

o Debconf pre-feeding approach for customising packages
o Improvements to the current Debian archive/release system
o Easy creation of custom Live CDs and installers

As these  are wide topics I'll let separate post to cover them.

[0] http://www.lliurex.net/congres/cas/
[1] http://www.lliurex.net/
[2] http://www.lambdaux.com
[3] http://www.firenzetecnologia.it/
[4] http://people.debian.org/~tille/debian-med/talks/paper-cdd/debian-cdd.h=tml/=20
[5] http://people.debian.org/~tille/debian-med/talks/paper-cdd/debian-cdd.h=tml/ch-todo.en.html#s-new_ways_of_distribution
[6] http://debix.alioth.debian.org/
[7] http://www.knoppix.net

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