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Ubuntu and CDDs


I sent the last announcement of Canonical to -custom because it's the
area of Debian where I see a richer-than-most area for
collaboration. As you can/have seen (Andreas replied on -devel)
Canonical has released the preview version of it's derived
distribution called "Ubuntu."  If you missed it, I've attached the
announcement to -devel to this email.

This morning, I wrote short piece on Ubuntu, CDDs, and the potential
for collaboration and some of the potential hurdles I thought this
presented. I posted this on my blog and that those of you that read
planet.debian.org may have already seen it. I've attached that little
article to this email. Feel free to follow up here.

You can also read that piece and leave comments on my blog:

On a totally unrelated note, I'm anxious to hear about the outcome(s)
from the CDD workshop in Florence! Please keep all of us not fortunate
enough to go filled in! :)


Benjamin Mako Hill
--- Begin Message ---
Some of you may remember us from our previous announcement and
communications related to the website www.no-name-yet.com.  Before we get to
the good stuff, I'm pleased to announce that we are nameless no more... the
name of our distribution will be "Ubuntu" (read below for details) and the
company supporting the project is Canonical Ltd.

Ubuntu is a new Linux distribution that brings together the breadth of
Debian with a focused selection of packages, regular releases (every six
months) and a commitment to 18 months of security and technical support for
every release.

This message is to announce Ubuntu's first public release:

      Ubuntu 4.10 Preview (codenamed the Warty Warthog -- or just "warty") 

If you know all about this and just want to get the CD, you can find out
everything you need to know about getting it here (read on though, as
there's some other good information in this mail including information on
getting Ubuntu CDs shipped to you free of charge):


If you're interested in the code, a standard Debian-style package archive is
available here:


For more information, you can turn to any of the following resources:

Ubuntu Website: http://www.ubuntulinux.org

      The website contains a bunch of basic background on Ubuntu, an
overview of the project, information on how to get it, and some
documentation for the software. 

Ubuntu Wiki: http://wiki.ubuntulinux.org

      The wiki contains most of the information and documentation on Ubuntu
that the team has written as they've worked up until now, including a FAQ.
Anybody is welcome to edit and add to the wiki although they will need to
log in first. You log in by clicking on UserPreferences in the top right
hand corner of the page. 

Ubuntu IRC Channel: #ubuntu on irc.freenode.net

      Anyone is welcome to join the Ubuntu IRC channel for help and
discussion about Ubuntu and the Warty Warthog release. We aim to keep the
signal-to-noise ratio as high as possible on that channel and on any mailing
lists in the project. 

Ubuntu Mailing Lists:

      Follow any of these URLs to subscribe to the list, view archives, or
to change subscription options if you are already subscribed.

Ubuntu Announcement List (Ultra-Low Traffic): http://lists.ubuntulinux.org/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-announce
Ubuntu User List: http://lists.ubuntulinux.org/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-users
Ubuntu Development List: http://lists.ubuntulinux.org/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-devel 

Last but not least, we will gladly ship you a few CDs of Ubuntu at no cost
when Warty Warthog is released -- we expect that by the end of October. To
receive a complimentary copy of the Warty Warthog release on CD -- or a
handful to give to your friends or LUG register online at:


Warty Warthog Features

    * Simple and FAST Installation
            Ubuntu comes on one single CD, with thousands of extra packages
available online. The install is optimised for speed and simplicity. Ubuntu
has excellent support for laptops (both x86 based and Powerbook / iBook PPC
based), and can also be setup in a minimalist server configuration. 

    * GNOME 2.8
            Ubuntu is the first distribution to ship Gnome 2.8, on the day
of its release - be the first on your street to try it out! 

    * Firefox 0.9
            We plan to include Firefox 1.0 for the gold release of Warty
Warthog in October. 

    * First class productivity software
            Evolution 2.0 and OpenOffice.org 1.1.2 

    * XFree86 4.3 with improved hardware support
            Our XFree86 packages have been updated to support plenty of new
hardware. We also have worked hard to detect as much hardware as possible,
simplifying the X install considerably. We plan to ship X.org with our next
release, due in April 2005. 


 - mdz

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--- End Message ---
                     Ubuntu and Custom Debian Distributions

   [ For the record, I am speaking for myself and not for Ubuntu, Debian-NP,
   Debian, or anyone else. ]

   I have a vision for Debian; rather, I have a number of (sometimes
   contradictory) visions. One idea that I've fussed a lot about over the
   last couple years is Custom Debian Distributions. I have helped make a few
   things happen in one little corner of the CDD world (Debian-Nonprofit) but
   haven't been as active as I'd like in the general CDD framework yet except
   through advocacy.

   The idea behind a Custom Debian Distribution is, to borrow Enrico Zini's
   terminology, to be global and local at the same time: to create an OS and
   set of applications that is targeted to a specific group of people and to
   contribute and collaborate within a larger community in a way that lets
   people without interest in that niche group benefit and for you to benefit
   from the work of people without interest in that niche. This is basically
   what Bdale Garbee talked about when he was talking about flavors in [1]his
   2003 DPL platform. I suspect people are hanging on to their
   one-flavor-fits-all model because they haven't seen a compelling
   implementation of an alternative. I think that its the job of those of us
   that are sold on the idea to give them one (Thanks to everyone that has
   and continues to work on this in the CDD community).

   Now as a few people know, I'm complicit in this whole [2]Ubuntu
   Conspiracy. When Mark Shuttleworth first approached me about the project,
   the first thing I thought about was Custom Debian Distributions. I wasn't,
   and am still, not exactly sure how those things relate exactly.

   I was (and continue to be) tempted to think of a spectrum of "Debianness"
   with officially blessed Debian releases at the center, testing and
   unstable slightly outside of that, CDDs farther outside but just within
   the circle of what's "officially" Debian, Ubuntu beyond that trying its
   best to hug the line, LinEx y sus hermanas in there somewhere, and Lindows
   almost on the periphery of our vision denying -- to some but not all --
   that its on the spectrum at all.

   But it's not that simple.

   From a technical perspective, it's manageable. Ignoring project
   affiliation and institutional relationships, we might say that CDDs are
   about creating and maintaining a derived version of Debian over time and
   in way that offers all changes back to the pool of Debian (Debian won't
   take all). Forking in the traditional sense is one thing -- and it's
   relatively easy; going out of your way to share and collaborate within the
   Debian community is one way to define a CDD.

   So it's simple if we, for the moment, think of Debian as a single
   monolithic blob -- forget subprojects and CDDs. We can break the goals of
   a any Debian derivation down into three basic types of customization:

     * Package selection: Which software in Debian does the deriver want to
     * Package configuration: What configuration changes does a deriver want
       to include (anything you can do with debconf/cfengine)?
     * Package replacement (for lack of a better term): What packages does a
       derivative want to ship that has diverged from the package in Debian
       in terms of code (bug fixes, features, whatever)?

   The problem (for my simplified model for explaining Debian derivatives --
   I don't think it's a problem in general) is that some people are working
   within this framework in ways that are visibly connected to the Debian
   community and some people are not and don't want to be. Basically, Debian
   is whole lot more complex than just a ball of code.

   In Jeff Licquia's blog, he mentioned that Ubuntu is a fork. In a way he's
   correct and in a way he's not. I think part of the problem is that
   "Debian" refers to a long list of things. Just to start we've got:

     * Debian: the group of volunteers;
     * Debian: the "project" with a Constitution, leader, and decision making
     * Debian: the ball of code (But which ball of code? Stuff on Alioth?
       Stuff in contrib? Stuff in the Debian-NP archive?);
     * Debian: the infrastructure that runs the code together;
     * Debian: the shared goals and the action of sharing (you share within
       the Debian community -- you are part of Debian);

   This creates problems and uncertainty that we in the CDD community has
   been grappling with for a long time: Is Debian-Nonprofit Debian? Can any
   CDD really be Debian?

   Of course, coming from the Debian community, the CDD community began with
   the answer ("yes") and then went about trying to create and argue a
   justification. We've even defined the technology based on what would or
   would not allow us to honestly call ourselves "Debian" and have attempted
   to grasp onto definitions of "Debian" that make that possible. Debian-NP
   and every CDD is still trying to figure out what it means to be Debian and
   Debian-NP at the same time -- how does one strike that balance?

   Ubuntu starts out with an answer as well. Ubuntu is not Debian and I
   suspect this is what Jeff was referring to. Ubuntu wants to do things that
   Debian can't, won't, or just isn't all that good at and thare is great
   room for synthesis here.

   My concern is that the political side of things -- the "who is Debian and
   who is not" -- risks driving a wedge between the technologies being used
   by those customizing Debian from the inside and from the outside. People
   don't work together because they are "not part of the same project" when
   they have every technical and strategic reason to collaborate.

   Basically, I think we should let Debian stand for something political: an
   organization. When it comes to code, I think we should forget about this
   and find creative ways to work together.

   I want to see Ubuntu, Progeny and the other Debian derivers work closely
   with the Debian derivers within Debian. I want this work to lead to
   systems of common infrastructure that makes applying the the different
   types of customization something resembling a standard. That's only going
   to happen if we all try. That doesn't mean there will be One True Way --
   there won't. It does means that everyone is going to have to be flexible.
   I think ultimately, it will be worth it.


   Visible links
   1. http://www.debian.org/vote/2003/platforms/bdale
   2. http://www.ubuntulinux.org/

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