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Re: Any news about Blends in tasks selection (Was: Debian Installer Jessie Beta 2 release)

Hi Cyril,

On Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 06:02:11AM +0200, Cyril Brulebois wrote:
> Hi Andreas,
> Andreas Tille <andreas@an3as.eu> (2014-10-08):
> > On Sun, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:11:24PM +0200, Cyril Brulebois wrote:
> > > The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the second beta
> > > release of the installer for Debian 8 "Jessie".
> > > ...
> >  
> > thanks for your report and your continuous work on the installer.
> > 
> > I wonder what might be the opinion of the installer team about bug
> > #758116 which contains the suggestion to add Blends to the tasks
> > selection menu and whether we could do something to help with the
> > implementation.  The bug report received a lot of agreement from people
> > working in different Blends but only one question[1] of Joey Hess
> > probably wearing his tasksel maintainer hat.  For me it is not clear
> > whether this is an issue of deciding what Blend to include (Joey's
> > question was targeting into this direction) or whether you hesitate to
> > implement this at all.  Since it is not clear whether you think this
> > kind of menu is sensible or not we did not yet mindet providing patches
> > or so to support your work.  Some kind of statement could be motivating
> > to provide more work on the technical side.
> > 
> > Kind regards and thanks again for your work on the installer
> > 
> >      Andreas.
> > 
> > [1] https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=758116#140
> well to be honest the whole blend story came as a surprise.

Ahhh, this in turn is surprising for me since the first "version" of
this bug is dated 24 Mar 2003 (#186085) :-).  But I agree that Blends
are not widely known even if I was proactively running around since
more than ten years telling people
  "Is there a topic in Debian you care about? Create a Blend today!"
as Asheesh advised me in last years DebConf talk[1 - just see the
linked subtitles text to save time - it is *very* speaking for the
whole topic!]

In other words:  I perfectly know the fact that Blends are widely
ignored even amongst Debian developers and that's not about you / the
debian-boot team - perhaps my "running around and tell people" is just
not the right way to convince people.  At least I can tell that those
people who were listening started to like the idea [see 1].

> I think we identified quite early in the release cycle that we would
> need to finally do something about the desktop situation (which first
> landed in D-I Jessie Beta 2).

Well, Blends and "the desktop situation" could be considered orthogonal.
The main goal of a Blend is not primarily to tweak the desktop (even if
this could be done).  It is rather about the applications.  In Debian
Med we even have a cluster task which contains exclusively those
packages which can be run without a graphical desktop (bio-cloud [2]).
> Blends were first mentioned during a DC'14 talk in late August.

To be precise:  Blends (formerly Custom Debian Distributions - yes, I'm
*not* responsible for this broken name :-() was mentioned on *any*
DebConf I joined with exception of DebConf 0 where this idea was not yet
born.  If you scroll down my talks page[3] you stumble upon DebConf 1 in
Bordeaux 2001 as first time presenting the idea on a DebConf.  Any of my
talks raised the question, whether there is a menu in the installer to
a) get an easy installation method and b) propagate the Blends concept
(which is obviously needed).  It might have been the fault of people who
care about Blends that they did not approached the Debian Boot team
earlier, yes.  The reason why at least I stayed away from this since
2003 (#186085) was that I have seen little chances to change the
refusal.  However, since recently some Blends of some more general
interest like Debian Games and Debian GIS started or gained some
traktion resp.  the idea came up to rise this question on IRC in the
DebConf talk.

> At the
> moment my personal feeling about this is that it looks a bit late, and
> I'm almost certainly not going to drive such changes myself.

I perfectly agree that you as the one person army keeping Debian Boot
alive (hey, do you like the Blends born idea to prove this point[4]??)
should not spend extra time cycles into the implementation.

> I don't
> have any strong incentive to prevent other people from working on this
> though. (Of course, any work should happen sooner than later.)

That's in fact a quite motivating incentive and I perfectly agree that
we really should start rather yesterday than today.  The thing is that
it is not really clear to me, what we should do rather than adding the


(multimedia-tasks is not ready according to their maintainer[5]) to the
boot disks.

Joey Hess as tasksel maintainer mentioned "limited amount of space in
tasksel for blends" but this does not give a sensible hint of what exact
action we should do now.  I think currently eight additional lines is
not that much.  I also totally contradict to Joey's statement "The
'Debian Pure Blends' effort has been around for several releases and
been publicised." and I take [1] as sufficient argument that it is not
the case.  Blends were never ever regarded in practice as some Debian
internal thing and *every* time when I talk about Blends on conferences
and in private discussions I will be asked:  "Why don't you do this cool
stuff right into Debian instead of a derivative?"  It would *really*
help in this kind of discussion to point to the Debian installer ...

So if we would get some helping hand what exactly technically needs to
be done, we could try to come up with some solution.
> Of course, if blends support ends up not being merged for Jessie, I'm
> very sorry for people having participated in the discussion and their
> false hope. :(

Well, after more than ten years work on this the time of "false hope" is
over. ;-)  I'm really happy about the "no incentive to prevent other
people from working on this".  Perhaps some slight hint - perhaps even
from Joey - would help to get this done.

Kind regards


[1] http://meetings-archive.debian.net/pub/debian-meetings/2013/debconf13/high/987_How_to_attract_new_developers_for_your_team.ogv
    ... or instead of spending time into the full video you rather might
    like to simply browse the subtitles starting at line 2379
[2] http://blends.debian.org/med/tasks/cloud
[3] https://people.debian.org/~tille/talks/
[4] http://blends.debian.net/liststats/authorstat_debian-boot.png
[5] https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=758116#135


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