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

Hi again Andreas,

Andreas Tille <tille@debian.org> (2014-10-14):
> On Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 06:02:11AM +0200, Cyril Brulebois wrote:
> > 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].

to clarify a bit: my surprise was about blends support in tasksel/d-i.
I've known about blends for a while but I don't think that topic popped
up in my debian-boot radar during the whole Jessie release cycle.

> > 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]).

I meant the needed changes in tasksel to support both desktop selection
and blends.

> > 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.

Blends… support in d-i (during this release cycle) was what I meant,
sorry for being unclear. Hopefully that was covered by the above
clarification. ;)

> > 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.

That really isn't true, there are many other developers, reporters, and
patch providers. I'm only adding glue or oil where needed… Of course we
could do with more hands (look at the BTS), but I'm far for being the
only one working on d-i.

> > 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
> packages
>    edu-tasks
>    games-tasks
>    gis-tasks
>    junior-tasks
>    med-tasks
>    science-tasks
>    debichem-tasks
>    ezgo-tasks
> (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.

I'm not sure we have 8 slots at the moment. I'm pretty sure a scrollbar
(if at all feasible) in a multi-choice menu would be a bad idea. Maybe
we'd need a separate prompt for blends. Joey will likely be able to tell
you more about this.


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