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Re: Replacing live-wrapper for live images by live-build?

Hi Roland!

On Wed, Apr 14, 2021 at 12:27:24PM +0200, Roland Clobus wrote:
>Hello Debian-Live list, Debian-Images list, debian-boot list,
>About a year ago I wrote [2] about my steps to reproduce the command
>line that is currently used to generate the live images. By then it was
>already clear that live-wrapper needs a replacement.
>Steve McIntyre wrote at that time: "The current live-wrapper code, and
>vmdebootstrap, are both basically dead IMHO. I've suggested moving to
>something else supported like FAI instead, like the Debian cloud images.
>highvoltage has other ideas. I'm not working on anything live-related at
>all any more."
>In November [1] I wrote to the live list about 'Porting the standard
>image from live-wrapper to live-build'.
>Since then I've continued working on live-build, which is now IMHO in a
>good shape (it even creates reproducible images [3]), but live-build
>would need some final features to be a proper replacement.
>These final features can be subdivided in a few categories:
>* Accessibility: better support for speech-synthesis and adding beeps to
>* Localisation: support for running the live image in another language
>starting from the boot
>* Cosmetic: using the official Debian 11 artwork during the boot
>* Branding: the live image might need to differ between 'official' and
>'unofficial' images
>Each of these categories can be tackled with reasonable effort, but some
>coordination might be required.
>My questions:
>* Has it already been decided what the replacement for live-wrapper will be?
>* If no, would you consider using live-build again?

Thanks for asking, and for your efforts so far. I'm going to be frank
in my response - please don't take this personally!

My experiences with live-build over the years have been so bad that I
personally never want to touch it again [1]. However, if you and
others think it is now a reasonable piece of software, then of course
I'm not going to stand in your way and try to stop you from using it.

My main worry, however, is that we need some *people* (plural) to own
Debian's live builds going forwards: maintaining the software we use
(whatever that might be), running it, debugging it, making and testing
releases with it. In particular, the latter is not a small
undertaking. This is an ongoing commitment.

I've been burned so badly by lack of support here over the years that
I do not want to be involved, beyond simply helping people to get up
to speed on how our infrastructure works. If we don't get a team of
people committed to the work here, I'm planning on simply turning off
live builds. When I asked for developer effort in this area nearly
four years ago, I had lots of responses like "oh no! you can't turn
them off!" from users, but *no* help showed up to do the work of
maintaining them.

[1] In particular, I found that it was incredibly hard to debug
    live-build failures due to its design: written in shell fragments,
    with "set -e" used so things would just exit on any failure with
    no log output. On release days in the past, I ended up having to
    go digging into why builds had failed with very little
    information, and that caused *massive* amounts of stress.

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
"... the premise [is] that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It's not.
 Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining
 the human condition with dignity and respect."
  -- Bruce Schneier

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