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Re: What to do about the "Official" CD

On Thu, 17 Jun 1999, jim westveer wrote:

> On 6/16/99, 6:27:03 AM, Dale Scheetz <dwarf@polaris.net> wrote regarding 
> What to do about the "Official" CD:
> > When the Official CD was first proposed (by Bruce I believe ;-) it was
> > argued that it would give vendors "protection" from distributing 
> faulty
> > archives of the Debian distribution, thus keeping the regular fiasco 
> of
> > Infomagic from happening. I argued that it placed any failures back on 
> us,
> > instead.
> > >From my experience maintaining these two releases, I would say that 
> we
> > were both wrong. Having an Official CD has not stopped the delivery of
> > broken CDs, and it doesn't protect the vendor either. From both the 
> past
> > releases I have had customers who became irate at me and Linux Press 
> for
> > having produced such a severely broken CD. Even after carefully 
> explaining
> > who produces the CD and where the blame lies, these folks still could 
> not
> > separate the responsibility for the product quality from the vendor, 
> and
> > apply it to the manufacturer instead.
> Humm, Severely broken CD's.  Perhaps if you could be more specific,
> it could be FIXED. I assume you are referring to the upgrade 
> procedures.

I was specific, and yes I _am_ talking about the upgrade.

> I disagree with you that the 2.0 and 2.1 Official releases were
> "severely" broken.  That would imply that they were useless, and I 
> have installed hundreds of machines with those "broken" releases, much
> to the satisfaction of their users.

The word "severely" is the customer's words. Telling me that you have done
many _installations_ is quite useless to someone trying to do an upgrade.

To those folks trying to upgrade their system by the approved method these
CDs, while not totally useless, do _not_ perform as expected or desired.
This is clearly broken!

> > Cheapbytes has reported the same sorts of problems. Even after they 
> posted
> > a fixed upgrade script on their web page, folks complained about them 
> not
> > fixing it on the CD. Even though they are not allowed to modify the
> > "Official" image, it seems to be viewed as their responsibility to
> > distribute a "fixed" "Official" CD. As an asside, they also report 
> that
> > purchasers of Debian CDs "complain" a BUNCH, when compared to their 
> other
> > purchasers of Red Had and the rest. When you add in that they sell 5 
> to 10
> > times as much of the other products as they do Debian, there seems to 
> be
> > some substantial market resistance to Debian!
> Don't confuse quantity with success. I too have made THOUSANDS of 2.0 
> and
> 2.1 CD's and I have not had one complaint about the upgrade scripts. 
> ;-/

THOUSANDS! Give me a break.

You made these from the Official image, or from your own archive using
debian-CD? I _am_ talking about the published Official image,

> > As Testing Coordinator I am painfully aware of the limitations of the
> > testing group in dealing with this problem. Even I can not afford to 
> try
> > and download the beta image for testing.
> > On the other hand, I can see great ways to utilise the testing 
> resources
> > we have, if we could only find a way to get beta test images into 
> their
> > hands.
> > Here is what I propose:
> > When it comes time to test the beta CD, we pay for a minimal run of
> > aluminums (probably no more than a few hundred, at similar dollars). 
> These
> > CDs would be used by the testing group and the CD vendors, and be 
> given
> > some rigorous testing before the release. With a list of addresses to 
> ship
> > the CDs to, we could even enlist the help of a fulfillment house and 
> never
> > have to be involved in the actual production and distribution of the
> > product. This would, of course, add substantially to the costs, but 
> might
> > be worth it in terms of turn around time and uniformity of product.
> > The finaly testing phase will only involve testers who found problems,
> > and can probably be handled in house with toasters and snail mail. (If
> > someone sends me a master, I can toast up the handfull for the testers 
> in
> > question.
> > I have been blessed to have Branden doing the day-to-day operations of 
> the
> > testing group, and I commend him for his fine job. So as not to add 
> more
> > to his plate, I would be willing to do the leg work for these issues, 
> and
> > coordinate the financial issues with SPI if that seems appropriate.
> This IS a good idea.  After my being involved in the 2.1 release, I 
> had
> the nagging feeling that there were very few of us who actually tested
> the "official" immages.  Perhaps if we have a "official" BETA period
> where the images would actually be tested by the testing group.  I 
> know
> that I would be more than happy to burn some BETA CD's, for the 
> testers;
> perhaps other cd burners would also.
While I can burn CDs, and _do_ keep an up-to-date mirror, I don't have the
bandwidth to download the official images. Creating a "look alike" from my
archives using debian-cd stands a fair chance of creating a different
image than the Official one, so any testing done with my images will
generate inaccurate results.

We need a process that distributes the same image to all testers. If there
are enough folks like you with the bandwidth to manage, we can probably
avoid paying a press factory, but can we really organize such an effor in
a timely fashion?

Also, when bugs are found, some means of tracking which images have which
fixes also needs to be put in place. Basicly what is needed is as much of
a testing effor on CDs as we put into package testing. The only impediment
to this is the logistics of distributing the proper CDs.

> > One additional proposal:
> > One of the things I have learned again from my work with the testing
> > group is you can't test everything, and something will always fall 
> through
> > the cracks. For that reason, we need a way for vendors to submit 
> patches
> > to the Official image, for authentication by someone here at Debian. 
> They
> > should then be allowed to apply those patches to the CDs that they are
> > selling. (This may encourage vendors to start new releases with 
> minimal
> > press runs, so they can recover with only small losses.)
> Perhaps a bug report?
> > I would also like to suggest that vendors be allowed to "add" items to 
> the
> > Official image and still call it "Official". (Possibly Official Plus)
> > There are lots of occasions where the additions to the CD have 
> absolutely
> > no impact on the rest of the image. This becomes clear when you 
> realise
> > that the "items" they want to add are things like HTML catalogues of 
> other
> > products that will be placed in the root directory of the CD.
> Actually I am in favior of the "Official" images.  I do not think that
> making an "Daves Official" image, would do anything to resolve the
> problems you mentioned above.  Additionally there is already a
> method to adding Vendor specific information on to the slink_cd
> scripts, and there is room on the slink images specifically for
> vendor additions.  (slink.extras) .

This is the first I have heard of this. You imply by this, that a vendor
who mirrors the distribution can take debian-cd and create his own
"Official" image? Unless debian-cd verifies that all the pieces it needs
are, in fact, on the disk in the right places, this process opens strong
possibilities for differences between Official CDs. This is clearly worse
than having a single known problem on the one true Official CD.

> > One last piece of info:
> > This last release I produced ED (Essential Debian), a single CD of the
> > essential components of the 2.1 release, and sold it to CheapBytes. As
> > they have recieved not one single complaint about this CD, and 
> apparently
> > have sold enough to be willing to pay me for another one, they are
> > considering selling my product instead of the Official CD set. While 
> this
> > may be good for me, it is clearly not good for Debian.
> Oh I dont know, If you are making Debian CD's and people are using
> them, I do not see the harm.  Remember that the Slink CD #1 is 
> basically as you described....the essential parts of Debian,
> and on can install Debian quite nicely from that CD alone.
Installing is nice, but failure to do an upgrade tells people that we are
not truely upgradable. Since this is supposed to be one of Debian's strong
points, it seems appropriate to make sure that it works.

My point is that if unofficial CDs like mine become more popular than the
Official CD, this says something disapointing about the distribution. If a
vendor like CheapBytes were to decide that one of our unofficial CDs was
of higher quality than the official one and stopped distributing the
Offical CD, wouldn't you call that a black mark for Debian? I certainly

> > I have always been opposed to the Official CD, (although not very
> > strongly) but would be much happier with the concept if we could 
> approach
> > it without our previous misconceptions about purpose and function, and
> > apply some additional quality control to its production.
> I feel that the "Official" release images is a good
> way to quickly provide the CD Vendors with a release that was
> Q/C 'd by the testing group, rather than having each CD manufacturer
> come up with their own Idea of what should and should not be
> put on a Debian disk.
You are mixing issues here. Having a quality, tested, CD is somewhat
orthogonal to the issues of what particular packages the CD contains.

Although I haven't checked, I am quite certain that ED does not contain
the same packages that are on the #1 CD of the Official set. That doesn't
give a clue as to which of the CDs is of higher quality.

> And I aggree that we could use more help testing the releases.
> Join us on debian-cd@lists.debian.org, and help us
> design/build the next release.

I believe my efforts would be better placed trying to improve the testing
of the images debian-cd comes up with. That was the entire intent of my
original posting. Defending the current process doesn't tell me how to do


_-_-_-_-_-   Author of "The Debian Linux User's Guide"  _-_-_-_-_-_-

aka   Dale Scheetz                   Phone:   1 (850) 656-9769
      Flexible Software              11000 McCrackin Road
      e-mail:  dwarf@polaris.net     Tallahassee, FL  32308

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