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Custom Debian Distributions (was: Re: Integrate Knoppix in Debian (was: Re: Debian Enterprise?))

On Sat, Nov 29, 2003 at 11:22:24PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 29, 2003 at 12:16:07PM +0100, Benj. Mako Hill wrote:
> > I'm not sure about this. Debian-NP's bootable CD has (some) code in it
> > that's not in Debian but I wouldn't say the work is categorically
> > non-Debian since the *VAST* majority of data on the CD is pure
> > debian.org debs. 
> That means it's, categorically, a Debian derivative. Nothing wrong with
> that, though. Nothing _at all_.

I agree, the code we have is obviously a derivative of the core Debian
distribution. From a less purely technical vantage, I see Debian-NP as
a Debian *internal* project.

Some of our work is and can not be, for technical reasons, part of the
vanilla Debian but we're working hard on fixing this and we're not
unlike something like experimental in that way really.

> Labels can help that though -- it's pretty hard to discuss things without
> using words.


> So last year (well, early this year), Bdale came up with the idea of
> "flavours", which unfortunately hasn't really gone anywhere yet. That idea
> basically goes "If Debian is the Universal Operating System -- that is,
> it can do everything you might want -- then doing any particular thing
> is just a matter of choosing some subset of Debian packages". That is,
> that custom CDs should just be a matter of saying "these are the packages
> that non-profits want -- please grab them, then burn them onto a bootable
> CD for me". No extra hacks, extra debs, or anything else -- they're all
> included in Debian.

Speaking of labels... 

I don't know if I'd agree with the fact that it hasn't really gone

At Debconf in Oslo, we had a very productive meeting (or two) between
folks representing the people working within Debian to create custom
distributions. One of the things we agreed on was that the end of goal
of pretty much all of our projects was to be able to do everything we
wanted inside Debian in the way that Bdale described.

We also decided that flavors, subprojects, metadistros, and other
projects who were interested in customizing Debian *from within* and
that "Custom Debian Distribution" was the term we could all agree on
and that we all thought was clear.

I think that work by groups like Skolelinux and others under the
banner of creating custom distros has been inspired by and working
toward Bdale's flavors. For reasons of sanity and the number of terms
for the same thing already floating around for the same thing, it
might never be called that. :)

> The alternative is to look at Debian as a base, which has most of the
> stuff you wantbut doesn't do everything quite right, and then build
> derived distributions that fix the minor mistakes and fill in the missing
> bits to make it exactly what you want. 
> That does work now, and it's what Knoppix and a bunch of others do,
> quite successfully.

I think we're going to end up on a hybrid situation when we need to do
some of (b) because waiting for the infrasture (which we will have to
help create of course) for (a) will take to long and we'd like to give
people something to use in the meantime. :)


Benjamin Mako Hill

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