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no more "one CD fits all" ...and then?

(This mail relates to things said in the recent threads
"Debian Edu CD: One per language?" and "Kde-edu, GCompris, Gimp").

Hi to everyone!

So "one CD fits all" wont work for all time, right?
...I'm glad to hear this now from other people than me ;-)

[As i can't leverage on a day-by-day internet connection, i'm opting to
give you my arguments rather in one piece than a bite-by-bite chit-chat.
Therefore i tried to keep this structured and with simple language for
easy reading. ;-) ]

RalfGesellensetter wrote:
> Am Dienstag, 21. Juni 2005 09:06 schrieb Frank Weißer:
>>How about a multi-sessioned CD ? Bootsession with installer, 2nd
>>session a chosen language-image?
> even though your idea is quite creative, I don't believe it is a good
> solution:
I also find your idea quite creative.
But i don't believe it's a good solution, too. Not because of the
reasons Ralf mentioned...

> - multiple sessions don't increase the total storage capacity of a cd
Thats right; but: Ralf, you miss the point here ;-) -- as Konstantinos
explained, if we seperate languages, we'll have ~50MB free to use again.

> - there is quite a lot of technical work to have common packages
> included with every language related sub-session.
This kind of work has to be done anyway if we're moving away from the
"one CD fits all" dogma(?); regardless, in which direction we'll go!

...but because of the 'usability':
One cannot just "download, burn it and go", but would had to download a
generic part and a language specific part and make up a multisession
thing out of it before one can burn it.
And i don't think "ohh, we (developers) can do/prepare that for our
users" will get us to any practically different situation than a "one
single-session image per language" concept.

> During LinuxTag there have been several requests for using Skolelinux
> in less developed countries. Not always I could answer the question
> to what extend this or that language is supported "out of box".
> Countries like Mozambique, Egypt or Indonesia usually lack high speed
> internet connections, hence all should be on the CD.
I have made the very same experience at fairs and other opportunities
presenting Debian-Edu.

> Some charity NGOs even said that there would be some financial
> resources for including missing languages.
Sounds promising to anyone who opts in to do this special work.

> Installer is running in several languages which is brilliant.
IMHO there is very much substance in this point.

If we look at less developed countries (but not only there!) one can
easily see at least two aspects limiting our methof of distribution:
 o  DVD-drives are not standard; DVD-writers are even more seldom.
 o  Low-bandwith internet connection has to be taken into account;
    people dont like to download stuff they're surely not going to use.

Therefore i *strongly* vote for a CD-image based distribution method
to not keep out people unnecessarily!

But ONE CD-image is not enough for what...
a) we can and want to give to the people, and
b) the people want to get from us.

So obviously there IS a need for moving from an one-CD based method
of distribution to a more-than-one-CD based method.

I would appreciate to *additionally* have one DVD-image containing all
stuff from the CDs. But IMHO it will be a big mistake not keeping our
method of distribution CD based in the first place!


Now, moving away from "one CD fits all", the big question is:

Let's have a look at the different options...

I.) per language

Making the CDs language specific does not convince me, because being
multi-language is a _key_feature_ of Skolelinux that distinguishes it
from other [not only linux-based] solutions for schools/education.
So being capable of supporting multiple languages (at once!) should be
apparent at every level of dealing with the system; like it is today.

If throwing out languages at all, then we should not end up with only
one language left [per image]. In this case i would rather see multi-
language images like e.g. separatly for Europe, Asia, Africa, America.
...But then we'll be right back at being short of space, soon.

The main point in being multi-language is to actively respect and -- at
the same time -- support one big _fact_: in many countries of the world
there is more than one ethnic, and in most countries there is more than
one language being spoken ...even in the very same region or city.
This is a key reason why Skolelinux was made; and it would be a cardinal
error to leave this behind and go with a set of single-language images!

So in short: we really should avoid a one-language slicing of Skolelinux.

II.) per profile

This really doesn't make sense in the end.
"Workstation" includes almost all and "Terminalserver" [practically] all
packages. Does this have to be elaborated any further here?

III.) per target group

One CD with the programs separately for admins, teachers, pupils, ...?
I doubt this will work. Does this make any sense at all??

IV.) per usage scenario

In my view there are three main usage scenarios.
They relate to three skill levels which also commonly relate to three
age groups in turn.

a) [Very] young children getting comfortable with a computer and earning
   basic skills in the usage of computers (...and WWW) as well as basic
   skills in the usage of [written] language and mathematics.
   This scenario is being found at kindergartens and primary schools.

b) Older children and young teenagers who are extending their knowledge
   of language, mathematics and other subjects (including computers) by
   learning and using 'standard' applications such as
    *  generic office suite (text, spreadsheet, drawing, presentation),
    *  generic internet apps. (www, email, chat), and
    *  specialised educational apps. (vocabulary, math/geom., music ...).
   This scenario is being found at secondary schools.

   In addition to these youngsters we have the same topics with adults at
   [adult] evening classes doing something like their 'computer driving
   licence' (or similar). The same topics with pupils/teachers/parents
   doing their homework, 'office' stuff, and 'standard' comp.-usage, too.

c) Older teenagers and [younger as well as grown-up] adults who want/have
   to do more specific stuff, in addition to the 'standard' stuff of b).
   The different faculties / working areas like
    * natural/ technical/ social/ business sciences
    * linguisticts
    * graphical and musical arts
   ...definitely need specialised and advanced programs for e.g.
    *  code developing (programming languages, IDEs, ...)
    *  document work (version control, typesetting, presentation, ...)
    *  computations (algebra systems, ...)
    *  mass data management (DB-based apps., visualisation tools, ...)
    *  multimedia (graphic/sound/video tools, special HW support)
    *  information management & collaboration (collab. systems/portals)
    *  CAD/CAM, accounting, ...

   This scenario is being found at
    *  advanced classes of secondary schools,
    *  specialised (business/music/...) secondary schools,
    *  vocational schools,
    *  [adult] evening classes, and
    *  universities.

V.) per another distinction

There haven't come any more characterisitics to my mind up to now.
You have got another suggestion? Let us hear about it!


RalfGesellensetter wrote:
> But if we look at KDE (incl. kdeedu), gcompris, openoffice:
> Which of those are already installed out from the box?

We should think over this question in regard of above mentioned three
usage scenarios.

 How about going on with several Skolelinux CDs like this...

Indeed one should rather think of different *software-sets* here than
different CD-images! So "CD" is more a metaphor than a real thing!
But i'll stick to this term for now.

  [The listings of some software or packages below are just to give you
  an idea where i think a cut can be made between several CDs. I'm not
  fixed in my position on what-packages-on-which-image; these are just
  examples for trying to get things a little clearer.]

1) 'core'/'base' CD --> "get a start"

  Contains all common stuff, esp. server- and network-related things.
  Also includes 'the desktop'; and all management stuff for managing
  users, groups, SW, HW, networks, rooms, classes, and courses
  (be it wlus, cat, schooltool, cerebrum, ...whatever).

  Does not contain any 'office' or educational stuff.

2) 'level 1'/'junior' CD --> "learn & play"

  Has things like gcompris, tux*, etc. Also has medium-sized office app-
  lications, child-suited games, khangman & alike (but with word lists
  suited for that age and learning level), and a good+simple WWW-browser.

  Does not have things like emacs, TeX & friends, evolution/kontact,
  kalzium, kstars/celestia, yacas/GNU R, gimp, a variety of programming
  languages, kgeo/kig, and so forth.

3) 'level 2'/'productivity' CD --> "learn & work"

  Contains a "fully fledged office suite" and all the office/ standard/
  productivity stuff like OOo, mozilla, evolution/kontact, FTP-/IRC-/...
  clients, gimp, basic TeX, [and maybe emacs,] and so forth for work.
  And for learning things like kalzium/xdrawchem, kstars/celestia,
  khangman & alike (with 'normal' word lists), kturtle, kgeo/kig, etc.

  Does not contain a medium-sized office suite, or things like gcompris,
  tux*, and alike, or IDEs like eclipse.

4) 'level 3'/'students' CD --> "expert stuff"

  Has advanced software for e.g.
   *  code development: eclipse + plugins, libs for perl/php/python, ...
   *  document work: XML-tools, more TeX stuff, plenty of editors, ...
   *  computations: yacas, GNU R, ...
   *  mass data management: databases + tools, DB-based apps., ...
   *  multimedia: ...
   *  CAD/CAM: ...

  Does not have anything already included on other CDs.

5) additional 'extra' CD (/ CDs?) --> "extra! extra!"

  Contains stuff which is kind of 'extra' because of licensing, space
  or special-interest issues.

 So how is this gonna be in practise...

One installs Skolelinux on every machine using the 'core' image.
At the end the installer asks what 'educational'* profile/-s one wants
to install, choosing from e.g. "junior", "standard", and "expert".
...Other option: the installer justs asks for an additional CD.
[*) 'educational' versus the 'technical' profiles we already use.]

The installer asks for another CD and looks for a respective metapackage
on it. The metapackage then gets all related software into the system;
and possibly does some other things, too.

So for a main-server one would need only the 'core' image. For any other
machine one would choose the respective 'educational' profile(s), depen-
ding on the type(s) of school/classes/users this machine has to serve.

Maybe it's clever to combine the stuff from the 'core' and 'productivity'
software-sets on one CD-image, that being a new 'standard' image.
See below for more.

 Further notes on the different CDs resp. software-sets...

Ad 1 -- the 'core'/'base' CD:

  Some mechanism had to be developed that would allow integration resp.
  installation/deployment of additional software-sets (i.e. images) in
  a convenient manner. This mechanism would be on the first CD, too.
  (If we are moving away from "one CD fits all" we need this anyway
  of course.)

  In addition we have to have some mechanism allowing the users to have
  age-level resp. skill-level suited menus.
  This need is related -- and at the very same time independant -- to
  the possibility of combining/installing more than one 'educational'
  profile. I.e. we need this anyway, too.

  Another aspect: i think this section ('core') is the very one where
  collaboration with the Ubuntu people is/ should be in place.
  Ok, we use KDE and they Gnome, but that's neglectable here, isn't it?

Ad 2 -- the 'level 1'/'junior' CD:

  Do we have to reinvent the wheel? A debian-jr CD image may already
  fill this this gap, doesn't it? ...Probably with some little tweaks:
  maybe just putting a special debian-edu metapackage onto debian-jr CD
  and have a script/installer-part (see Ad 1) that looks out for this
  and installs it? Plus some discussion about alignment of debian-jr
  package list.
  If something like kalzium is in debian-jr, then no problem; our meta-
  package wont simply depend on it so it isn't going to be installed.
  If something like a medium-sized office suite isn't in debian-jr, then
  lets discuss this with them. If debian-edu and debian-jr cannot co-
  operate this way -- although i don't belive this --, then we'll do it
  our own.
  (Dont forget: an infrastructure to support more than one image HAS to
  be set up for the future anyway.)

Ad 3 -- the 'level 2'/'productivity' CD:

  Should also have some collaboration tools like wiki, moodle/ilias,
  steam, a variety of programming languages plus kommander, CVS, and
  accounting software.
  (Although these will be really put to use mainly by 'level 3' users
  -- see third usage scenario [IV.c] above -- i think it is better to
  include these on a 'level 2'/'productivity' CD.
  Same thing with a database; but postgresql is included in the 'core'
  CD for any server/workstation, so no need for this here. Maybe mysql
  for those wanting a simple DB because they cant cope with postgresql.)

  And now for a completely different thought...
  Maybe it's clever to combine the 'core' and this 'productivity' CD
  into one, as they both contain 'standard' things. The 'core' CD from
  the admins(?) point of view and the 'productivity' from the uses point
  of view.
  (I repeat: think more of "software-sets" rather than of "CD-images" !)

Ad 4 -- the 'level 3'/'students' CD:

  Regarding multimedia: maybe we can leverage on demudi CDD in a similar
  manner to leveraging on debian-jr (as mentioned above); maybe we can't.
  Where is a debian-science CDD to fill the rest of this gap anyway? ;-)

Ad 5 -- the 'extra' CD:

  Things like Squeak come to my mind. It would be a nice thing to have
  a CD with the run-time environment set up ready for integration into
  a Debian/Skolelinux installation; containing some Squeak-images, too.
  I think it's the right way to shift the licensing issues and space
  demandments of Squeak onto a seperate medium, but one that is cared
  of nevertheless.

  Another thing is Wikipedia. There could be an extra CD containing a
  Wikipedia dump and a package containing scripts to integrate the dump
  into an existing debian installation for local use; for those lacking
  internet connection and cant give back to the internet wiki anyway.
  Ok, it would be silly to include Wikipedia dumps into our CVS --- one
  can get them better up-to-date from wikimedia.org directly.
  But scripts which set up a local Mediawiki installation and integrate
  a SQL-dump into this would be more than just cool. Albeit they would
  have to tamper with the local MySQL installation anyway, violating
  debian policy. (Please correct me if i'm wrong here.)
  Independant of this, a local Wikipedia installation is definitively
  not the common case; so that's better put on an extra CD.
  (I'm not making this up; people on fairs have already asked for it.
  To make it short & unprecise: "Where is apt-get install wikipedia?")

  Or Opera. I do indeed like this program; but, hey, it's closed source
  without doubt!

  Or maybe packets with genuine versions of M's Flashplayer, S's Java,
  A's PDF-Reader, ...?

  #include <your ideas>.here  /* ;-) */

Further note on "medium-sized office suite":
(this might include valuable information ;-)

  I'd prefer koffice for this.
  But i didn't want to say bye without giving the following information...

  There was a research project sponsored by Sun to examine the effects
  of an adjustable/suitable UI for StarOffice7 for children/teenagers.
  This project was carried out by the university of Paderborn/Germany
  [ http://uni-pb.de ] by a team of professors/tutors and students.

  They developed a mechanism to switch the UI of SO7 between several
  variants, each taylored specifically for a target user group of
  a) children/ beginners, b) older children/ mediocre users, and
  c) teenagers/ users with some experience.
  Then they evaluated the usage of this UI-variants with the different
  target user group.
  The implementation of the UI switching/tayloring mechanism makes heavy
  use of the UNO API via Java.

  See a detailed description of the project and its progress/results at
  http://www.cwheroes.org/his_4a_detail.asp?id=211 (English) and the
  project homepage http://iug.uni-paderborn.de/staroffice4kids (German).
  For download and more also have a look at http://so4k.kippdata.com
  (English) or http://so4k.kippdata.de (German).

  I've seen the different interfaces at a presentation of the project at
  the third "WDR Computernacht" in 2001-11 (some info on the german page
  http://www.ccnacht.de/programm/deutsch/uni.html?s6#staroffice ) and it
  appeared very convincing to me.

  The software is licensed unter the GNU GPL.

With kind regards and thanks for your attention & patience reading this,

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