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Test results for: debian-live-lenny-i386-xfce-desktop.iso beta1

Test results for: debian-live-lenny-i386-xfce-desktop.iso beta1

Good day all,

I downloaded and burned the debian-live-lenny-i386-xfce-desktop.iso for lenny live beta1, and tested it on two computers. One was a laptop, an HP Pavilion ze4500. The other was a desktop, an HP Pavilion 533w. I can provide details on the hardware configurations should they be required by anybody on the Debian-Live team.

Preliminary general comments:

Way to go! I love an official Debian Live CD. Great idea! Debian can really use this, and what a great base for others to build Live CDs upon - the stability, power, freedom, and flexibility of Debian. Great work everyone!

The upcoming DVD .iso with all three major desktop environments available for choosing at boot time is a fabulous idea. This can be very useful in showing folks new to Linux what their choices are in a GUI, so they can pick something ideally suited for them. I assume the live installer, when made available, will automatically install the DE which folks choose to boot into, while not autoinstalling the other two?

In addition to Gnome, KDE, and XFCE, please consider adding the LXDE GUI for those computers with especially lean specifications. This is a relatively new DE, and so it might not be entirely ready for current use. Perhaps Lenny+1 would be the better choice. But LXDE is a great choice for those folks trying to run a computer with minimal hardware. It is very lightweight and freedesktop.org standards compliant. More about LXDE here:

Overall, my compliments - lenny live runs very fast. It is up there with sidux for fast running Live CDs. This is important for giving Linux newbies a positive first impression. Explanations about why optical drives are slower than hard drives don't help. A fast Live CD helps.

Detailed observations:

Buggy boot prompt not just a Qemu issue:
A problem was noted with the initial boot screen by other testers. When using Qemu, some computers only displayed "Press F1 for help, or Enter", instead of the full message on the boot screen, which is, "Press F1 for help, or ENTER to boot:_", with a boot prompt. On my Pavilion 533w desktop computer, this was not a problem, and the full message displayed properly.

On the Pavilion ze4500 laptop however, there was a very slight and curious hiccup. At first, the partial message listed above was displayed. About two seconds later, the words " to boot:_", appeared at the end of the line, completing the boot message. The laptop then would boot normally. So this odd behavior with the boot prompt message might be effecting not just users of Qemu, but other folks as well, albeit without the severe time lag Qemu users have experienced. Real computers, not just virtualized computers, seem to be suffering a problem here.

Udev eth0 --> eth1:
As others have noted, eth0 is switched over to eth1, failing to configure and activate the ethernet port. This was true for me on the laptop HP ze4500, but I did not test this for the desktop Pavilion 533w.

No autodetection and automount of NTFS/ext3 partitions or USB drives:
As others have mentioned, lenny live beta1 failed to detect and automount NTFS or ext3 partitions on both the desktop and laptop computers' hard drives. Additionally, neither one would automount a USB thumbdrive. This is fairly essential stuff these days. My understanding is that this will be fixed in beta2, yes? If so, I'll test for these issues again on both computers when beta 2 rolls out.

lsusb package?:
Where is lsusb? lsusb is a very useful command for those folks trying to get a USB WiFi connection hooked up and running. But this command does not come with the packages found in lenny live beta1. Would it be possible to add this package to lenny live? Doing so would help laptop users especially.

Default theme and wallpaper look good:
Once launched into XFCE proper, everything looks pretty good. I like the default theme and the default desktop background. I understand that this is not the intended wallpaper for the final release, but it is a good looking choice, and will hopefully be kept as an option.

Please consider removing some wallpapers:
If I may make a suggestion though, consider removing the files gnome-debian-sid-splash.png and gnome-splash-curves.png from the /usr/share/images/desktop-base directory. These are Gnome oriented artwork files, and don't really belong on an XFCE desktop.

Also, with all due respect to the artist, but still, the Splash-Debian.png in the same directory looks very clunky. Furthermore, Splash-Debian_red.png is too small in scale - it looks grainy when blown up to a large screen size. The same is true of Splash-debblue.png, gnome-debian-sid-splash.png, gnome-splash-curves.png, and again, Splash-Debian.png. All of them are grainy.

Finally, while I love the Debian.jpg wallpaper, the Debian version of XFCE features a large taskbar on the upper edge of the screen, which obscures the top of the Debian swirl. The dock at the bottom partially covers up the text, “debian”. This looks clunky and unpolished, and so reluctantly, I must advise removing this wallpaper as well.

I know that these are aesthetic concerns, and not technical issues, but ensuring that the look and feel of the GUI is well polished and professional is important to conveying the impression of quality, as well as the reality of quality which is the hallmark of Debian. We can learn from Apple Computer, which no longer makes high quality hardware and software as in the days of yore, but can still overcharge for their products because Steve Jobs insists upon excellence in aesthetics. Debian achieves excellence in technical quality while being free in every sense of the word, and it should also strive for excellence in aesthetic quality for the complete experience.

To summarize, please consider removing from the directory /usr/share/images/desktop-base the following files:


If it would help for me to file this recommendation as a bug report, please let me know and I will do so. But I am guessing that it might be too late to deal with such issues in the lenny development cycle. If I am wrong, please let me know.

Bootsplash possible?:
Would it be possible to set up splashy to run automatically with Debian Live? Again, this is an aesthetic issue, but an important one. Almost all Live Linux CDs use a bootsplash these days. Why should Debian be behind the times? I do not recommend completely suppressing the dmesg output though - this is Debian after all. But how about having the fancy graphic on top, with the scrolling dmesg just below? This way, both the aesthetes and the geeks will be happy :-)

More software required to round out the desktop:
There is more software needed to round out the desktop for the default Live CD. How about appropriate choices from the following categories? CD Burner, Calculator, Email, Photo Collection, Video player, Games, Partition Editor, Chat client, and Torrent client. For specific recommendations suitable to XFCE, I would suggest Brasero, gcalctool, icedove, F-spot (maybe), Totem-xine or Totem-gstreamer, gParted, Pigdin, and Deluge or some other appropriate torrent client. These are all pretty basic and essential programs for a complete desktop experience, and should be available by default on the lenny live XFCE CD.

As much network DFSG software as possible:
It should be easy to configure an internet connection and bring a lenny live CD, and most especially, a lenny live installed system, up and online. Lenny live needs a lot more default networking configuration software on the CD, and not on some distant Debian repository where it might very well be impossible to install from. How is one supposed to download software to set up the network, when the computer is lacking the appropriate network setup software packages in the default install in the first place? You can't download network software if the network is inactive folks.

I would recommend ndiswrapper, wifi-radar, and wpasuppliant for starters. Additionally, CLI software to configure and activiate dial-up connections, isdn, direct asdl, and 3G WLAN connections should be included too. Also, if I may further suggest, please consider some very useful CLI scripts from sidux, fw-detect and ceni. These are excellent command line tools for getting networks to just work.

And yes, there should be some good complementary GUI tools to handle these various kinds of network connections as well. I don't know what to recommend especially. Linux Mint has some good tools, but I don't know if they are in the Debian repositories. Ubuntu's tools are lacking in my view. (Did I say lacking? I meant to say they suck.) I hear Fedora has put together some good network configuration GUI software, but I haven't tried it.

Anyway, networking should be easy to set up. This requires having a full slate of DFSG software, both CLI and GUI, available on the Live CD, and maybe setting up an option for people to easily configure /etc/sources.list to include the contrib and non-free repositories. (Yes, I hate to admit, but sometimes we have no choice but to install those binary blobs.) Additionally, there should be some good GUI software for those unfamiliar with the command line.

The notion that somebody should have to use a USB drive to carry various network .deb packages from their networked computer to their freshly installed Debian computer is ridiculous. I have had to do this far too many times, and there is no good reason for it. All possible DFSG network configuration and activation software should be installed by default. It would help tremendously in getting networks set up quickly and easily.

And yes, I will get off my soapbox and stop ranting now ;-) Sorry, but this is a sore issue with me, and I would hate to see Debian Live replicate this utterly unnecessary and ridiculous problem found with so many Live CDs.

In conclusion, as I stated above, I really like the Debian Live CD. It is fast, elegant, and it works. A few tweaks here and there and some more beta testing, and it will be a real winner that Debian can be immensely proud of. Congratulation Debian Live team!

Luke Seubert

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