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Re: Presentation of iso downloads - simpler like Fedora?

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On 08/13/2012 05:10 AM, Philip Hands wrote:
> While contrasting with Ubuntu, there is also the issue of Debian Live CDs which are close to
> impossible to find, and if you eventually manage to find them, turn out to be too big to fit on
> a CD.

I have put some work into www.debian.org to improve things. The click path is:

www.debian.org > Getting Debian > Try Debian live before installing

That page, http://www.debian.org/CD/live is supposed to be the user-facing front page for Debian
Live, skewed search engine results notwithstanding. That page explains about different images,
what they are for, and mentions the size constraint.

Arguably, that could be shortened and/or the link to /CD/live given higher profile on the "Getting
Debian" page for this release. I'll talk it over with the web team and work on making it better
for wheezy.

> So, you stick "Debian Live" into your favourite search engine (duckduckgo.com in my case).

That's too bad that people start there. If I wanted the official images for any other
distribution, I think I would start at the distribution's own web site.

> and it takes you to http://live.debian.net/, a nice friendly looking site, with encouragingly
> cute icons -- clearly this is going to be easy, right?

We've recently discussed within the Debian Live team that the developer-oriented focus of the
live.debian.net site is not made clear enough, nor are the pointers back to the official www.d.o
/CD/live front page (for users) nor http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-live (for developers) made
clear enough. And in the case of the latter, the page is too sparse and somewhat redundant with
the live.debian.net site. The intention when I created the devel page was to eventually put more
material there, but I never got around to it. One contributor kindly provided some updates both to
live.debian.net and a patch which I still need to apply to our devel page on www.d.o which I will
review and finally apply by the weekend (my abject apologies for dragging my heels on that).

> And the second link on the page is:  Download releases: stable so let's try that...
> Hmm, directories:

I agree, for anyone other than developers involved in the project, that's not very nice and needs
to be addressed. Directories are *not* a nice way to present stuff to the end users.

> So, after all that we've suckered people in with the cute front page, and then comprehensively
> wasted their time, particularly if they went to effort of downloading only to find that they've
> made a coaster by trying to put too big an image on their CD.

Who is the "we" in this sentence? We (Debian) have tried to steer people in the right direction
and give them everything they need directly from the www.debian.org site, as is right and proper
for any official part of Debian. We (Debian Live development team) also some time ago thought it
would be nice to give the live.debian.net web site a facelift, and so you see the "friendly" front
page, which as you point out has some glaring faults still. But being a rather small team mostly
concerned with improving the live build toolchain, and personally, having taken on the jobs of
providing online support and ensuring the documentation is kept up-to-date with the rapid pace of
development, the live.debian.net project site itself has consistently gotten shuffled back to the
back burner. For my part in procrastinating further work on the site, my apologies. Again, it's
clear the site needs more work to steer users back to the right pages, and I'll commit such time
as I can to making it better for the wheezy release.

> I've heard the response that live.debian.net is actually supposed to be aimed at developers, so
> one shouldn't expect to find anything usable there for end users, which is fair enough, but in
> that case the front page should carry a prominent warning, and not have the cute icons.

I am not really keen on either placing a "prominent warning" or in making the site uglier, but
would favour some small changes to ensure that the user is steered to the material they need with
a minimum of fuss while the developers are steered to the material they need, thereby satisfying
both populations.

> It would be really nice to have working live CDs, preferably linked to From the front page
> along with the install CDs, accessible in one or two clicks.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I have put a lot of work into helping make the
live images themselves better in each release. On the other hand, the lion's share of my own
effort has gone into support of the live build toolchain and not the end users of the images
themselves. I think we (Debian) would need a stronger commitment to the official live images
themselves and the support of users using them to justify raising the profile of the live images
on www.debian.org. For one thing, the various desktop teams (lxde, xfce, gnome, kde) need to be
more involved as we near each release to ensure the user experience on the live images is at least
equal to the experience of installing via standard installer images. For another, our abortive
attempts to migrate over the official image builds over to Debian infrastructure need to bear
fruit. And finally, of course, the end-user support for Debian on the live images needs to be
there in the broader Debian support community, rather than being the sole domain of the Debian
Live team.

It is a bit late in the wheezy release cycle to fix all of these problems at once, but we can
start making things better one step at a time. At the very least, I will personally devote time to
fixing up both the www.debian.org and live.debian.net sites to make things less confusing. The
rest will follow as time and additional contributions from others allow.

> I realise that one problem with that is the mechanical manner in which the ISOs produced by
> Debian Live just include the relevant tasks, and there's just too much stuff in that list to
> fit on a CD these days, which presumably means that someone needs to decide which packages to
> strip out to make them fit.

Yes. That's a Debian tasks problem, not a Debian Live problem. I think that's firmly in the domain
of the individual desktop teams to solve.

> Actually, in the case of the gnome CD, I see that it has the gnome package on it, which of
> course drags in a load of stuff, rather than just gnome-core and perhaps selected other
> packages.  I'm not picking on gnome here BTW -- neither KDE nor XFCE fit either, so perhaps
> the problem is really that all the underlying X stuff is too big these days.


> Assuming that it's even possible to trim down the packages to fit on a CD, then perhaps a
> $DESKTOP-light or task-livecd-$DESKTOP package with a reduced set of dependencies from the
> default desktop package could be created, thus giving the Debian Live people a package to use
> for their CD images, and somewhere to report a bug when the resulting image creeps beyond the
> size of a CD.

That would be fantastic.

> I can report this as a bug if that helps, but it seems to me that the debian-live folk need to
> have a chat with all the desktop packagers and come up with a solution between you (or declare
> it impossible, and put a warning on the live.debian.net front page that only DVD-sized images
> are available if you want to run a GUI)

The warning is already there on http://www.debian.org/CD/live as I indicated above. The
live.debian.net just needs clearer pointers back to the right page.

Thanks for your attention to these problems. It is my hope that by wheezy we can make sufficient
headway on raising the profile of live images and providing unambiguous instructions to end-users
so we can finally end all of the confusion. I am wide open to further discussion, suggestions and
most importantly, help to achieve these ends.

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