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Re: lubuntu - minimal install or full featured lightweight distro


On Tue, 2009-05-19 at 14:20 +0800, Mario Behling wrote:
> Dear all,
> I would like to start a discussion about the goals of lubuntu, outline
> what I believe and get your feedback. This is an important question as
> we should include packages according to the goals.
> The usage case I see for lubuntu is a situation like in emerging
> countries where Internet availability or bandwidth is often limited
> and the power of CPU etc. is low. I was recently working with the
> community in Afghanistan. People usually download software through one
> person, for example in a company overnight, and then share it through
> a USB stick. So the size of the image is important but not the most
> important. To install and upload packages on a single computer is more
> difficult as bandwidth of personal users is limited. It is possible to
> use Internet, messengers and maybe listen to some music, but
> downloading larger updates and making net-installations is an issue.
> Looking at this case, I would like to see lubuntu as a distribution
> offering more applications than just a minimal install. A lubuntu
> image could be downloaded by one person and then easily distributed
> among many people having different usages cases. Currently we already
> have a minimal install of LXDE in Debian.
> If here is a choice among different solutions, we should choose the
> lightweight solutions. However, we also need to look at the support of
> translations for example to make lubuntu a widely adapted distro. It
> is important to include applications that support many languages.
> Defining these goals, it becomes clear - there are many compromises.
> But as we go on with the project and will release new versions, we are
> always able to adapt our decisions.
> The question of lubuntu is:
> 1. Either we want to make it a minimal install or
> 2. we want to make it a lightweight alternative to full featured distros.
> I vouch for the second.
> What do you think?

The lack of ready access to the Internet does make #1 above less useful
for a desktop user. So, I agree more with #2, given your stated goal. 

Some questions & thoughts come to mind:

* What is the minimal image (set of packages) that can be called Ubuntu?
In other words, what functionality of Ubuntu must we have? Related to
   * Is it Canonical that decides what the minimum set of packages is in
order for it to be called an official *buntu derivative?
   * Is this documented somewhere, in a fashion similar to the Debian
Policy Manual?
   I admit to ignorance on the above questions.

* As a stage in development, should we do #1 anyway? If it minimal
install is defined as Ubuntu server + LXDE or a subset of LXDE's
components, then that is pretty straight forward. If we are talking
about reworking Ubuntu desktop, or starting at a more basic level, then
a solid minimal installation should be the starting point for further
development. Even if what we all we are doing is subtracting packages,
and thus functionality, that we decide we do not need, a mistake here is
painful later when the system lacks something needed by the users.

I just did a quick web search on 9.10 Karmic Koala, and I see that the
server will have features like cloud computing. Perhaps that is not
appropriate to the goals stated above? In that case, we may need to
carefully define the base on which we will build.

* Given our lead time, should we start tracking 9.10 as a reference,
rather than 9.04?

* If we expand our goal to include other situations (e. g., installation
to a VM, small installation to a USB flash, etc.) then #1 becomes more
useful in and of itself.

> Best,
> Mario
> PS: The option to have a choice of software to install is a good idea
> for following releases as well, but requires more competences that we
> need to build up, I guess.

The situation you describe makes me wonder about updates to existing
installations. If we assume that a significant portion of installed
Lubuntu systems will be used offline, how do we propagate updates to

Is there some sort of asynchronous updating application that can
automate the process of scanning an installed system, cataloguing the
installed packages, and then later connect to the Internet to determine
needed updates? Then the entire bundle of updated packages for an
installed system could be downloaded and brought back to the installed
system at a later date.

If there is no such application, or if it is not a feature of an
existing one like synaptic, then is it something we could develop?

I'm old enough to know about updating a lab or a business via "sneaker
net" and floppy disks, because I did often enough, years ago. A suppose
a more modern version would involve a satchel of USB flash drives and a
bicycle, scooter, or bus ticket.


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