Do live Debian images have a future?

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Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby None1975 » 2017-06-26 17:15

This is from debian@devel.list.debian.org
[ Note the cross-posting... ]

Hey folks,

Background: we released live images for Stretch using new tooling,namely live-wrapper. It is better than what we had before (live-build)in a number of ways, particularly in terms of build reliability and some important new features (e.g. UEFI support). But it's also less mature and has seen less testing. There have been bugs because of that. I have fixes for most of the ones I know about, and I'm still working on more bugfixes yet. While the bugs are annoying, what worries me more is that they were only spotted in release builds. There had been testing versions of live images available for multiple weeks beforehand, presumably with the same bugs included. (Almost) none of them reported. This shows that we don't have enough people using these live images and/or caring about filing bugs. We have a similar lack of involvement in terms of the content of the live images. As I said above, I'm happy that we now have a reliable tool for building our live images - that makes my life much easier. But I honestly have no idea if the multiple desktop-specific live images are actually reasonable representations of each of the desktops. For example, I *seriously* hope that normal KDE installations are not effected by #865382 like our live KDE images. Validation by the various desktop teams would be useful here. The current situation is *not* good enough. I ended up getting involved in live image production because the images needed making, and I was already the main person organising production of Debian's official images. To be frank, I had (and still have) no direct use for the live images myself and I don't *particularly* care about them all that much. Despite that, I've ended up spending a lot of time working
on them. A few other people have also spent a lot of time working in this area - thanks are due to those people too. But it's still not enough. If our live images are going to be good enough to meet the standards that Debian users deserve and expect, we need *consistent*, *sustained* involvement from a lot more people. Please tell me if you're going to help. If we don't see a radical improvement soon, I'll simply disable building live images altogether to remove the false promises they're making.

Now guys, what you thinking about? For me, live iso is useless...
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby milomak » 2017-06-26 19:20

given they have uefi support, i will try one out
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby GarryRicketson » 2017-06-26 19:25

So that people can see what really was written,...
Here is a link that works:
https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2017/06/msg00335.html

I am confused by this:
Now guys, what you thinking about? For me, live iso is useless

Who said that ?

One thing that is clear, those of us that do find Live images useful, if we want
to keep having them, some people need to start helping out with this.
Steve McIntyre>> There had been testing versions of
live images available for multiple weeks beforehand, presumably with
the same bugs included. (Almost) none of them reported. This shows
that we don't have enough people using these live images and/or caring
about filing bugs.

Here is my excuse, I did try a live image, but it actually was several months
before the recent release, and I did not encounter any of the problems
that showed up in the release. So no problems, nothing to report.
Some things must have changed, during the time after I downloaded one, but before the release.
I have noticed here on the forum, we have a lot of members wanting to use
the Debian testing, but seem to have next to none or no interest in helping, and using it the way it is intended, many (me included) do not have the skill to fix the bugs, but instead of crying here, when things don't work they should be communicating with the developers, let them know what iso/image they are using, and exactly what the problem is.
Lately, with the new release, and not just the Live Images, but generally I have seen many "complaints", Disappointed, because the "free meal" was not good enough for them,....... Not one of the complainers asked how they could help to
improve Debian, or at least help keep it as reliable as the past versions, not one
of them.
It is starting to look like if the Debian users want a better OS, then more of them
need to pitch in and start trying to help, some may feel the Live Iso's are of no use, but those that understand the many uses of a Live boot CD or USB device
do need to start trying to help, and also let the developers know it is important
to them.
Last note, : this should have been posted in Debian Development , maybe
a mod can move it ? Thank you.
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby ruffwoof » 2017-06-26 19:55

What with this along with the SystemD split (Devuan), its perhaps little wonder things aren't 'up to standard' and help/support has dwindled. I don't know the actual figures but it does feel that increasingly more packages/programs are falling into unsupported.

If the Debian trunk falters, the knock on effect to the branches will be (in the Chinese sense) 'interesting'.
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby dasein » 2017-06-26 22:23

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Thoughts, in no particular order...

- Live images serve a couple of specific purposes, and a limited audience. (N.B. "limited" does not mean "unimportant"!)

- IIRC, Debian Live images had serious installation issues long before UEFI, and long before the switch to "live-wrapper." Bugs that simply were not present in standard installation images plagued Debian Live images, and those bugs remained largely unaddressed.

- One of the audiences for Live images is people looking to "test-drive" a distro in order to assess features and/or hardware compatibility. These people aren't looking to do QA for Debian, file bug reports, or jump though lots of extra hoops (e.g., disabling UEFI) in order to achieve their goal. They download the Live image, it doesn't work, they don't care why, NEXT! This constituency has been unserved/underserved for quite some time now.

- Another prime audience for Live images are people who want to do a specific respin, and not all of those folks necessarily run Debian themselves. If an interactive "live builder" is available online, it's moderately well-hidden. Which leads me to my next point...

- Asking for feedback regarding the future of Live images after "weeks" of availability strikes me as deeply disingenuous. (In fact, the entire narrative strikes me as something carefully crafted to elicit "let it die" responses.) The entire Stretch release seems to have shipped with a fair number of troubling problems, only some of which are specific to Live media. To implicitly blame all of the Live issues on insufficient QA time is a red herring.

- Debian Live images have spent a long time being incompatible with contemporary hardware, and I'm pretty sure that the rest of the world neither knows nor cares that Debian has finally joined the ranks of distros whose Live media support UEFI. I wonder aloud if Debian Live images simply have too bad a reputation among potential respinners to be taken seriously anymore (particularly compared to something like SUSE's OBS).

I feel like I have another point niggling at me, but this is probably enough grist for the mill.

Edited for clarity
Last edited by dasein on 2017-06-27 13:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby MALsPa » 2017-06-26 22:51

Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby ruffwoof » 2017-06-26 23:55

dasein wrote:- One of the audiences for Live images is people looking to "test-drive" a distro in order to assess features and/or hardware compatibility. These people aren't looking to do QA for Debian, file bug reports, or jump though lots of extra hoops (e.g., disabling UEFI) in order to achieve their goal. They download the Live image, it doesn't work, they don't care why, NEXT!

- Another prime audience for Live images are people who want to do a specific respin, and not all of those folks necessarily run Debian themselves.

I use data concentricity. For me my data, stored in a open manner (for instance RTF rather than a specific program/system format), securely, is the most valuable/irreplaceable and my PC along with offline/remote data storage/copies is the priority. Systems such as Debian (and others) are just a easily replaced means to access that data and liveCD's are just one of many tools to achieve that. With a liveCD you can boot the exact same instance each and every time, such as a pristine factory fresh image ... typically refined to ones personal requirements (locale etc.) before being cast (burnt to CD).

I appreciate that the majority tend to use system concentricity, but to me that opens up reliance and too much focus upon that (sometimes at the expense of risking data security). I would feel uncomfortable doing online banking using a system concentric choice that had previously been used to browse here-there-everywhere and potentially been adversely modified (hacked). As a example one of my boot choices is a cut down Debian Standard ... a initrd, vmlinuz and a 150MB main squashed filesystem ... that boots to command line. From there I can apt-get install xorg jwm pcmanfm firefox-esr and on a 100Mb link have a pristine gui desktop ready to access my data or do other stuff very quickly and all totally within ram. I can boot a wide range of other systems relatively easily using different approaches such that the loss of any one (Debian Live) is trivial ... but not irrelevant.

Would the loss of Debian Live bother me? Yes and no. Mostly I see it as just being another nail in the coffin - pushing Debian downwards from being the top, pushing more away, where a trickle can rapidly turn into a torrent. The main lead liveCD developer was pushed out. SystemD pushed others out. Naturally with each push fewer are available to potentially recruit maintainers/developers from ... a death spiral. The suggestion that livecd will be killed off due to lack of developers/testers looks to be yet another self inflicted wound.

Perhaps Debian should start pulling packages/programs having no maintainers rather than showing increasing numbers of programs available in the repository. Around 1500 in that list, perhaps many with other modules. As that might provide a indication over time of the extent of the decay.
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby golinux » 2017-06-27 02:54

ruffwoof wrote:Perhaps Debian should start pulling packages/programs having no maintainers rather than showing increasing numbers of programs available in the repository. Around 1500 in that list, perhaps many with other modules. As that might provide a indication over time of the extent of the decay.

Just because a package in not being 'maintained' does not mean it is not being used. Some packages are so well done they don't need 'improvements' - they just work. The fact that 'progress' tries to push them out to take control (think pulseaudio/systemd) is a sad testament to the current state of Debian and Linux in general. Users who don't have a clue, devs who will sacrifice principle to convenience and corporate interests who want to take the freedom out of free software . . . RESIST or suffer the consequences!
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby Danielsan » 2017-06-27 19:59

MALsPa wrote:Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?


Because the other distros support only a limited group of CPUs.
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby dasein » 2017-06-27 21:08

Danielsan wrote:
MALsPa wrote:Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?

Because the other distros support only a limited group of CPUs.

Nope. Debian's Live images only support Intel-type chips.

Which leaves MALsPa's pointed and pertinent question hanging...
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby golinux » 2017-06-27 21:44

MALsPa wrote:Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?

Because they might be using refractainstaller rather than the debian installer? The Debian installer is a temperamental beast
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby Danielsan » 2017-06-27 21:55

dasein wrote:
Danielsan wrote:
MALsPa wrote:Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?

Because the other distros support only a limited group of CPUs.

Nope. Debian's Live images only support Intel-type chips.

Which leaves MALsPa's pointed and pertinent question hanging...


My bad... :oops:
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby dilberts_left_nut » 2017-06-28 02:41

MALsPa wrote:Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?

Because they have someone with time and interest to devote to the project.

Seems it is not a high priority for Debian.
Whether it should be is debatable - Debian Live used to be a third party project, maybe it should be again?

As with a lot of aspects, you can do whatever you want with the system Debian provides (including generating live images), but it dosen't mean that it will necessarily be provided just the way you want.
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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby dasein » 2017-06-28 05:06

dilberts_left_nut wrote:
MALsPa wrote:Seems like other distros' live/install images work fine. Why not Debian's?

Because they have someone with time and interest to devote to the project.

This was what was niggling at me. (My thanks to MALsPa and d_l_n.)

The Live images used to be an official or non-offfical, depending on who you asked, third party effort. Some folks found the guy who ran it to be tough to work with, but everyone who worked with him spoke of his passion and devotion to the effort. Rightly or wrongly, he was forced out of his position and the Live images were taken over by someone else.

That very same "someone else" is the author of the quote in the initial post, who says in so many words that he doesn't care about the Live images, and by inference, neither does he care about the constituencies they serve.

dilberts_left_nut wrote:Seems it is not a high priority for Debian.

Certainly not for its current maintainer. He clearly admits that he doesn't care, in so many words

dilberts_left_nut wrote:Debian Live used to be a third party project, maybe it should be again?

Yeah, 'cause that worked so well last time.

And that's the thing: the current maintainer acquired the project by force, and now he's whining about how much work it is. And according to him only two possible solutions exist: he gets his way (and fast!) or he single-handedly deprives Debian of Live media.

Wow. False-dichotomy much?

The very fact that he phrased it this way shows his contempt for Live media, and for the users they serve. And he does this whole phony "cry for help" to an audience of other devs. (Yeah, cause they all have such a load of free time on their hands. :roll:)

I dunno what this guy's problem(s) with Live media (or its constituents?) are, but this project clearly needs to belong to someone who actually gives a tiny spit, which this guy admits he doesn't.

But given how badly the last external maintainer was treated, whodafugg would volunteer for that gig?

So unless someone convinces this guy to grow up, it looks like Debian will lose its Live image presence.

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Re: Do live Debian images have a future?

Postby deborah-and-ian » 2017-06-28 06:41

dasein wrote:[T]he current maintainer acquired the project by force, and now he's whining about how much work it is. And according to him only two possible solutions exist: he gets his way (and fast!) or he single-handedly deprives Debian of Live media.

Wow. False-dichotomy much?

The very fact that he phrased it this way shows his contempt for Live media, and for the users they serve. And he does this whole phony "cry for help" to an audience of other devs. (Yeah, cause they all have such a load of free time on their hands. :roll:)

I dunno what this guy's problem(s) with Live media (or its constituents?) are, but this project clearly needs to belong to someone who actually gives a tiny spit, which this guy admits he doesn't.

But given how badly the last external maintainer was treated, whodafugg would volunteer for that gig?

So unless someone convinces this guy to grow up, it looks like Debian will lose its Live image presence.


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