[arch-releng] Things beyond 2009.01/02

Gerhard Brauer gerbra at archlinux.de
Sun Feb 1 11:52:10 EST 2009

I have some points we could/should discuss after the upcoming ISO is
finally released. So this are things which affect eventually 2009.04.

a) Number of different ISOs/Images:
We have currently 10 different mediums to install Arch Linux. I like to
reduce them for better and easier building and maintenance. Archiso
based mediums are both installation and Live-CD mediums. IMHO a user
who will install the system uses such a ISO/Img only once, for the
installation and maybe to correct errors during installations. These
users like small ISOs/Images. For users who would use the mediums for
ex. as Live-CD/Maintenance we offer to few tools and programs on this
Another point is the ISO bootloader. We have add already isolinux cause
grub has boot problems on a not so few count of PCs.

My suggestion on this is: For the core/ftp CD-ISOs we use only isolinux
as bootloader. This will boot on all PCs and these mediums a mostly
used only for system installation. So we also could keep them small.
The USB-Images still should have grub as bootloader (I currently don't
know if iso/syslinux work on them and we never have a reported problem
about USB images and grub).
Also i like to see a combined i686/x86_64 medium, as we produced one
for the FrosCon-ISO. The necessary framework is already available for
archiso. This ISO/Image has naturally a bigger size. My idea is now to
full-fill the remaining space on a cd with programs which are usefully
to use this mediums as a base maintenance ISO - for both architectures.
And on this we should use grub as ISO bootloader cause we need/benefit
here from grub's flexibility above isolinux.

Doing this (and using isolinux for core/ftp-ISOs) we would end in a
medium count of 9 different mediums (4 x CD-ISOs, 4 x USB-Images, 1
combined). That is still a big count...

Other think-games:
- Kicking core or ftp. Both alternatives have disadvantages: ftp is
  small and offers a up to date system during/after install. Core gives
  a bootable systems also when no internet access during installation.
  But we will end in a medium count of 5.
- Also offer combined mediums (i686 and x86_64) for each core/ftp ISO
  and USB image. Disadvantage: the download size for each medium is
  greater, so one who would only install Arch Linux have to download
  many Megabytes he probably not and never need. But this would reduce
  medium count also to 5 but we could have separate core and ftp

b) Release "branding"
Should we have release names? Should we have the release versions (ex.
2009.02) in the splash screens (grub, isolinux) and maybe in /etc/issue?
Background is: User should be able to identify which ISO release he
currently uses. Having the release version only on ISO/Img-File is
sometimes not enough.
Release naming is "neet", but are we able/willing to think about nice
names? Document the release versions in splash screens/shell overview
is quiet easy, but we have to automate this by a script. Otherwise
these changes will be surely forgotten sometimes....

c) Installer switch
IMHO we are common to try aif as the next installer. So testing should
begin closely after 2009.01/02 release. That's also a reason why i
would not fix each minor thing or add features to current
archlinux-installer for 2009.01/02 if we maybe kick it next months.

d) Accessibility support on install mediums
There were a discussion on arch-general about that (and the needed
tools and modifications sounds not a big work), Aaron brought up an
idea with additional speak output, so this supports not only braille
reader users. We must see if we could at this support smoothly into the
current mediums or if maybe a separate ISO is needed.

e) Testing and documentation
IMHO we should document such things as archiso's work-flow, HowTo for
ISO/image building and releasing steps. Also things like torrent setup
And improve our (pre)testing procedures to avoid such things like
grub-gfx error on x86_64 in the future. This have to be found on our
side before public testing! But i think we all have learned much during
the process of releasing 2009.01/02 what crude things could get broken.
And that Murphy is still alive ;-)

OK, these are the things I mean which await us next releases, we should
mention about. Of course we/you will found more...


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