One ISO To Rule Them All

Registered by Walter Lapchynski on 2015-02-11

Lubuntu has two images: Desktop (`ubiquity` installer) and Alternate (`debian-installer`). We recommend the latter for low-spec machines, which are naturally a major focus of our existence. However, no other team uses it the way we do and when we have problems, they're often difficult to fix because of this. Maintaining two sets of images is also a pain. What we need is a lightweight frontend for `ubiquity`.

 1. Standard in the Ubuntu family
 2. Low resource usage (especially memory)
 3. No Internet requirement
 4. Small enough to be distributed by CD
 5. Walks new users through the process

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Lubuntu Council
Walter Lapchynski
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Lubuntu Product Managers
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[wxl] It looks like 14.04.2 is facing some issues that will likely result in Alternate not being released for this milestone. The issues that affect Desktop affect everyone, so the Release Team must fix these. If the same fix doesn't apply to Alternates, though, that creates a problem. The Team will still attempt to fix it, but there's no guarantees. At least with LTS images for folks using Alternate, the HWE stack is probably not necessary, but it illustrates the problem.

Two possible solutions were discussed with Adam Conrad (infinity):
 1. netboot/mini.iso (which, of course, requires an Internet connection and that may be asking a lot)
 2. Changing `ubiquity` somehow to minimize resource usage. As an example, making a text-only frontend, but making it part of the project, rather than something separate. Perhaps we could get Server to help out here? Perhaps other flavors would be interested?

[wxl] gilir (if I may speak for him after we had a private message) is in support of this cause. He feels `ubiquity` is a very complex piece of software and would rather not touch it, so that leaves us with netboot/mini.iso.

It seems that the issue with LTS is that there is this transition from tasks to metapackages for X. Changes to tasks don't get picked up on after release, so metapackages are ultimately the go to solution. Still, tasks have their value, so the future is uncertain, but we'll likely continue to have these problems in the future. This cannot be fixed the same way in desktop as it can in alternate. There's no need to fix it in server because they don't have X packages.

So for 14.04.2, we will likely not have any alternates. My concern is that we'll continue to face this over and over again: wasted testing time trying to fix something that only we care about.

On the other hand, mini.iso is not without it's issues:
 1. An internet connection is required. In the 3rd world, a decent internet connection is a luxury, and yet that is likely where Lubuntu is most needed for old machines.
 2. It's terribly unfriendly. Imagine the people that would need it the most. They're the folks with an old XP machine that needs some love. They've never used Linux before. Yeah, they're probably not going to have a fun time.
 3. Ethernet only.
 4. It's possible to build a broken install.

These are not small issues. In a sense, these are almost worse. So perhaps we deal with occasionally not having alternates. If it's going to be an issue, it's likely to be with LTS point releases, and there are solutions around that. They result in long update times, but that seems like a much smaller price to pay.

What we really need to do is change `ubiquity`, but i'm not sure that we can get help from the Server Team, other flavors, etc.

[wxl] I've reopened this to be the place for a lightweight `ubiquity`.

One Button Installer has been presented, but I think that suffers the same problems as all of the others and is probably the most non-standard and user-unfriendly.

[joern-schoenyan] There is an installer called Calamares, which is designed to work independent of the distribution. Unfortunately, I'm not able to package (and then, test) it - I tried it, but there were issues with the partitionmanager plugin I could not resolve.

[wxl] My concern with Calamares is that it's even less standard than anything else. That and, if it already has issues, that's going on the wrong direction :)


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