Foresight, rPath, LiveCD, and Unity Linux

Most, if not all, top distributions of Linux ship a live CD that allows an end user to preview the operating system without installing it.

Foresight Linux is the exception.

Now, this isn’t because they don’t WANT to have a Live CD…they do.  The problem is that rPath, the creators of rBuilder Online, have discontinued the Live CD image creation type.

There was no announcement…no news posting…no clue dart thrown toward Foresight for this discontinuation.  There was only a comment on a single bug in the rPath issue tracker just this past May…Formally discontinued…which in my opinion, is a HUGE mistake as far as community goes.  Why? Because a community is a solid base on which to stand for any distribution or toolset for open source.  rPath has essentially dismissed a feature that the community would find valuable and in the process alienated anyone who finds this feature valuable or desirable.  But I’m not here to talk about whether or not people want to develop their own distributions on rBuilder Online using rPath tools nor the incentive to do so…I’m talking about Foresight. 

So, what incentive does rPath have to help Foresight by fixing it?  Not much…I’m sure there will be those that argue: “rPath has customers and their first allegiance needs to be to them” and those people would be right.  But can’t the Foresight community pick up the torch for Live CD building  on rBO and develop it as a community effort?  Can’t a license be found that it can be released under that would prevent forking?  Can’t it be modularized as a ‘plug-in’? I don’t pretend to know the answer to those questions…I just think that Foresight will continue to suffer as they have been for many, many months now with respect to not having a Live CD.

I’m sure that there will also be those out there saying “but Foresight has a bunch of Virtualized Images to choose from!! No one really cares about a Live CD!!” and I’d say you’re halfway correct.  Developers don’t really care about a Live CD…but those that Foresight attempted to attract…the end user…they DO care about having something they can ‘try before they buy’.  It is my belief that Foresight would be a crap-ton more popular if they had a Live CD.

So What Solutions Are There?

I don’t think rPath will suddenly fix the broken Live CD creation in rBO.  I don’t think they’ll release the code anytime soon (though this is more likely than a fix).  So in the meantime, what if Foresight helped out with LiveCD project that recently was taken over by Unity Linux?  Both Unity and Foresight are Red Hat like distributions and use similar file structures and OS organization.  I think that if Foresight were able to integrate LiveCD onto the distribution, a huge niche would be filled.

Where to Start?

Being involved both with Foresight Linux and Unity Linux gives me a unique perspective on what areas of collaboration could be developed.  One thing is for sure…having both distro development teams onboard would be a huge boon to LiveCD development…and Foresight could suck in SRPMs quite easily from Unity to hit the ground running right away.

I am by no means offering to be the head of this project because I can’t even begin to know where it would start or finish.  I’m just offering a workaround to a problem I’ve seen Foresight have for longer than it should have.  I know the Unity Linux guys would welcome anyone wanting to get involved with helping LiveCD development.  Would Foresight be open to this?  I can’t answer.  I hope so…Foresight needs a Live CD if it hopes to attract more people to it…and that’s something I’m keen on seeing.  Is this something you’d like to see as well?

[poll id=”2″]

Why I Hate Mainstream

Linuxquestions.org has announced the winners of its members choice 2004 awards for Linux and open source. Upon hearing, I visited the site and slowly scrolled down the list nodding my head every so often, sometimes shaking my head where I disagree. Then I arrived at a category I actually know a little bit about…Live CD’s. Knoppix?!? Again!?!? Ok…let’s think this through. Perhaps it deserves it…afterall, X number of system admins swear by it. However, to me, this isn’t what a Live CD is about.

IMHO, a Live CD is about trying out Linux…not just rescue functions or data recovery. It’s about being able to run an entire operating system as read only from your CD-ROM. It’s about showing the power that Linux has. It’s about having an entire desktop with all the eye candy fixins in sub-5 minutes to attract new users. In a sense, it is a “try before you buy”…in this case download. It’s about detection, installation, configuration, and automation. While Knoppix does a good job on this…actually it wrote the book on it…there are those distributions out there that now PUMMEL Knoppix in detection. Two that come to mind are PCLinuxOS and MEPIS.

I figured that PCLinuxOS would be the major player at this years members choice award…mainly for the reason that it really advanced this year at distrowatch.com. In 2003, it was 44th. In 2004, it skyrocketed to 9th. That’s the fastest moving Linux distribution that is currently being tracked by Distrowatch. So, when I read Knoppix as the choice…I was surprised. Then I thought about it for a minute, isolated the real problem, and became a bit ticked off.

This isn’t about choice and it definately isn’t about a Live CD…it sure isn’t about the best. It’s about the most popular. Unfortunately, this is becoming the ‘in thing’ for open source. Linux has become chic. Well, maybe shabby chic. Nonetheless, Linux has arrived mainstream and brings entoe all of the things (good or bad) something that goes mainstream will bring with it.

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The List of LiveCD’s

I’ve been investigating making a Live CD lately. The reason for this is that I could strip down my favorite Live CD version…put a few mp3’s I like in a ‘music’ file on the desktop…and bring it with me wherever I go. Then I have tunes and my favorite apps on a nice slim Live CD. Not a bad idea if you think about it.

One of the resources I found was a very large list that frozentech has been compiling full of practically every single Live CD distribution available. What a great resource! Interestingly enough, just about every single LiveCD out there can be ‘stripped’ down to include or not include anything you want. This makes it very simple to make your own CD…so I decided to look into it for making customized mp3 Live CD’s or Office CD’s with templates. For info on making your own Live CD, try the following websites:

Hope this list entices you to try out building a Live CD for yourself. I plan on incorporating a nice IceWM LiveCD with rescue tools/forensic tools installed to serve as my own “Ultimate Boot CD”.