Installing recommends and the CD size

Michael Vogt mvo at
Thu Aug 14 16:26:55 BST 2008

On Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 03:55:54PM +0200, Martin Pitt wrote:
> Michael Vogt [2008-08-08 21:40 +0200]:
> > But it feels to me like we are also doing it now because of size
> > constrains on the CD. 
> That's actually not quite true. We didn't *drop* those extra
> features/packages, we just didn't *add* them now.
> That problem is not related at all to the semantics of Recommends,
> it has been existing forever in Ubuntu.

The end result is the same, the features are not available to the user
by default and its not easily discoverable what is missing in order to
get the features. I know that this problem exists since forever and I
think that recommends can help us solving it in a better way than

> > I would like to discsuss alternative solutions for this problem:
> > 
> > * we could make the CD image scripts not install recommends by
> > default and add a hook similar to the language pack downloads that
> > offers to download and install the missing bits. I think if we are
> > careful with what we allow in here the size that is going to be
> > downloaded is in the range of ~20mb (and its fully optional).
> That feels like a bad solution to me. Then the CD wouldn't provide a
> complete desktop any more, but people would feel urged to download
> lots of stuff afterwards and wonder why they just downloaded/installed
> a CD. It would make the CD less useful for offline installations.

Right now there are very few recommends on the CD and we demoted some
recommends to suggests in order to keep the size down. I'm absolutely
in favor of having a single CD as the default medium (if that wasn't
clear from my original mail, I applogoize). But I also think we should
not demote recommends to suggests for size reasons.

So maybe a middle ground would be best were some the recommends are
not put onto the CD (explicitely blacklisted in the cd building
scripts). The CD would be the same as it is now, but users who wonder
how to get upnp with rythmbox or quick search with synaptic would have
a easier time finding the packages (by clicking on a "Missing
recommends" filter in synaptic).
The downside I see with that is that a dvd install (that presumabily
would contain all the recommends) would look different than a CD

> > * we could build the CD without recommends and have additional dvd or
> > 1gb usb stick images that contain the missing recommends so that
> > people with more BW can just get those
> I'd rather provide a complete 1 GB install image than just an "addon"
> image, since it's much easier to handle. (Provided that we can afford
> the mirror space, etc.)

That is what I meant, sorry if that was unclear.
> However, given that we get quite a lot of feedback on CDs, and have
> trouble finding DVD testers, I'd like to keep the images as small as
> possible. I guess it's similar to websites, every additional 100 MB
> costs you so many (100K? million?) downloaders because it's too much
> for their bandwidth/quota.
> My feeling is that part of Ubuntu's success is that it is slick and
> small, not overloaded with features, quick to download, and has one
> tool for one purpose (our original design goal). I appreciate that we
> can't always follow the latter, since upstream imposes a lot of weird
> stuff on us (like forcing us to install three HTML rendering engines
> on CDs, xulrunner, gtkhtml, and now webkit, or quite a lot of
> programming languages (Mono, JRE, Python, etc), but our constant
> struggle for space forces us to stay aware of these issues, sort them
> out as soon as possible, and keeps us from building up too much cruft.
> As such, the limited CD space has its advantages, too.

I agree with that a big part of our success is that we ship on a
single CD and I want to keep it. If we add the approach outlined
above, then I think we even have a easier time because we can move
not-essential stuff to recommends and still have it easily
discoverable instead of demoting it.


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