Proposal to drop Ubuntu alternate CDs for 12.10

Steve Langasek steve.langasek at
Wed Aug 29 19:11:06 UTC 2012

Hi Andrea,

Thanks for the feedback.

We all understand that there are valid use cases that will not be addressed
as well in 12.10 without alternate CDs.  But there is a real cost to
developing, QAing, and releasing these images; we don't get them for free,
and we need to ask ourselves whether, by continuing to maintain them, we're
missing out on opportunities to spend the time doing other things better.

For a long time, the team has already intended to drop the Ubuntu alternate
images once ubiquity's disk support was complete; and the Kubuntu developers
have indicated that they are thinking along this same line.  The only
difference now is that I'm proposing we drop the alternate CDs while disk
support is one step short of "complete".

So we want to gather as much information as we can about how users are using
the alternate CD today and make sure we are directing users to suitable
replacements - or if there really is no suitable replacement, consider
whether those missing features are a sufficient reason to keep the alternate
CDs around.  But RAID support alone is not likely to be sufficient reason,
given the range of fallback solutions I already mentioned.

On Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 07:01:59AM +0300, a.grandi at wrote:
> On 28 August 2012 00:50, Steve Langasek <steve.langasek at> wrote:
> > As part of ongoing efforts to reduce the number of images we ship for
> > Ubuntu, and to make the desktop image more useful in a variety of scenarios,
> > Dmitrijs Ledkovs has been hard at work in quantal adding support for LVM,
> > cryptsetup, and RAID to ubiquity.

> For two valid reasons:

> 1) you can't imagine how many time the alternate installer saved my,
> when ubiquity wasn't able to boot on some computer.

If there are cases where the alternate CD boots and the desktop CD doesn't,
those are bugs that it's important to fix.  Users should get a good
experience when they download the CD that they're pointed at on the website; having the CD fail to boot and then be pointed to
download a *second* CD is not a good experience.  Nor is it a good
experience if they're handed a pre-pressed Ubuntu desktop CD and it fails to

If removing the crutch of the alternate CD causes users to actually *report*
the issues they're having with the desktop CD (because, btw, I'm not aware
of any outstanding reports that the desktop CD is not bootable), then that's
a *good* thing.  And if there are bugs with booting the desktop CD, then
some of the developer time saved by not maintaining the alternate CDs can be
used to make sure those bugs get fixed.

> 2) You need it to setup RAID and I don't want to risk to mess my data
> assembling a degraded RAID or something like that.

Sorry, but I don't find this persuasive.  First of all because there are
other ways to do the install that don't require you to assemble a degraded
RAID, if that's your concern; second, because when properly assembled, a
degraded RAID is no more dangerous than a non-RAID install; and third,
because at install time there's no data at risk because it's a fresh
install.  So aside from the fact that all the other options for installing
RAID on a desktop are a little more cumbersome than the alternate CD, which
is already known, this really comes down to personal preference.

On Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 12:49:27PM +0300, a.grandi at wrote:
> On 29 August 2012 12:04, Dmitrijs Ledkovs <dmitrij.ledkov at> wrote:
> > For the above to reasons you can use:

> > * mini or netinst or server images

> > Which are "Alternative Installer" without packages, the latest
> > versions will be retrieved over the network.

> > Are you doing installs where there is (i) no network available and
> > (ii) no local mirror available?

> yes, sometimes network is not available or we have a slow DSL
> connection (2 Mbit).
> We also have to make many installs. It's already a big work to
> download all updates, but if we had to download all packages due to a
> netinstall it would be even more hard.

If you're doing a large number of installs, then you should consider setting
up a local mirror (or caching apt proxy) and using preseeding.  This is
already best practice for large site installs, whether using alternate or
desktop CDs or netbooting.

Hope that helps,
Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                          
slangasek at                                     vorlon at
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