Platform vs Product [Was: Re: Moving w3m out of standard]

Soren Hansen soren at
Mon Jun 23 15:03:14 UTC 2008

On Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 09:50:09AM -0400, Jamie Strandboge wrote:
> It's clear to me what is really being discussed is should Ubuntu
> Server be a platform or a product akin to Ubuntu Desktop? Both are
> valid and useful, but *distinct*.

Very good point.

> To quote Soren: Ubuntu is "about making everything more useful by
> default". 

Not surprising, I agree with this :)  I think I should point out that I
don't think just installing more packages is going to make anything more
useful. If you know the name of a command, with command-not-found,
you're even told which command to run to install the package, you're
missing, so this is really the least interesting part of the discussion.

It's true that 99.9% of the changes we can make, we do by making changes
to packages. (The remaing 0.1% would be in CD building process and
such). This makes it easy to get caught up in stuff like how we can make
tiny changes to each package to make it just a few percent more useful.
This is all good stuff, and these changes can get us a long way, but
things don't start to get really interesting until we take a step back
and consider in a more broad perspective what we want to achieve, and
how we can use the tools we have to do it.

For Hardy we tried to get postfix and dovecot to integrate with each
other by default. For various reasons this never came to be, but it's a
rather good example of the kind of stuff we can do because we control
are the suppliers of both pieces of software.

My ssh-login-to-screen idea a few e-mails ago is another example. It
might be silly, but it's an example of thinking outside the confines of
single packages, and considering the software stack as more a whole.

> I absolutely agree with this, and through discussion, things like
> screen and other software, where appropriate and after thorough
> review, should be part of Ubuntu Server's default installation. This
> functionality and integration work is what gets at the heart of what
> Ubuntu is-- "Linux for Human Beings".

I wholeheartedly agree. To a great extent, Ubuntu Server is like Debian,
but with some patches, a release schedule, support options, and
dedicated ressources. This is good, but it could be much, much better.
There's a *lot* of potential for improvement.

> On the other hand, there is a clear need to have an install method for
> server that is minimal, or platform oriented.

Quite true. In our integration efforts we need to also keep in mind that
folks might want to use a different combination of packages, so the
coupling should be rather loose.

> Right now, the mini ISO, the alternate CD, JeOS and the current server
> CD all approach this from different angles, but come close to the same
> end result (though, IIRC, you end up with a different kernel in
> each).

Alternate and the mini ISO will get you the same kernel. JeOS uses the
virtual kernel, and the server CD gets you the server kernel.
Additionally JeOS doesn't install standard, AFAIR, but only minimal, but
yes, their end result is rather similar.

> I suggest we have on the server CD a boot option like 'linux minimal'
> (this has been suggested/implied elsewhere in this thread).  This
> might simply be ubuntu-standard with the server kernel and a note that
> mentions running tasksel for additional packages (but this will need
> to be discussed).


Soren Hansen               | 
Virtualisation specialist  | Ubuntu Server Team
Canonical Ltd.             |
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