[Live-demo] Rethinking osgeo-live

Angelos Tzotsos gcpp.kalxas at gmail.com
Wed Oct 24 15:56:55 PDT 2012

Hi Barry and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

My comments inline:

On 10/25/2012 01:08 AM, Barry Rowlingson wrote:
> I've not really thought this through, but I'll put it out there for
> discussion...
> Would the effort spent on creating the osgeo-live disc be better spent
> creating a 'portable' set of compiled applications, for Linux, Mac,
> and Windows platforms?
This makes me wonder if we would be able to maintain such an effort, 
given that in our current base system (Ubuntu) we do not have every 
application packaged properly (deb). I am not sure we can skip this and 
offer binaries for every OS. More specifically we cannot be sure that 
our binaries will be compatible with every Linux flavor out there due to 
different versions of dependencies.
> The advantage would be that a user wanting to try something out would
> just copy the bits they wanted to their PC, and use their existing
> operating system. An installer would just copy what the user wanted
> and handle dependencies (much like osgeo4w, but multi-platform).
If something like this was easy, we would already have a common deb + 
rpm packaging environment and we would not have to worry about multiple 
The closest thing I can imagine here is OBS (open build service) that 
now supports both rpm and deb, but is not widely used for deb based 
distros. But there is no OSX and Win support in OBS.
> It would also be more likely to be usable on machines with a
> locked-down boot sequence. Our central IT people supply desktops with
> passworded BIOS settings and HD-before-DVD boot sequence. They also
> physically lock the cases. Killjoys.
This reminds me of a Richard Stallman speech about freedom :)
You should demand your freedom from the IT
> There would also be no need for admin privileges - something that
> blights system package management systems like apt and rpm.
> Is it also true that in the very near future PCs will have some kind
> of trusted boot system? So that alternate operating systems would
> require signing (or I read something about a signed mini-bootloader
> being developed to possibly get round this...). Will that effect live
> DVD boots? That could be a pain...
This will not be an issue, since we already respin Ubuntu in an official 
way. This means that the EFI solution implemented by Canonical will be 
available for OSGeoLive without any effort (hopefully)
> The disadvantages:
>   Loss of total control - we wouldn't know exactly what OS the programs
> were going onto, so documentation might look wrong.
>   Binary compatibility - how can you ensure your binaries work with
> assorted Linux versions? That might be the show-stopper here, although
> I'm pretty sure I've recently installed Linux software from
> one-size-fits-all binaries. Would the only compatibility be to do with
> libc and the kernel? I envisage practically everything being on there,
> including things like the Qt library and a JVM.
This will not work. For example, I recently got a bug report in openSUSE 
that the recent update of QGIS was not starting up.
I had fully tested the application before I published the new RPM so I 
was troubled. It turned out that this person had added a repository with 
rolling updates on KDE (including Qt) and QGIS was built with default Qt 
version in distribution. Imagine having this in larger scale....
>   There would be a need to re-tool all the osgeo-live development
> chain, and write an installer.
>   There would be three versions - Linux, Windows, Mac (or four if
> anyone wants to compile for OpenSolaris...)
> I just think there's greater longevity and value in the distribution
> of a collection of ready-to-run, run-anywhere packages than a live
> boot disk these days.
I think ready-to-run and run-anywhere is already here with this disk. 
What we don't have is run-in-your-favorite-OS. And I am already tempted 
to build a respin of OSGeoLive for openSUSE ;)
> Thoughts?
> Barry
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Angelos Tzotsos
Remote Sensing Laboratory
National Technical University of Athens

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