[conspire] (real) Installfest in a Box

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Jun 16 01:43:43 PDT 2009

Quoting Grant Bowman (grantbow at gmail.com):

> OK, let me ask explicitly as I thought that I remember you saying
> something similar which is where I got the idea.  Did you mention any
> "In a Box" concepts at any time this weekend?  If so, what were they?

I mentioned that (at least when the concept is tested, though I might
not have voiced that qualifier) that it might be nice to build it into a
live CD and make that available so that it could be used more widely.

Somebody immediately made the inevitable "Knoppix" suggestion, to which
I commented that Knoppix actually isn't a distribution very well
designed for remastering, and that there are much better choices.  Then,
I left it there, since the discussion seemed to be teetering dangerously
close to geek toy neepery, software division.

> Here's what I'm planning right now.
> 1. start with a debian-501-i386-netinst.iso install to a virtualbox image.
> 2. add some packages, writing down each step as I go.
> 3. begin work on a flossmanuals.net - Thanks for the suggestion Ed.

I personally regard the term "FLOSS" as a sad (_and_ actively harmful)
marketing travesty, and decline to do anything at all to encourage it.
So, if Ed wants my participation with that site, he'll need to start by
reversing the brain damage of its name -- which, of course, he's not
going to do, so that's the end of it.

Ed knows this, but he keeps pushing that site at me (among others), as
if I weren't serious.  However, as usual, I actually did mean precisely
what I said, on that matter.  I was and am entirely serious.  Really.
"Actively harmful" and all.

More at:  http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=882

> 4. research hardware options similar to http://fit-pc2.com/ as a
> target platform, also keeping in mind using an older machine with a
> wifi card, a network port and a CD-Burner.

Experience suggests that choice of CPU/motherboard is the least important 

> Rick, would any of these actions not be in line with a project in
> which you might want to become involved someday in some capacity?

Well, I'm not going to be submitting anything to flossmanuals.net.

As to the rest:  Sounds rather overcomplicated, from where I'm sitting.
I think all you really need for starters is some old box and some
tinkering time, and then try out whatever prototype you create at a few
install events, to see what works and what needs improvement.

As I said, it's not like setting up ISC DHCPd, Apache httpd, PXE boot
server, and so on is difficult.  I suspect most of the effort's going to
be writing "Why to pick distro X" Web pages.  

But I could be wrong.  Which is one reason one does prototypes.

> Thank you for further expanding on your idea regarding install media
> that we talked about. My thought was to combine the features of the
> installfest network with a self serve bring-your-own media burner as
> it's all the same bits required.

Might work.  Two things:  (1) People never seem to bring their own blank
media, even when I stress over and over that they can burn disks on my
burner.  (2) Optical write-capable drives have a pretty low MTBF,
relatively speaking.  Which means someone needs to bankroll getting a
new one, from time to time.

At my house, I've been the guy, for that.  The cost is tolerable, in
part because I _don't_ operate a self-serve kiosk and shell out for a
new drive every time one dies.  You see the point, I'm sure.

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