LiveCD Future

Alexander E. Patrakov patrakov at
Wed Oct 15 20:53:12 PDT 2008

Jeremy Huntwork wrote:
> Hello,
> I know that we've talked about this before but given the events of the 
> past year or so, I'd like to revisit this briefly.
> Alexander and I have been talking and we're trying to take a very 
> realistic approach to any efforts made to re-enliven the LiveCD project.
> Without going into too many details of our own concerns and ideas about 
> the future of the project (yet), I'd appreciate some feedback/opinions 
> concerning the usefulness of the LiveCD.
> This thread is not designed to spark feature requests. Whatever 
> direction we pursue, the LiveCD (or at least the main one) will aim to 
> be fairly simple. The purpose of this thread is to see at what level are 
> LiveCDs beneficial or useful to the community, especially the {,B}LFS 
> editors so that we can modify the core goals and aims of the project for 
> future efforts.

Let me explain the reasoning behind the original feature creep. The 
problem is that there are many communities with different needs (and not 
all of them read {b,}lfs-dev), and that they WILL spark feature requests.

English-speaking editors can do well with a console-only CD. They can 
read the book, run jhalfs, and use or download packages, because a 
static IP behind the router or DHCP is a common setup in 
English-speaking countries.

OTOH, in Russia, many people prefer reading Russian documentation, e.g., 
from Thus, they need some means to enter and read their 
characters - i.e., kbd and a script to choose the keymap, screen font 
and locale at boot time. Many Russian ISPs require authenticated 
connections like PPPoE or, even worse, PPTP. In rural areas, GPRS is the 
only way to get connected, so it should be easy to set up. Note that, 
without a network connection, the CD is useless for those wanting to try 
an updated version of the book.

In China and Japan, I guess, the same preference for reading 
documentation in the native language applies. But one needs X, fonts 
and input methods in order to perform this task. Vesa-only setup is not 
good for people with CRT monitors (and there are still such people), 
because 60 Hz refresh on CRT can cause permanent damage to the eyes (and 
if I ship such setup in Russia, I will be fined by the Ministry of 
Healthcare). Thus, there is a need for video driver autodetection. The 
one built into Xorg is not reliable enough on ATI cards, thus I had to 
write my own script.

Then there appeared blind people who need brltty and/or speakup, that 
required a kernel patch from GIT or changing the kernel version, and 
this software came with its own bugs to patch out.

The bottom line is that you either have to answer "yes" to all doable 
feature requests, or set a different policy and send some people 
somewhere else (e.g., to Knoppix). But the second alternative 
immediately brings up the question "why do we need LFS LiveCD when 
Knoppix exists and can be made to work as a host?", and I think that 
defining this balance (and thus establishing the criteria of the future 
LFS LiveCD usefulness) is the real question to discuss.

Alexander E. Patrakov

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