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Boots, a Fedora Remix

Boots is (intended to become) a faithful import of the vast majority of the packages authored by another open source Linux distribution project. (Boots is a volunteer project and is not yet available; this document currently expresses technical goals and decisions but does not document software that is currently available.)

The packages intended to be added beyond those provided by the upstream distribution are only Conary-related development tools and other packages as required to successfully build installable images. It is not intended that Boots be an unbounded superset of its upstream package source; for example, it is not intended to be a source of additional codecs or binary-only software. This is both to make Boots a better participant in the upstream distribution community and to make Boots able to follow upstream development on a more agile basis.

Following the Fedora Trademark Guidelines, we cannot call a product created by adding Conary and related tools to Fedora, repackaging Fedora RPMs as Conary packages, and importing the whole combined set into a Conary repository, by the "Fedora" trademark. However, we can (and should) indicate that it is a derived work by using the Secondary Mark in association with the main name of this project. For a variety of reasons (see "pump", a BOOTP server for one example) it is named "Boots, a Fedora Remix".

Content and Structure

Boots is proposed to be as faithful as possible an import of the upstream binary platform packages, within the constraints of being repackaged for Conary using Conary best practices. It will use native Conary features to represent the precise contents of the individual RPM packages. The contents of the repository will be modified relative to upstream to honor trademark restrictions, to include Conary and Conary-related tools, and to modify existing tools to work with Conary directly. It will not attempt to turn the upstream time-based release process into a rolling release process.

The goal is not to do extensive QA beyond what is done upstream for Fedora. Bugs in Fedora will generally reproduce in Boots. The goal is to automate as much as possible getting content from Fedora's RPMs to Boots consumers. Thus, a "tagline" for Boots might be, "It boots, ship it!"

Bugs in Boots should be filed in the BOOTS project in the Foresight Issue Tracking System (FITS). Note that bugs present in upstream Fedora will be redirected to the Fedora bugzilla and closed in FITS.

For more detailed information, please see Developer Information

Why is Boots a Sub-project of Foresight?

Boots is not part of Foresight Linux. It is a separate technology that shares resources and leadership for two general kinds of reasons.

  1. Organizational simplicity and clarity: There is strong overlap between developers interested in contributing to Foresight and developers interested in contributing to Boots, and in many cases development work overlaps and is likely to continue to overlap. These developers wish to work in concert with Foresight; strengthening it and not damaging it. To be organizationally connected makes this intention clearer externally.
  2. Utility to Foresight: Boots as a stand-alone distribution has direct value for Foresight; including Foresight Linux.

Leadership

Boots leadership is intended to develop organically as it has in Foresight Linux, and by virtue of it being a Foresight sub-project, the Foresight council can provide organizational oversight as needed.

Utility to Foresight

Focus: Foresight Linux is a desktop OS. Part of what makes Foresight Linux relevant is that the Foresight view of the OS extends all the way down through the OS to the kernel. Another is that Foresight Linux is absolutely not a server OS; trade-offs between desktop and server usage are (rightfully) consistently made in favor of desktop utility and ease of use. This does mean, however, that the occasional use of a few server-oriented packages for hybrids is a distraction and is not generally maintained well. Because it has been separately proposed that Foresight Linux use the Fedora toolchain, considering Fedora to be upstream for the compiler, C library and other related tools, having Boots available allows Foresight developers to properly reflect package requests for server programs to Boots and expecting the hybrid to work. Therefore, Boots could help provide development focus to Foresight Linux.

Debugging: Given two similar RPM-based or similar dpkg-based distributions, it is fairly easy to test to see whether a problem is unique to a single OS by installing the packages from another distribution. This is harder when no closely-corresponding distribution is built with Conary. Boots would enable conary update brokenpackage=boots.rpath.org@boots:f11 for quick testing. It would also enable quick binary comparison with conary rdiff brokenpackage=boots.rpath.org@boots:f11--foresight.rpath.org@fl:2 (it was noted during initial Boots discussion, as a specific example, that a simple brasero packaging bug took a few hours to track down but would have been resolved in about a minute if this conary rdiff command had been available).

Differentiation: There have been repeated calls within Foresight for a fourth label which provides time-based rather than rolling releases of Foresight Linux content. This has clearly been outside not only the initial purpose of Foresight Linux but also outside the interests of the main contributors and the scope of the available effort. I posit that the reason for this pressure in the past has been that Foresight has been the only Conary-based desktop distribution, so all desktop users who desire a Conary-based desktop distribution, whatever their update preference, have used Foresight Linux, and desired that Foresight Linux fit their schedule and preferences. If Boots is maintained following the rapidly-updated but time-based releases of Fedora, users who desire a Conary-packaged distribution that follows a time-based release process can use Boots, allowing Foresight Linux to roll more quickly with new software releases, regaining its position as a first provider of interesting new technology.

Intent

Boots is intended to be constructive participant, a "good citizen", in both the Foresight and Fedora development communities.

In the article I downloaded by http://rapid4me.com SE I read that boots packages will use the Fedora toolchain to maintain binary compatibility with Fedora. Foresight may or may not use the same toolchain, that is another discussion. Nonetheless, bleeding edge packages in Fedora may be rebuilt for Foresight. In any case Foresight can renew its focus on providing the latest desktop developments and allow Boots to focus on any server package requests and the time-based releases that users have requested. still I wonder: boots? why not afterthought?

Posted by Anonymous at Feb 25, 2010 09:54

In my opinion, "Afterthought" would have a negative connotation that we neither desire not intend to imply. Our intent is expressed as:

Boots is intended to be constructive participant, a "good citizen", in both the Foresight and Fedora development communities.

Boots will only happen with sufficient community participation (notice that it has remained an idea as of this writing, though the idea has been refined and improved over time), and I most certainly desire not to discourage anyone from participating by unintentionally giving offense.

Nice article...I read a related article at http://www.evildrome.com My perhaps ill-considered "Derivation perspective" email regarding the underlying basis of Foresight development has made two things
clear.  The first is that there is real value in from-source
rebuilds of at a minimum large portions of the software stack
(the *whole OS* is the desktop!), and the second is that there is
widespread interest both in Foresight and in a potential stand-alone
import of Fedora

Posted by Anonymous at Jun 26, 2010 10:38