LiveCD or No LiveCD?

Gerard Beekmans gerard at linuxfromscratch.org
Mon Feb 25 17:39:25 PST 2008


Everybody brought up valid points, as usual. Here's my two cents worth.

Instead of placing myself in the shoes of an average user, let me come 
at this from a personal point of view - a nine year old LFS old timer.

Over the years I have found the LiveCD helpful.

If I'm going to install LFS on a machine, either on a real machine or in 
a virtual machine environment (such as vmware), I start out with a blank 
harddrive or a drive that has a non-Linux system installed already.

Whatever the starting point, the fact is that in such cases I don't want 
to have to install a Linux system just so I can install LFS on the same 
machine. That way I waste partition space. Maybe the space can be 
repurposed later on (as a /home partition when all is done for example 
or a /var partition - pick something) but maybe it's not practical to do 
  so after the fact for reasons I haven't thought of yet.

I'm sure some of you will argue the fact that with today's hard drive 
sizes, it's becoming more and more a non-issue. If you have a 200 GB 
drive, wasting 5 or 10 GB is not a problem. The real issue is just the 
principle. To a lot  of people this is the more important issue at hand. 
I'm sometimes a bit of a purist so I fall into that category as well.

It's still a very valid point that must be taken into account somehow.

If you setup a temporary partition just so you can bootstrap LFS off of 
that, you need to be able to format that partition at the end of the LFS 
book and use it for something within LFS. If not, the process is flawed 
and needs to be fixed. LiveCD is one fix. Maybe other fixes exist. 
Resizing a partition or merging the two isn't always a feasible option.

To me personally the best solution is a LiveCD of some sort. In the end 
it matters very little if that is an LFS based system or another 
project's. As long as it has a working compiler + all the other tools, 
I'll be just fine.

An LFS LiveCD would be a perfect solution as it has all the tools 
properly installed. It even comes with the base packages so you don't 
need to re-download them all the time.

You still have the educational value of building an LFS system, although 
I'll admit using a pre-installed system may be easier to start from. In 
that case, you can still access your email in the normal fashion.

Seeing an LFS system isn't installed anymore in a manner of a few hours, 
and the fact you need part of BLFS to be fully functional as a user, 
which in itself can take days, a LiveCD isn't always practical if your 
starting system has Linux installed already and has your personal 
profile setup so you can check email, do work and browse the web while 
you install LFS in the background.

Taking all those arguments into account, the LiveCD has a place. But the 
caveat is that it needs to be actively maintained as part of the core 
LFs project, not as a sub-project. That way we can make sure every LFS 
book has a matching LiveCD that's up-to-date and works on most hardware.

We may not have the resources (yet) to provide a LiveCD system that 
works on every platform, if it works on a lot of platforms then we are 
simply providing a very useful feature for a large part of our 
community. That's good enough of a reason to continue the endeavour.

On a personal note, I haven't been able to use the CD for a long time 
because it won't recognize most SATA controllers that my systems use 
(regular Intel ones you find on motherboards nowadays) and thus has 
become useless to me for any modern system that I use. I don't know if 
the latest version works, but this will be an ongoing problem.

We'll need to decide on a series of available computers that we decide 
to be generic systems/chipsets so we can at least try and support the 
majority of systems.

Just some food for thought.

Gerard



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