Road to 012

Another version, another roadmap. We took a long time to write this one, which ended up delaying its release time after time after time. I usually like to take this space to write some looking-back review of the development of the project (release milestones are always a good moment for that), but I feel I just can't delay this roadmap any longer. On the bright side, this roadmap was more collaboratively written than any of the previous ones. :)

Having said that, I feel the next release will be a turning point in terms of user experience, even if there are no big architectural changes. And the reason of that is Manager, André's graphical frontend for Compile and Scripts. Another big change is that GoboLinux 012 might mark the end of an era. It is consensus among the GoboLinux team that the project needs to enter a new stage. We'll need some changes in the way the overall project is handled, which mean gradually adopting more of a "bazaar" model -- developments like Compile give us a way to decentralize the development in a structured, documented manner. No set decisions were made yet -- only general ideas sketched -- but discussions should following in the mailing list. On the bright side, the end of an era is the beginning of another. :)

Well, so it turns out I managed to write my usual bit of blurb. Enough of it, on to the features!

  • Upgrade milestones. KDE 3.3, Qt 3.3.3, GCC 3.4.x (whatever is latest -- will someone please stop those guys from releasing versions?)
  • Kernel 2.6.x by default. Including integration of UDEV. Probably a 2.4.x kernel will not be shipped within the installation CD, but a precompilled image will still be available for download at the site.
  • Integration of Manager. Manager is a graphical front-end that makes easier to manage the packages from a GoboLinux system. 012 version will feature a stable and feature-complete version of Manager.
  • New Compile version. Including: Minor changes on the user-interaction code, that enable easy integration with front-ends; Better support for systems without Internet access; General improvements and fixes, specially regarding the use of 'NewVersion'; Better modularity, specially regarding Recipes finding and fetching. Compile 2 dreams (currently in a -- very advanced I must say -- planning stage) are post-012 material.
  • SquashFS. In replacement to cloop, SquashFS will be used to compress the data from the GoboLinux ISO. SquashFS provides (slighty) better compress ratios, much faster compression (requiring much less memory than cloop's compression) and same performance as cloop while reading compressed data.
  • Improved hardware detection. No major changes, but the hardware database used by the detection tools will be brought up-to-date.
  • Selectable superuser name. Set during installation process. Yes, "root" by default.

Some things from the 011 roadmap still hold true as to-do work:

  • New bootscripts. (I promise they're coming this time!) They are going to be as simple as the current ones, but more modular than the current ones. While some scenarios need extra complexity (daemon management, dependency-based boot) others just need a few programs to be launched in a certain order at startup and "that's it". We believe it is possible to support both in an elegant manner. And do all of this in a themeable way, of course. ;-)
  • Improved shell agnosticism. As zsh users, we don't like it when we are forced into a bash-world. So, we won't try to force users of other shells into a zsh-world, either. This means a change in the way environment variables are handled, and the adoption of wrapper scripts instead of shell functions and aliases whenever possible.

Some things from the 007 roadmap still hold true as to-do work:

  • Automate the base system build process. Compile already holds most if not all of the recipes necessary to build the Base system, and we have a mostly-automated build script to generate the ISO image, but we haven't got to the point where we can shoot "go" in one end of the pipeline and get a ready-to-ship ISO in the other end. I'd dare to say that by now we're mostly comfortable with the level of automation we've got, but more is always better.
  • Improve the collection of packages. This is an obvious, but tiring item, which will always be on every roadmap. Ideally we want every package shipped in the CD to be in its latest stable release, but situations like Glibc compatibility are always complicated (especially when the devs say things like here's the latest release, but don't use it).
  • Improve documentation. Documentation has improved slowly, and not as steadily as we'd like. Help is greatly appreciated on this regard.

The i386 port

There was considerable work on i386 since the last release, and as you can see in the downloads page, we finally have a beta. It's not known at this stage if 012 will come out in i686 and i386 flavors. Ultimately, I think demand will dictate that. As far as I remember, there were not many (or any?) reports on the mailing list about the i386 beta. Since the team is overloaded with tasks (GoboLinux-related and otherwise), i386 is low-priority now. We keep a working version because of the social project we're involved with, but I personally don't know if a release-quality ISO (with live-CD GUI and other fluff) is coming. [Disclaimer: I'm not the best person to talk about this though, so if the other guys want to update this text, please feel free to do so.] On the bright side, information regarding the status of the i386 port is now much more precise than it was in the previous roadmaps. :)

The long run

(Who can tell what the future holds? Gobo?)

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