Reference (maybe Live) Distribution for Rev Linux

Peter Alcibiades palcibiades-first at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Feb 8 05:31:07 EST 2010


I've got Andre's Suse based distribution but have not yet burned to usb and 
fired up.  However, thinking about this, there are some considerations 
about a reference distro, which could be a very useful possible way out of 
the Linux issues.  Thoughts:

1)  it needs to run Rev exactly as the developers expect.  

So, if revPrintField and multiple desktops are not supported, they should 
not work on the reference distribution, and the release notes should say 
so.  Or, if they are, the release notes should say so, and they should work 
on the reference distribution.  Rev Browser as well!

This is normal quality management procedures, and Rev needs to start this 
right away.  Define the standard and define the tests and give the results.  
Then we can be certain that if we don't get the same results, its down to 
our particular installation.

2)  The chosen distribution should be reasonably pure.

Many of the larger distributions are not.  I don't think this is much of a 
problem in practice for users, but if you are using a reference distro, it 
should be one that has as few custom mods as possible.  It should be one 
where you can be pretty sure that if a given feature works on this, it will 
work on anything, because you know its working on a non-customized install.  
A personal view:  this will rule out using many large favorites as your 
reference distro.   From this perspective perhaps the reference distro 
should be Slackware?  That is the least tweaked distribution there is.  A 
Debian stable standard installation would also be a candidate.    What you 
do not want is one where all the configuration files are covered in 

##do not edit this file it is generated automatically## 

It would be nice if its live, but probably not essentiaI. I am tempted to 
suggest Slax, which is Slackware live, very popular, and very compact, but 
its probably excessively customized to serve as a reference distribution.  
The point of a reference distribution is it should be unquestionable that 
if a feature works on this, it is implemented correctly.  Slackware, I 
think most people would agree, meets this test.  This is probably more 
important than being live.

3)  Testing and certification, if thats the word, should be done running on 
real hardware, not in a virtual machine.  It may be interesting that Rev 
does not work properly in XP running on VirtualBox on a Mac, but 
establishing that is not a robust way of testing a reference XP 
installation.  Nor is the equivalent for Linux.  Nor indeed would we test 
Rev for OSX on a Hackintosh as a reference installation!  So we should not 
rely on this approach for Linux.

The thing is, to prove a feature is implemented correctly, you only need to 
produce one standard distro on which it works to spec.  At the moment we 
are in a situation where there is no reference, and people can always say, 
well, it works/does not work for me.  And then they have to start talking 
which release of which version, all of which may well be, most probably is, 
totally irrelevant.  But how do we know?   I assume that when Mac or 
Windows releases are feature tested, it is against some specific version or 
feature pack.  Same thing is needed for Linux.  It would save a huge amount 
of time, speculation and irritation.

Peter




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