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Arabbix - a proposal

Arabbix: a proposal

I am proposing to restart the Arabbix Project on the following basis:

- To be built on Ubuntu
- To be an infrastructure for building any distros on top.

Why Ubuntu:

Ubuntu_ is a Debian derivative. It is very popular nowadays. It has many
interesting features. The most interesting relevant ones are:
- A strong support for internationalization and localization.
- An easy infrastructure for Live CD building and customization.

Customization of the Ubuntu live CD is as easy as installing the packages you
need in Debian. You basically ``chroot`` in the environment, use normal tools
to select and install packages (apt, dpkg and friends) then compress the CD.
This has led to a multitude of CDs built on it. For example Gnoppix_, which
used to be built on Morphix, has changed to be built on this process.

Note that Ubuntu is not a repackaging of Debian; it is a *derivative*. While
you can install Debian packages in Ubuntu, it is not safe to mix Ubuntu and
Debian repositories as they may have conflicting packages at any specific time.
Those who are interested in more information should consult `Debian and

As a test, I have already built a Ubuntu live CD, with small changes as setting
Arabic defaults, in a very short time, successfully.


This is the short form of the proposal. It will be fleshed out later in this

- Create a Live CD using the `Live CD infrastructure`_ available in Ubuntu.
- Customize it to add Arabic support.
- Package as much as possible of the customizations in .deb packages.
- Document all this.
- Automate the process as much as possible.
- Provide the *least* acceptable technical support. Ditto for bugs and


Creation of a live CD is straight forward in Ubuntu but will do with more
documentation. Moreover, our customizations should be standardized as well. I
envisage the process to make use of many of the tricks currently used by
Gnoppix, which is available on their cvs.

In Ubuntu, installation of language support is as easy as installing its
language-support and language-pack packages. In the case of Arabic you need to
automate the keyboard configuration and other details. We may choose to install
other packages in Arabeyes.

I would suggest that all customizations and packages should be in .deb
packages. For example, in my trial I have packaged some pixmaps and backgrounds
needed in arabeyes-artwork. This will make the building and subsequent
customization very easy, and in fact the package can be written to target
Debian and other derivatives, simplifying the Arabization process for
Debianeers. I am not a Debian guy myself, so I need real help with that.

IMHO, documentation should be enough for a Linux power user to be able to
create the current live CD at any time on his/her own given the public
packages, and of course, the documentation. This is to be assisted by
automating as much as possible. This will help whoever wants to build a new

Documentation can be through the wiki, and through various documents available
on arabeyes.org. I personally prefer writing documents using `restructured
text`_. This document is a (hopefully) good example of it.

Any distribution needs technical support, with all kinds of feedback coming in:
bugs, feature requests. I believe that most of these should be resolved as
upstream: meaning that it is a bug that should be solved in Ubuntu, Debian,
GNOME, or anywhere else. Of course we will introduce our own bugs, but we need
to limit these to our ability to respond. To that end, I suggest that we use
software in the following order:

- Packages from Ubuntu
- Packages from Debian testing, after doing compatibility tests
- Packages from Arabeyes maintainers

We can take packages from Ubuntu, subject to the CD size of course. An
enhancement request can be satisfied by one or more packages from Debian
testing, in the rare event this request is accepted. Arabeyes software should
always packaged by its maintainer(s), and inclusion in the live CD should
always be looked on as a first step towards inclusion in Debian or Ubuntu.

The current Ubuntu live CD includes:

- GNOME 2.12 (KDE is supported in the sister distro Kubuntu_, which can utilize
the same process.
- OpenOffice 2.0
- Firefox 1.0.7


After a discussion with Nadim I felt this point needs to have more explanation.

As I see it, the role of modules in Morphix can be fulfilled by the use of
metapackages in Debian. For example, to install GNOME all you need is ``apt-get
install gnome``. If we were able to package all our modifications in
metapackage(s) it will be very simple for anyone to pick and choose. I am
drawing here on the collective experience of the Arabeyes community in Debian
packaging, which is better than finding a custom module solution.

An example is the ``arabeyes-artwork`` package I have written (to be uploaded).
It should be replacable by anyone's favourite ``*-artwork`` package.

More feedback is welcome.

The Community:

The Arabbix CD should be a community project. There are many things to
participate into:

- Packaging packages to include in the CD
- Testing and feedback
- Rebuilding the CD, and customizing it
- Translating any applications that has a need
- Creating good artwork
- Advocating for it and advocating using it
- Any other suggestions

So, here is the suggestion. I will be happy to maintain the project along these
lines. I hope it will get a healthy discussion here, and I am glad to respond
to any suggestions, criticisms, etc..

.. _Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntulinux.org
.. _`Debian and Ubuntu`:
.. _Gnoppix: http://www.gnoppix.org/
.. _`Live CD infrastructure`: https://wiki.ubuntu.com//LiveCDCustomizationHowTo
.. _`restructured text`: http://docutils.sourceforge.net/rst.html
.. _`Kubuntu`: http://www.kubuntu.org/


Muhammad Alkarouri

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installations worldwide? - Ivan Van Laningham, on c.l.py

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