Friday, April 30, 2010

Planning for an Ubuntu Install Factory

Yesterday was Ubuntu release day, which means that today it is almost impossible to use the repositories, jammed as they are with users eager to get at the new release.

I've become familiar with this pattern, so I ran sudo update manger -d on all the machines in my lab two weeks ago, updating them all to Lucid before the rush.

Since Lucid is an LTS release, it will be supported on the desktop for the next three years, and there will be a direct upgrade path from it to the next LTS release, two years from now.

While I personally run the latest release, I usually install only LTS releases on computers I gift as part of my free software advocacy.  This is because I will very likely be called upon to help the recipients maintain their machines once I've given them, and it greatly reduces my workload using only the more stable, upgrade once in two years, LTS releases.

This release promises to be particularly exciting, thanks to the excellent work of the Lubuntu developer team.  Lubuntu appears ready to deliver something I've been needing for years - a lightweight, easy to use version to run on legacy computers.  There are lots and lots of Pentium III computers with about 128 Megabytes of RAM floating around, and having Lubuntu provides a way to breath new life into these older machines, delivering a modern, powerful computing experience to folks who can't afford to purchase a new computer.

What I want to do now is setup an "Ubuntu Installation Factory", with the following characteristics:
  • The ability to install Ubuntu (server, 32 bit, and 64 bit), Kubuntu, and Lubuntu from our own internal apt server.
  • A flexible installation process that makes it easy to use a standard installation process for each of these installation types.
Again, from the Lubuntu community, I just found out about the mini.iso install cd.  While this cd was developed for netbooks, it appears to provide just what I need to install on older computers as well.  It is wonderful how netbooks have provided the market motivation for the creation of the tools we computer salvagers have been needing for so long.  The process for using this cd to install Lubuntu is described here.

So the plan is to setup an apt repository in our CS lab and an installation process using mini.iso to install all the different versions of Ubuntu we want to make available.

I'll post updates as the process unfolds....

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