Debian Pure Blends

Derivatives done right

MiniDebConf, Berlin, 10. June 2010


Debian Pure Blends (formerly known as Custom Debian Distributions) are efforts to add some user oriented substructures to the originally flat package pool of more than 22000 packages in Debian. Currently there are some Blends dedicated to certain work fields (Science, Medicine, Education, etc.) as well as language specific Blends (BrDesktop for Brazilian adaptations and EzGo is used in Taiwanese schools). The options to create additional Blends are various and so for instance Blends techniques are also used by the Debian Accessibility project.

The talk will give some hints about how to start new Blends and using the Blends techniques to enable easy access to packages fitting a specific work field. The Blends techniques are also helpful to solve quality assurance tasks including more simple tasks like caring for screenshots and description translations. The idea behind this is that Free Software enthusiasts (not necessarily software developers) get good chances to help the project advertised to other users without needing a high level of technical knowledge. In this way the Blends tools should be helpful to form a team around the Blend.

Forming a team or even a community around a Blend is also an important feature of the Blends effort. While there are other useful means to add some substructure to the Debian package pool like DebTags these are pure technical ways to tackle this problem. The experience of the existing Blends shows that only those Blends are successful which are driven by a strong team. Some tips how to work towards a strong team are given in the end of the talk.