[Tinkerphones] Boxer (was Re: [Gta04-owner] New LetuxOS Kernels and some tricks and thoughts)

Jonas Smedegaard jonas at jones.dk
Mon May 27 19:40:24 CEST 2019

Quoting Paul Boddie (2019-05-27 18:43:39)
> On Monday 27. May 2019 15.25.00 Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
> > 
> > Wauw!  Probably the first ever review of Boxer :-)
> Probably not a fair one, though...
> > Yes, I think it is an accurate description.  As for "[not] much of 
> > immediate use" I believe it stems from being about reusable patterns 
> > - so if the project at hand cannot benefit from any of the existing 
> > patterns (in package boxer-data) then it is _more_ work, not less, 
> > to use Boxer if measured by that one project alone.
> I didn't realise (or see) that there was a boxer-data package. Looking 
> at it again, it does seem like a framework for writing deployment 
> recipes by defining the nature of nodes (specific systems) in terms of 
> classes (kinds of systems, described in terms of physical 
> characteristics and other capabilities).
> It seems that the work performed is focused on installing packages, 
> although I also see that there are "tweaks" which allow shell commands 
> to be used where packages would presumably need extra configuration. I 
> don't have any real familiarity with "orchestration" type solutions, 
> but it gives me the same kind of impression.
> I imagine that Boxer would be useful in preparing images to deploy on 
> devices like those discussed on this list, which I suppose isn't too 
> far off from things like FreedomBox, presumably the original target of 
> this work.

Thanks again for looking at Boxer.  Your understanding also here is 
accurate (phew - I know the documentation is really bad).

Correct, main use of Boxer is handling package choices.  Reason is that 
the aim is to support "Debian Blends" - i.e. systems defined by how 
packages are installed not how the system is afterwards tweaked.  
Ideally, Boxer does the same as debian-installer but from a separate 
host (contrary to debian-installer which operates on the target host).  
Therefore "tweaks" is a discouraged concept, even though often crucial 
at first, because any tweak is expected to be pushed "upstream" into 
relevant Debian packages.  When perfect - i.e. when no tweaks are needed 
- you have a so-called "Debian Pure Blend": 

Correct, Boxer began as a generic tool for bootstrapping FreedomBox and 
similar systems created as direct competitor to a specific-purpose shell 
script emerging in 2011 to bootstrap Freedombox: Some of us FreedomBox 
developers met in person after a year of getting nowhere concrete with 
the project, Bdale Garbee worked on the specific-purpose script, I set 
out to make a proper tool but Bdale was quite sceptical, arguing that 
would take years.  Here we are 7.5 years later and Boxer still cannot do 
the tasks of the special-purpose script (which used vmdebootstrap, btw).

Boxer was first used for Debian Parl, a system for independent 
parliamentarians used in a pilot project at the European Parliament.

Boxer is most recently used for https://box.redpill.dk/ which is sort-of 
a stepping-stone for https://solidbox.org/ - my (future) competitor for 

 - Jonas

 * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
 * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

 [x] quote me freely  [ ] ask before reusing  [ ] keep private
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