Userexperience - ideas about new live DVD

Martin B.s post about the user experience hangout this thurday
inspired me. I am no sure if I can make it to the hangout, but here are
some thoughts:
I was asked to do a presentation about Satellite Tracking, SDR and
Gnuradio to a group of teachers next Monday and thought it would be good
to check out the live DVD, because they may like to have something to
take home.
I think the idea of a live DVD is great, but I would suggest a couple of
changes to further live DVD releases. The main reason for my feedback is
that I guess the live DVD will most likely be used by Gnuradio newbies
and probably even Linux beginners. So the live DVD should be as easy as
possible for these people:

  • Distro: XUbuntu instead of using standard Ubuntu. While the “Unity”
    desktop of standard Ubuntu is completely different to Windows and MacOS
    desktops, XFCE is in my opinion much more intuitive to someone who comes
    from Windows, Mac and many other Linux distros. The most disturbing
    thing is that the current DVD does not mention Gnuradio on the desktop
    at all and there is not even a shortcut to the terminal.
    And compared to other desktop environments XUbuntu is much more light
    weight and less taxing on CPU / GPU.

  • No display compositing (transparency effects). Compositing and other
    bells and whistles can slow down the whole desktop if the graphics
    driver does not support it well - e.g. when running the live DVD as a
    virtual machine (I usually test live CDs/DVDs as VMs within Virtualbox),
    or on older computers.

  • Gnuradio installation: I would suggest a Pybombs build system with the
    main gnuradio components already installed. Probably in a build
    directory that sits in the default users home folder
    (/home/ubuntu/gnuradio), so no root installation needed. setup_env.sh
    can be called on login to put this build directory into the path.
    With this configuration people can install additional packages and can
    become familiar with Pybombs if they want to.

  • Additional software / packages: Things that might be interesting for
    radio amateurs and DSP / SDR interested people like: Audacity, Sonic
    Visualiser (www.sonicvisualiser.org), GPredict and more.

  • Desktop tailored for Gnuradio: Menus and launchers for
    gnuradio-companion, relevant documentation and GQRX. Not to forget a
    “ReadMe” on how to use this DVD. Browser (Firefox) with Gnuradio
    relevant bookmarks.

I have never made, customized a liveCD DVD before, but I will try to get
such an image ready with uck (Ubuntu Customization Kit). Any help, ideas
and food for thought is welcome.

Mark

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