A few weeks ago, Karl vom Dorff announced he had created a Haiku VMware build environment. This VMware image was set up in such a way that it contained all development tools and optional packages, together with Haiku's source files and a 10GB hard disk image in a 125MB file. The 'distribution' did not comply with the distribution guidelines, so changes needed to be made that Karl happily applied. A few details that required digging into the code (the About panel and the boot screen logo) remained.
These changes were harder to make than the others, and hence discussion arose about whether or not this should be made easier for potential distribution makers. While some supported this train of thought, others did not: the distribution guidelines are actually supposed to discourage people from making Haiku distributions (especially in these early stages of development). As Jorge G. Mare put it: "I personally [think] we should not spend any time writing 'Create your Haiku distro' how to, or changing the build system to support creating distros. Otherwise, you would be simply facilitating the 'Linuxification' of Haiku in the form of distro hell."
Somewhere along the way, I must admit I kind of lost track of the whole debate, despite Mail.app's fairly decent threaded display. I believe that at one point there where three differently named threads about basically the same thing running through one another, which happened to be a little too much to take for me. I figured the discussion would be more or less similar to the other discussions the mailing list has seen regarding the distribution guidelines. These discussions are kind of like Seat cars; once you have seen one of them, you have seen them all.
After the whole flurry of emails about this subject bombarding my Haiku mailbox, it got silent for a few days. As it turns out, the guys behind the original VMware image distribution that started it all renamed their distribution to Senryu, while complying to the rest of the guidelines as well - including a wonderfully sarcastic boot screen. Senryu comes in two flavours:
The personal edition also contains Haiku's build environment (minus the sources), but has more applications on it that may be of more interest to the end-user. It is meant to demonstrate Haiku's capabilities.
Both images have support for video, audio, network and burning out of the box. We will try to update the User Edition weekly, while the developer edition will be updated less frequently; as needed.
My personal opinion on the guidelines are fairly clear: I support them, and even though Jorge may come across as a tad bit harsh every now and then when it comes to the guidelines, I support him. At this point in time, having many distributions of a pre-alpha quality operating system with all the trademarks and logos intact could seriously damage the Haiku brand. It is good these guidelines have been put in place to prevent that very thing from happening.
Which does not mean I disapprove of Karl's work. As long as the guidelines are followed, I am all for these easy-to-use and 'just works' images. At least, until the alpha is ready.