future of TTCS OSSWIN CD

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) is looking at what to do for a TTCS OSSWIN CD 2.0 release.

Does anything need to change?

One of the big problems encountered with the TTCS OSSWIN CD is the space for programs. Updated versions of programs unfortunately are larger in filesize than their predecessors. Recently, more and more programs had to be removed (see the TTCS OSSWIN CD changelog). So, YES, something needs to change.

Here are several options the TTCS has considered. Ideally, it will be good to have a version 2.0 of the TTCS OSSWIN CD done in time for Software Freedom Day 2008.

Develop a DVD version of the TTCS OSSWIN CD.

A DVD would solve (for now at least) the file size problem and allows for many more programs to be put on a DVD and more material about each program (such as larger screenshots, or short videos, even. There are several concerns, however :

  • whether to maintain the TTCS OSSWIN CD concurrently with a DVD version. This relates to the difficulty of maintaining two software collections – it could be done separately but then this introduces more maintainence headaches and I’ve learned that the more hassle something is, the less likely it will be done (data backups anyone?). So IMO, a system has be developed/designed to allow for updates to the CD and DVD versions to be done in one location (ie : updates to the information text and the program is done at one location).
  • hosting a DVD might be too much for the third party mirrors for TTCS OSSWIN CD (to whom we cannot thank enough!).
  • the interface for a DVD version : the current interface for the CD will probably not work well with more software items in its menu. Already the Utilities section scrolls off the page on lower resolution displays (see screenshot below – there are three more items below Drempels yet on a 1280×1024 display, they are not seen). So a new webpage design needs to be also designed to cater for the many programs on such a DVD.

screenshort of TTCS OSSWIN CD interface showing the Utilities category

Drop the games from TTCS OSSWIN CD

With regards to the CD version, a possible option being explored is to drop the games section from the TTCS OSSWIN CD. This will allow space for more programs in the other categories in the short term. Also the easiest option to implement.

It has been suggested by some that the presence of the games might be turning off persons such as business users who may not take the OSS seriously for use in businesses, so the removal may make the CD more “friendly” to its use in businesses.

The downside of this option : no games! Life is no fun without games :-). A TTCS OSSWIN CD Games edition could be done…which leads to the third option :

Develop multiple editions of TTCS OSSWIN CD

It has been suggested that specific editions of OSSWIN CD be done to target different persons. Two examples : a TTCS OSSWIN CD (Business Edition) which takes out the games and a TTCS OSSWIN CD (Education Edition) which takes out games and adds a programming software category.

The idea would be that the targeting of different editions of the CD to the different users would result in increased usage among such targeted users. Similar to the ideas expressed in this TED Talk : “What we can learn from spaghetti sauce”.


  • The difficulty of maintaining multiple editions as mentioned earlier.
  • Microsoft Vista has multiple editions. Does that make it easier for users to decide which one is right for them?

However, it is possible that a single DVD version could do this type of end user targeting by having different menus for different users. So on startup (say), the screen could have menu options or ask the question :

  • Are you a Business User?
  • Are you a home user?
  • Are you a Teacher?

then a different software selection on the DVD would be given.

So, those are some of the considerations. Your thoughts about the current version of TTCS OSSWIN CD?

9 thoughts on “future of TTCS OSSWIN CD”

  1. Well, I’m not sure about the headaches involved in maintaining multiple versions of the CD/DVD but if you do decide to have an alternate DVD together with the CD (you could remove games of the CD then or something?)…with regards to the mirrors, maybe you don’t host the DVD for download. That’s *special* and you have to get it from someone. I don’t know if that’s viable.

  2. Hey, i like the idea of asking the user for his type of interest in the beginning of the CD, home, business etc. and then showing the software associated for his preference. I would not mind helping out on putting the cd together so do let me know what i can do. Maybe we could even have a student version as well.

  3. I think the DVD seems to be the best choice for holding all the programs and giving the options as well.

  4. Lilandra : not having the DVD online is also a possibility.

    Annoushka : What categories would a student edition hold?

  5. Education? Quite a lot. There are a lot of useful educational apps available (FLOSS) that are not covered by the TTCS OSSWin CD. Some are covered in other collections, but you may want to differentiate the offering slightly for the educational market.

    Use one of the tweaked versions of OpenOffice.org, for instance (more templates).

    Things like some of the server-based things, like Moodle.

  6. I like the idea of a DVD version, but only distributed by BitTorrent.

    I think for ease of construction, the DVD should be broken into 2 CD volumes for standard distribution (till it gets too large for 2 CDs).

    VOL 1:
    Desktop Applications

    VOL 2:
    Everything else.

    As things grow, split whole categories to new CDs, but include everything on the DVD.

    For the menuing system, might I suggest splitting it now into categorical menus, with a master index.htm pointing to each sub-menu, this would probably make maintenance easier in the future.

    I also think the CD images, to save bandwidth should be compressed as a self-extracting 7-Zip using maximal compression, but that’s just a prefrence.

  7. Zaphod : sorry for not responding earlier.

    BitTorrent distribution of a DVD version may be more viable now that more persons in Trinidad and Tobago have broadband but it will still be a hassle.

    With v1.98 of the OSSWIN CD, I think I can generate different versions of OSSWIN CDs and/or DVDs. Currently thinking is to maintain OSSWIN CD as is and develop a DVD version with new web interface

  8. Zaphod : regarding using 7-zip

    Just tried 7-zip on the ISO…as suspected, the file size was reduced by 13MB. Doesn’t seem worth the effort

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