Revision 34 as of 2005-04-27 01:32:15

Clear message




This specification describes our strategies to allow for the effective branding of Ubuntu and derivatives. Some branding can be attained without affecting packages, other branding initiatives will require derivatives to rebuild or even modify and rebuild packages. We will also refer to aspects of Rosetta that should affect distro branding.


Scope and Use Cases

  • Provide for branding or neutralization, as appropriate, of the following components:
    • CD
      • Boot loader splash image
      • Boot loader text
    • Installer
      • Debconf templates
      • Package selection
      • Help texts
      • Dialogs
    • Express Installer (UbuntuExpress)

      • Artwork (Logos, images..)
      • Help texts
      • Dialogs
    • Live CD
      • "Starting Ubuntu..."
    • Base
      • Archive keyring?
      • Debconf templates?
      • lsb-release? (hard)
    • Boot
      • USplash image
      • "Starting Ubuntu..."
      • Grub menu entry
      • Grub theme
    • Application defaults
      • GDM theme
      • Splash graphic
      • Default wallpaper
      • Default browser homepage
      • Default browser bookmarks
      • Gnome/Kde theme
      • Menu
      • Apps on "Add/Remove programs"
      • Icons on panel and desktop
      • "About Ubuntu..." (System Menu)
    • Others
      • Debootstrap script

Implementation Plan

We have discussed several approaches to branding, and in which cases they are useful. By necessity, our plan to improve the branding situation for derivatives is a combination of these approaches.

The Rosetta team has done some initial work to mark branded strings.

Many strings can simply be neutralized. This is the simplest case to handle, and subsequently requires no effort to re-brand for each derivative. We should apply this technique wherever possible, although it does not always make sense: for instance, the installer does need to talk about the distribution it's installing at some point. Similarly, [:PackageSelection:development work] is proceeding on debootstrap to avoid having to rebuild debootstrap simply to change the contents of the base system.

Runtime substitution strategies are appropriate for simple circumstances (e.g., Apache version string, Mozilla version string). In some cases, we can use the lsb_release command and have a reasonable chance of having the code passed upstream. Since it is not always appropriate to call an external program, we will need to add a liblsb-release to provide the functionality of lsb_release as a library and use it for identification strings.

A number of items of branding can be refactored by collecting branding data into central locations. This works well for artwork and for gconf configuration data.

Some items really require build-time branding. There are hard problems to be solved in the packaging system and in Launchpad before we can manage a separate build for every derivative. This isn't achievable for Breezy, so for the near term we must avoid it as far as possible.

The hardest part of the problem is branding human-readable strings. These must be translated, so retranslation is required after branding them. Upstream software rarely uses distro-specific branding, so we can deal with that on a case-by-case basis. Most branding applies to debconf templates, and most of that is in the installer; other packages, and indeed much of the installer as well, can and should be neutralized. For the remaining cases, we have the following (non-exclusive) options:

  • Translate the remaining few cases manually to properly catch linguistic issues (plurals, genders, tenses, etc.). This would require additional complexity and effort in order to avoid duplicating work across distributions which target the same languages.
  • Try to catch the most common cases with a global macro (debconf already supports per-package macro substitution).
  • Use special-case macros, but since they have to be maintained somehow, this could create more problems than it solves.

The Hard Part

Even after the above, it still remains to make some changes to source packages. We propose to create a tool to perform these changes in a guided fashion, with feedback from the user. This could be a script that uses HCT to make source package changes and publish them to a personal APT archive. It needs to make the following changes:

  • TODO

Outstanding Issues

UDU BOF Agenda

  • Runtime branding, build-time branding and package-selection branding
    • Which approach is most suitable for each requirement?
    • Can we avoid build-time branding entirely? It causes big infrastructure problems
  • Branded CD builds
  • Debconf branding
  • Refactoring desktop branding
    • gconf schemas, etc. (<dist>-branding)

    • artwork (<dist>-artwork)

UDU Pre-Work