[sisela] Plans for the next Sisela version

Martin Ling sisela@earth.li
Sat, 26 Jun 2004 16:43:22 +0100

Now that I'm finished with exams for this year, I'm beginning to make
serious plans for the next version of Sisela.

Lots have things have been asked for, including:

- New boot methods - PXE netbooting, USB memory sticks, hard drives
- More support for recent wireless chipsets
- AP mode support
- Captive portal
- Web administration
- Wireless scanning
- Various additional software

Plus of course I'll make all the usual upgrades to the included
software. I'm not sure yet whether it will be worth going to a 2.6
kernel - despite new space-saving options it still seems to work out

Now, I can do a certain amount of this and still fit on a floppy. The
HTTP server for captive portal and web admin features is already present
in 0.3, it just needs appropriate accompanying scripts/pages to be
written. Since I want to provide console-based admin menus too, I'm
looking at producing a simple configuration engine and perhaps some
micro templating system to generate web pages and config screens from
this. HTTPS is probably unfeasible, but you can do secure web admin by
SSH tunneling :-)

I've still got some ideas for saving space which could free up enough to
get a couple more drivers/programs in, and there's the option of going
to a 1722k floppy format as well.

It's probably also time to take out support for some of the more rare
ISA cards - the space is better used for new drivers, and anyone needing
to support very obscure old hardware can always build it in.

Ultimately though I'm never going to be able to satisfy everyone, and
modifying the source package to add what you want isn't currently that
easy. So in future I'll be trying to build as many options as possible
into the source package, menu-selectable in the same style as the Linux
kernel configuration, so people can build in exactly what they need.
This is going to take a little longer than just cramming more stuff in
though, so I'm postponing it until the version after next.

The Sisela roadmap, then:

0.4: Simply the most networking power ever fitted on one floppy disk.
     Also PXE, USB and HD-installable versions. Less ancient drivers.
     More new ones. Configuration menus, web management, captive portal.

0.5: A flexible source distribution allowing people to build exactly
     what they need onto any size or type boot media. Also 'standard'
     version(s) with the mostdistributed as pre-compiled images.
     Probably a web-based custom compilation service.

0.6 and upwards: Refinements and additions to the framework of 0.5.

I'll still be trying to modularise the source package whilst working on
0.4, in preparation for a fully configurable 0.5. However, making sure
all possible combinations build and work properly will be a lot of work;
I don't want to stall a 0.4 release waiting for that to be ready, when
there's plenty of fixes and improvements to 0.3 that can be done now.

You can help by:

- Telling me what you want. There have been plenty of suggestions on
  this list already, but more are welcome. Be clear on exactly what you
  need and why - don't just ask for a particular program, there may be a
  smaller alternative way to be able to do the same thing.

- Volunteering to test beta versions. I'll announce all developments on
  this list, but if you mail me now and let me know what hardware you
  are already using with Sisela and what you have available to test on,
  I can make sure things are better tested.

- Telling me what hardware does and doesn't work with the 0.3 version.

- Submitting patches which add new features or fix bugs.

- Looking at the source for more ways to save space! Lots of bits of
  code aren't used often, or at all - which ones can be easily got rid

Thanks for all your support,