site  news  contact

Why the ISO format has to die

November 14, 2022 — BarryK

Page originally created December 28, 2021
Updated: November 14, 2022

EasyOS ships as a .img file, that is written to a drive. Barry stopped shipping EasyOS as an ISO file from early 2020. This was a controversial decision. Barry will continue the rest of this page writing in the first-person.

When I first wrote this page, in December 2021, I was reacting to emails that I had received. Quite incredible emails; one guy told me it is not my fault, I am showing the signs of early dementia!

My reaction below, is somewhat confronting, but it represents my mood at the time. Revising this page in November 2022, I decided to leave that text as-is...

I maintain that the ISO format has "had it's day" and needs to be retired. Furthermore, I claim that the image format is simpler and easier to use; however, some Linux "old timers" claim the opposite.

I saw their entrenched obstinacy as akin to my elderly step-mother sticking with audio cassettes and keyboard flip phone. So finally, in December 2021, I decided to clarify my claim in a blog post:

I also started a thread on the Puppy Forum for feedback, and as a consequence wrote a follow-up blog post:

If anyone reading this feels that they would like to contribute an opinion, here is the forum thread:

However, please do not just post your pre-conceived prejudices and narrow understanding.

Misunderstandings are OK, as long as the person is willing to learn.

For example, someone sent me an email yesterday (December 26, 2021) asking if they needed to format the usb stick with an ext3 or ext4 partition before writing the 'easy-3.1.17-amd64.img.gz' (latest release at time of writing) file to the drive. I replied that it doesn't matter what is on the drive beforehand, just use Etcher or easydd or some other tool that will write the image file to the usb-stick, then boot from the stick and you are good-to-go.

A note to anyone reading this, who needs help on how to use tools like Etcher or easydd, see this page:

That person was willing to learn and did follow my instructions. Unlike the entrenched "pro ISO" elderly Linux users, who just "dig their heels in" and re-state their fossilized opinions.

I will make one more statement. I received an email recently, the person stated that they understood ISOs and just didn't want to have to learn something different. This attitude is common among the elderly Linux users. The funny thing is, there isn't much to learn to make the switch to image format. The one area of difficulty is opening up an image file if one wants to extract the contents (vmlinuz, initrd, easy.sfs); however, that difficulty only applies to legacy Linux distributions, not to EasyOS.

Fast forward to November 2022, editing this page, I will add a more fundamental reason why I don't want to release EasyOS on an ISO anymore: it undermines what Easy is all about.

What I mean by that, is all of the documentation about Easy, and the features of Easy, are based on the layout of a boot-partition and a working-partition, whether it be in a USB-stick or installed in internal partitions.

If there was a live-CD, I would have to put in conditions throughout the documentation, like "except that you cannot do that if booted from a live-CD". The behaviour having booted from a live-CD is very different, and it adds up to a maintenance overhead, meaning it takes up my time.

There are only so many hours in the day. I have a tendency to get enthusiatic about something new, then get burnt out and have to wind back. Easy is, essentially, a one-person project, and I have to remain focussed on what is really needed.      

Tags: about