Hope - a Live Debian System for Chinese User

Created On: 2016-08-19

What is Hope

Hope is a live debian ISO image designed for Chinese users. It comes with CJK fonts and iBus pinyin and wubi input method. It can be written to DVD or flash drive and boot to a live debian system. It can also be used as a rescue disc like a gparted or clonezilla live CD.

  • Major Goals and Guidelines
    • Based on debian so everything is familiar.
    • Designed to be both a live distro and rescue disc.
    • Built-in fonts and input method configuration for Chinese users.
    • Favor user experience over ISO size.
    • Favor experienced user over novice. You should already know debian and shell well to use this live system fluently.
  • Feature list
    • Debain sid with 4.6 kernel.
    • Firefox with flashplayer, adblock plus with China EasyList.
    • Good multimedia performance. Includes non-free firmwares, dbus, pulseaudio, pavucontrol, and vlc. USB headphones also supported.
    • Displaying and typing Chinese works out of the box. Hope includes CJK fonts, ibus pinyin and wubi input methods. By default, press F12 to toggle input method. I am an emacs user, so I won't use Ctrl-Space for toggling input method.
    • Search and install any debian package using apt. Hope is configured to use mirrors.163.com as apt sources.list, That is a fast and good mirror in China. Network is configured via DHCP.
    • Some bashrc and emacs init config. Integrate many useful alias/functions and shortcuts.
    • Featuring i3 window manager, urxvt, screen, emacs, vim, pcmanfm, leafpad as basic desktop environment.
    • Featuring office software: abiword, gnumeric, evince, gthumb, gimp, cups
    • Featuring network software: rsync, lftp, filezilla, tcpdump, vncviewer, rdesktop, openssh-client, nfs, samba
    • Featuring rescue software: grub2, e2fs/xfs/ntfs file system tools, system information collectors, partition tools, clonezilla.

Why is Hope Created, What's the Target Users

I have always hoped that someone create a live system that can display Chinese (in a nice font) and allow input Chinese. I also hope the live system to be easier to use. The live system should just look and feel like a regular installed system. There is no need for special network configuration or software selection. Normal daily software should work there without further configuration or downloading from Internet.

Yet no one has enough knowledge on linux has cared to create and publish such a live system. So I created one myself.

The target user is experienced Chinese debian/Ubuntu user that wants to have a rescue disk or live operation system. Another target user would be Chinese language learners.


Screenshots will be added later on.

<!– TODO add screenshots here. –>

System requirements

How to Get It

The ISO image is 1.2GiB in size and will be shipped via pan.baidu.com (in China) or AWS S3 pre-signed URL (outside China). A $5 payment is required to download the image. Payments are accepted via paypal or alipay. Please send me an email with subject "request hope iso" after sending payment. If you are in China, mention your pan.baidu.com ID in the email so I can share it to you. If you are not in China, I will send you a pre-signed time-limited S3 URL.

You can find my paypal and alipay account in about page "Receiving Payments" section.

How to Use It

Get ISO, burn to DVD or write to flash drive. Boot from the DVD or flash drive.

When Hope is booted, you may want to learn more about debian and i3. It's just a live debian. So everything you know about debian applies there.

User can run sudo without password. Default user name is sylecn, password is live.

Table 1: Hope Quick Start
Win+RET Start a new terminal
Win+1/2/3 Switch to given workspace
Win+Shift+1/2/3 Move window to given workspace
Win+D or Alt-F2 Run program…
F12 Toggle input method
Pre-Installed apps (not all apps are listed)
firefox web browser
pcmanfm file manager
gthumb image viewer
gnumeric spreadsheet
abiword word processor
vlc video player
audacious music player
emacs editor
apt aliases  
setup apt-get install
remove apt-get remove
search apt-cache search
P apt-cache policy
Git Aliases  
gs git status
ga git add
gc git commit
gca git commit -a
gl git log
gd git diff

Known Problems

  • No zh-cn language pack is installed. All app features US English user interface. This is by design. Hope is not designed for novice. If you want to fund a build with zh-cn user interface, donate and email me.
  • Debian Installer (both graphic and text based) in the live CD didn't work. See bug 833706. This is currently a debian problem which can not be solved by Hope project unless I build on a distribution other than sid.

Why You Should Consider Building Your Own Live System

For me, a familiar operating system environment is key to use a computer effectively. Things like .screenrc, .bashrc etc should really be on every computer that I have access to. No matter it's for emergence rescuing or temporary live usage on a computer that doesn't have linux, a customized live system can boost your performance and make you happier easily.

In Hope, I have a collection of useful software for live and rescue purpose, So the base is quite solid. But some configuration is highly my preference. For example, I chose i3, screen, firefox over openbox, tmux, google chrome. For these kind of things, you should stick to your familiar software.

If you want to build your own debian live system, start with debian live official document.

<!– I will write about how to build a bootable usb drive in linux and how to build a live system sometime later. On "how to build a bootable usb drive", too many people/software make it over complicated. Experienced linux user can create a bootable usb flash drive without much trouble. Creating a bootable flash drive or updating an existing bootable flash drive usually doesn't require partitioning the disk or formatting a partition. As with many things in linux, you need to read a lot of background knowledge and software manuals before you finally get it, or rather, master it. –>

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