For those of you about to read this, let me preface it by saying a few things:
I hope no-one takes offense to anything I say, I apologize in advance if that is not the case
I am a fan of the work being done by TKL, I use several of the appliances for personal use and will continue to do so
What I say here are personal opinions regarding what I consider to be the weaknesses of TKL as they exist today. There are, obviously, benefits as well but this post is focused on areas of opportunity.
I've been using TKL for a few years now, 80% of the appliances I have deployed were/are on my personal vSphere instance. The remaining 20% are spread between physical hardware and non-VMware hypervisors. I have built a number of TKLpatches and distributed them here. I do consider myself a semi-active member of the community and I try to improve other users experiences. To that end, I consider the community (the forums) to be one of the best aspects of TKL. Jeremy, in particular, tries to respond to everything and should get kudos for doing so (though I do not think he is a TKL employee).
I don't see a lot of interaction from the 'core devs' here and think their absence is a large detriment to the community. I am sure they have other things to do but see many posts where their input/response would be welcome. I would very much welcome their participation here.
People have been asking for some very specific features for quite a while now. In particular 64-bit support is likely the most requested item and people were really looking forward to it being part of the recent TKL 12.0 releases. Unfortunately, 64-bit was not delivered with this recent release; in this day and age, I consider this a huge hole in the appliance portfolio. This leads me to a somewhat related point, I'm not sure what the TKL model is. Is it open source? Is it some closed source and some open source? If it were all open source, maybe the community could put forth some effort to help port/support 64-bit appliances. As it stands today, I consider the process/tools used to create the official TKL releases to be a black box that I cannot help with. Can we make that more public so others can help deliver features that are being asked for?
Quality and Testing
I have certainly not tried every one of the 100 appliances, but I have tried several, and think they're missing the mark slightly. Take for example, the ejabberd appliance... I installed this in less that 5 minutes and went to create an account.. only to find that I can't create and account due to a configuration issue with either ejabberd or speeqe. There were several forum posts, from 2+ years ago pointing out the same problem yet it was not addressed in this latest release. Sure, I can figure it out. I'm a developer. I've been using Linux for almost 20 years. But, why should I have to? I have had similar experiences with other appliances, where features just don't work like they should. In short, I am not sure these appliances are really tested before being released and don't think that community developed fixes/workaroduns are incorporated into future versions.
Preference of distribution upstream packages instead of up-to date software
If you look at the dokuwiki appliance, it includes dokuwiki version 0.0.20091225c-10+squeeze2. There have been 4 official releases of dokuwiki after that release. I know it's easiest to include the versions of software packaged with Debian or Ubuntu but I would prefer a much more recent version. One could argue that we could use TKLBAM to migrate from the old to the new but often times, the software packages themselves do not offer a clean upgrade path, which leaves us in a situation of starting from scratch or using old software. It is more work to package newer versions, I grant that. Regardless, I want that newer version; without it I have been reverting to taking a clean OS install and putting the packages on myself. Similar to quality and testing, I don't think the dokuwiki appliance is the only one with outdated software.
Breadth of TKL Library
I consider the breadth of the TKL library to be too large. I, personally, do not see the need for 100+ appliances and get the idea that having a large library is more valued than a high quality one. I would rather see 20 appliances that work very well with updated software than 100 that may or may not work properly. I can't see how two people can support 100 different appliances and carry forward much knowledge regarding what the appliances should do.
In short, I think there is a lot of potential with TKL and I am happy that it exists. I do think there are some shortcomings that need to be addressed, possibly with some ability for expanded community involvement and/or a pairing down on the number of supported appliances. I'd be happy to discuss this with anyone who cares to.