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Re: redesigning the debian installer

"Bernhard R. Link" wrote:
> On Tue, 12 Sep 2000, Joey Hess wrote:
> > The Installer UI
> > ----------------
> >
> > Debconf (or rather, a smaller C implementation of the same specification)
> > is the main UI framework for the installer. Using debconf, it should be
> > possible to plug in new UI's with a minimum of difficulty.
> >
> Is there already any work about the smaller C implementation?
> When I tried to look for some features in debconf some month ago and
> realized I do not even understand such complex perl-code, I planed to
> write such a thing myself but just lack the time to get it written myself
> but would like to contribute, if someone or somegroup starts with it.
I started looking at a c debconf a few months back, i too got a bit lost
in perl, i found it helpfull to go from the debconf specification in
debconf-doc. Also keep in mind our purpose is really to implement it for
the installer, it doesnt have to do it exactly like the proper debconf,
but it really has to get the system to a state where the official (perl)
debconf can take over. Eventually a "c" debconf could take over the role
from the "perl" debconf, but thats not our primary purpose.

Debconf is pretty complex, it really has three interfaces, the user
interface, the backend (database), and the package interface.

To cater for minimum conditions the user interface should be able to
handle basic text, this is all thats needed to begin with, fancyness can
be taken care of once we have functionality. There are heaps of worthy
graphics libraries to choose from for the eye candy ui modules.

I looked at different databases, to try and use something off the
shelf.. libgdbm is small (~40KB i think) and is also used by perl, but
is depeciated, its suggested to use db2 instead of this which is >100KB
i think, so i think the basic backend should be just text files
generated from debconf rather than try using a proper database. Other
databases could eventually be used, there are a few libraries that
convert between different database formats, that would be cool.

The programming interface has to be strictly compatable with exisiting
debconf because thats what all the existing pacakges are written for.

Extra UI and database formats should be added as dynamically loadable
modules, but the basic minimum text UI, and text file DB should be built
into a "c" debconf as they should take much space, and we always want to
have something usable (even if its ugly) incase something goes wrong.

I got bogged down with it and havent looked at it for a few weeks,  i
was starting to code, but was really only experimenting, nothing of
value. Im working on some busybox stuff at the moment, in a few weeks i
might be able to get back into this.

> > The user's view
> > ---------------
> >
> > Note that since debconf allows questions to be prioritized, it is possible
> > that the install process will skip over any or all of the questions.
> >
> > The install begins with a bootloader. It is unlikely that this will change
> > significantly from what is used now.
> It would be very much convenient, if there would be a possibility to
> install if from an client over the network without the need of an
> boot-disk.
> I think it would be on of the most bottom parts of the todo-list, and it
> propably will not affect on the way the installation is done, but it would
> be nice to have it on the todo-list and have a short look on it to ensure,
> that it realy would work with the whole system.

If the user interface and database can be redirected, it could be
installed from anywhere.
I think there is a lot of work to be done (issues to be sorted out) to
get proper network debconf working, like deciding the scope of a
question/template, i.e. where is it valid.
This sort of stuff i think sorted out by the official debconf, while we
are playing catchup.


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