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Re: redesigning the debian installer

Whee, I just made it through the entire thread!! :-) Some comments:

1) hardware detection
Libraries... libdetect is the big one. When it was first started I had looked
at it and thought (IMHO only) it was a mess, but since then it seems to have
improved significantly. it is reasonably modular and you can decide not to
probe for isa devices if you don't want to, etc.

other than libdetect there aren't any big projects out there. however, for 
modern devices all the "detection" is really done by the kernel already (cf.
pci, usb) and really all is needed is a good database of id-to-driver mappings.
The rest can be done with a very simple C program and some shell scripts.

I also saw references to vii (DCC based monitor setting retriever). I'll
definitely check it out. Several of us had thought about doing this last
year but it unfortunately never happened. of course, if we standardize on
X4 for woody then this is moot.

2) fully automated installs
Like others I think this will be one of the most important features we should
build into the new installer. I like the idea of "profiles" or "scripts" that
have answers to various installer questions. Using debconf for this seems
like a natural extension. (see more below).

3) custom-built images (through a CGI or something)
Very interesting idea, but I think this should be a longer-term goal. As
Brooks puts it so eloquently, beware of the "Second System Effect"!

Let's try to get a complete but *simple* system going first.

4) C-based debconf
Anyone (other than Glenn and myself) interested in working on this? I had 
planned on tackling this after i finish udpkg, but my time will be somewhat
limited in the next few weeks. I don't *think* it should be too difficult to
do this....

A month or so ago I had posted a proposal to design a detachable database
system for debconf that is modularized (can use a text or binary, local or 
remote) database. i think we can work this in with the automatable installs:
a text-based debconf database is easily editable by a system administrator.
otoh, a network based (ldap or whatnot) system will also allow automated
installs over a lan/wan. Of course, size/complexity is a concern as well.

Debian Developer <tausq@debian.org>

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