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Re: Failing to be of help with boot floppies

On Tue, 19 Sep 2000, Joey Hess wrote:

> Dale Scheetz wrote:
> > of what was happening and why it was unnecessary, and got replies like:
> > 
> > "It doesn't do that any more."
> > 
> > When you select these steps, the first screen presented is the "media
> > selection" screen. Here I choose "cdrom". For step 2 the next screen asks
> > me to insert the CD into the drive, which is perfectly adequate. In both
> > steps, the next screen is titled "Choose Debian Artchive Path" and asks a
> > useless and confusing question with the default value /instmnt
> > provided.
> I think the answer you got was actually that it doesn't show the "useless
> and confusing" value /instmnt anymore. In the _unreleased_ boot-floppies
> 2.2.17.

So, it's fixed in woody ;-)

Doesn't do much for a discussion of potato...

> > I don't dare express my feelings about anXious and its
> > inclusion at the last minute without any real functionality that can be
> > relied upon, given the reaction to my other complaints.
> As one of the people who made that decision, I'd be happy to hear it.

1. When it fails to find a graphics card the failure is complete and the
rest of the work should just be skipped. Instead you get a very hard to
read screen which implies that something good happened ... sort of ... and
the process continues as though everything were hunky dory.

2. Even when it succeeds at finding the card, very often the constructed
config file is useless. I have three different machines to install on, and
although one is pretty ancient, limited hardware, the other two are
reasonably new machines with reasonable hardware, and I still must resort
to some other configuration method after going through all the steps in
the anXious config.

3. Dozens of single value entry screens make the whole thing very
tedious. (this is true of the whole install BTW) Grouping together related
items on one screen makes the install more reasonable.

4. Even though the X maintainer doesn't like xf86config, I would much
rather have that tool here than anXious. I have always been able to build
a working config with this tool, except for one case where the server
didn't quite support my graphics card. The next release fixed that problem
as well...

> Note that you seem to be using "last minute" for values like "10 months
> before release".
While the decision may have been made then (by the working group) I have
a set of CDs toasted for me by a client (I can't afford the bandwidth to
follow these myself) which were produced by one of the developers, and
there was no anXious involved in the second stage installation...

> > From where I sit, it doesn't seem that there is any reasonable logic being
> > applied to this design, and every release a new team comes in to put their
> > own muddy finger prints on the current flawed design. At this rate we are
> > loosing ground and I see no hope of fixing anything.
> I hope you're aware that we are in the process of designing a replacement
> for the Debian installer. Feedback welcomed.
1. Split off the CD-ROM install from the floppy/network and make them
totally separate, with a means to cross from floppy to CD at the two
logical points. (I would do this by including a different floppy base
install for the CD. If the CD doesn't self boot, then the user makes a
rescue disk and possibly a drivers set, boots from it and gets back to the
CD asap)

2. Put all the "chatter" now present on installation screens back into
help files, and build dialogue boxes that have some content and structure
to them. This is specially true for the current second stage installation,
which currently has more individual screens to go through than the base

3. To simplify the base install, at least on the CD-ROM installation,
create a complete base system image, with the kernel and all drivers
included in the image. Without all of the "where is this file" stuff
currently in the install, plump that image down on the file system and then
configure it. You're done with the base.

4. Create, and use during installation, a "Network Configuration" tool
that can be used later much like the pppconfig tool. (which I like very
much, BTW) This can be run as early as possible in the network related
install (no problems doing this for the CD install as well ... doesn't
cost much to be flexible here)

5. Start prototyping early in the release cycle in a way that can involve
a wider range of input. One way to do this would be to include the testing
group in the early stages of development. They represent a diverse group
of machines and interests, and boot floppy testing is the easiest task for
this bunch.

6. As a corollary to number 5, make early versions of boot floppies
available on a more publicly accessible server. This last release was
mostly done on European servers, in directories held by the individual
developers. This makes it very hard to keep track of which release can be
found where. We need a canonical location on Debian machines, accessible
to the public, so that the necessary early testing can be more widespread.

I realize that I'm an idiot about many things Debian, but one thing I've
been involved in from the beginning, and understand in all its ugly
details, is the installation process. My overall impression is that
historicly the Debian install has been getting worse, not better. I don't
think this means that we must continue in this direction, but I understand
the momentum issues in Debian well enough to have little optimism on this

I feel compelled to note here that my original complaints have not yet
been addressed. Instead you suckered me into venting more of my
frustrations ;-)

I really need to go assign some new AMs and get them started on managing
an applicant, so I'll leave you alone now ;-)


_-_-_-_-_-   Author of "The Debian Linux User's Guide"  _-_-_-_-_-_-

aka   Dale Scheetz                   Phone:   1 (850) 656-9769
      Flexible Software              11000 McCrackin Road
      e-mail:  dwarf@polaris.net     Tallahassee, FL  32308

_-_-_-_-_-_- See www.linuxpress.com for more details  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-

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