[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Some thoughts on a new installer

I just read through the docs on a new installer. I think it is still too
complicated for a newbie who does not know what a base system or a kernel

The current installation system (including kernel) fits on a 2.88M Floppy
image (CD Install) or two 1.4M disks. It would be great if the whole stuff
could be installed from a single 1.4M disk.

I think the easiest way to accomplish an install is the following:

1. The boot system starts and asks the user for novice or expert mode.

2. In novice mode the harddisk is automatically zapped, partitioned, made
bootable without any additional fuss of questions. The installation system
is copied to the harddisk and made bootable. Then the system either
reboots into the installed system or is started in a chrooted environment.

No additional media is needed up to that point. No questions are asked
that are irrelevant (such as keyboard, timezone, lilo setup etc). The user
interface requirements are minimal.

3. In expert mode the user can partition the system and load additional
drivers. The lilo configuration can be tightly controlled. The
installation system is again copied to the HD.

After the installation system is running from the HD:

1. The user is prompted for installation media (or if the installation
media provides more space like a CD that media is automatically detected).

2. dpkg is installed via a shell script. An initial packaging environment
is setup.

3. Essential packages are installed using dpkg in order of importance for
the system. Questions are asked as needed. One of the first modules to
install is presumablly debconf and apt.

I have bootstrapped some systems in such a way. It works with some hurdles
which could be fixed.

Gradually the installation systems files are replaced by the
real(tm) debian stuff.

Note the advantages:

1. No base system needed.

2. No udebs needed.

3. Easy installation for a newbie.

4. The current boot-system can be simplified and used for two
purposes. The initial boot system as well as for a base for the future

5. An installation is possible without having any media or base system at
all. The result will be pretty limited functionality on a HD.

6. The detection of advanced hardware (such as video, mice etc) is
not necessary via the initial boot system. The initial boot system just
needs to provide one way to get to more .debs. Custom boot floppies could
be made for special media. 

Boot-floppies could be generated for a CD boot which do not need NIC or
networking support.

Floppy installs could be customized for an installation via the
network. CD support eventually could be removed.

Maybe it would be possible to setup a minimal kernel/modules/basesystem on
a 1.44 floppy that simply fdisks, formats and makes a hd bootable? And
then it has the ability to get to a debian mirror and install something.

Such a thing would be great to have.

Kill the base system and make the boot system as small as possible. Get to
a functional boot from the target media as soon as possible. This will
simplify what we need to do.

Just some thoughts. Shoot me down.

Reply to: