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Re: Graphical installer

[Petter Reinholdtsen]
> I want a Debian installer for new Linux users. :-)

[Bob Proulx]
> Since the current installer takes over the terminal and guides the
> user through the installation, it seems to me that it does the same
> job as other installers which happen to be graphical.  But with one
> difference.  The Debian installer does not use the mouse but instead
> uses the cursor keys and the enter key.

I did not have mouse support or graphical UI in mind with my comment.
It is important to have a colorful and friendly presentation, but I
find the current b-f view just fine in this respect.

> So I have to be specific and ask you is that specifically what you
> think new Linux users need?

Simpler questions and less questions.  A new user have no idea how to
partition a hard drive.  He should get help on how to do it, both
which partitions to create, and how large they need to be.  A new user
do not care about the difference between keyboard layout, installation
language and time zone.  He want to let the system know his location,
and get the rest automatically.  A new user do not know if he want MD5
passwords.  A new user do not know details about the content of his
computer, and should get everything (including sound and X
configuration) automatically detected and configured.

A new user care about the install time of the system.  At the moment
it takes more then an hour to install the first Debian CD on my test
machine.  A RedHat install on a less powerful machine took 20 minutes
two years ago.  Both installed from one CD.  I suspect reparsing the
dpkg/debconf/apt database is slowing down the second stage installer.

A new user are confused about the 'insert CD' prompt when installing
from CD.  This is simple to fix, but no one have done it yet.  The
main problem is that the prompt is a block with 4 lines of text, and
ends in a question split like "press en\nter".  It took a while before
I discovered that this was a question, and I've seen several new users
get confused the same way I was.

> I would divide what the new user thinks of as the installer up into
> parts.  The installer.  The tasksel/dselect package selection step.
> The debconf and non-debconf configuration step.  Let's talk about
> them individually.

Well, I would split it into two parts, the first stage and the second
stage.  The first stage is your 'installer' (normally refereed to as
boot-floppies), running until the first reboot from hard disk.  The
second stage is base-config which runs tasksel, dselect/aptitude and
installs the packages.  Both need a lot of work.  The second part
needs to handle 'retry', to let the user go back to previous questions
and try again.

> Packages which do not use debconf have left users with bad experiences
> as well.

Still someone missing.  exim, dpkg and ispell comes to mind.  At least
someone is working on a fix for ispell...

> Finally the CD package distribution is not so nice yet.  I often see
> people say that CD #1 is all that 99% of the population needs.  But
> having done a CD installation in the last week I disagree.

Currently making my own Debian-based distribution, I agree on this
one.  But this has improved a lot in the last few months.  Did you try
to raise your voice on the debian-cd mailing list, where this is being

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