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Bug#269710: debian-installer: hotplug configuration leaves mail in /var/mail/mail

Eric C. Cooper wrote:
> I tried the sarge rc1 netinst iso yesterday.  Everything worked fine,
> but the configuration of the hotplug package left mail from Debconf in
> /var/mail/mail.  Since exim4-config does not set up an alias for user
> "mail", it is unlikely to get seen by anyone.

It's so well hidden that Eric is probably the first to notice this,
though I found a copy on each machine I've installed with d-i. Here's the

  If you're booting with a USB keyboard and/or mouse, and want to defend
  against boot failures like missing modules, you should probably use static
  linking for the "hid", "keybdev" (and/or "mousedev"), "input", "usbcore",
  and USB Host Controller modules.

The reason this goes to /var/mail/mail is because hotplug is installed as part
of the installation of the base system, immediatly after debootstrap,
and at this point, the exim (or other mailer on some derived
distributions) configuration is completly stock. For exim this means
that mail to root is redirected to the mail user. There's also no
debconf frontend to use to display notes.

Note that after the base system install, exim is configured as part of
the base-config run, and begins to send mail to a more sane location,
such as the new user created by the base-config run. But that's too late
to get this note sent somewhere sane.

I feel there are several bugs here:

 - d-i should really provide a way for package it is installing to
   communicate with the user via debconf, at least to inform the user of
   errors. But that's a long term thing. It might possibly be worthwhile
   for d-i to set the environment variable to supress notes being
   mailed at all during the installation process.
 - exim really should have a better default than dumping root mail in
   "mail"'s mailbox
 - hotplug should not display this note on fresh debian installs,
   because even if the user saw it, it would only be confusing. The note
   is, after all, recommending the user recompile their kernel, which is
   really not possible when you're in the middle of bootstrapping
   debian. And the stock debian kernel with modular usb works fine. If
   anything, this note should be moved to the README.Debian file. I
   really consider it yet another instance of Debconf note abuse; be
   warned that debconf notes will probably be going away entirely
   after sarge is released, due to such abuse.

I'm going to split this bug up into three separate bugs as detailed

see shy jo

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