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Re: Installer help text

* On Wed, Feb 08, 2006 at 12:10:22PM -0500, Lennart Sorensen wrote:
> I believe the current plan is for the text installer to still be the
> normal one.  The graphical one is just a different way to present the
> same questions.  This means it will use the exact same text and
> questions.  I am not under the impression anyone is currently interested
> in making the graphical installer ask any different questions or have
> the text changed.

  OK...if that's the plan, then that's fine.  Maybe I'm just imagining
problems where there aren't any.  :)

> There is no reason there could be a button in both text and graphical
> installer to select to pop up a window with detailed help on a question.
> This is not something you require graphics for.

  Yes, but in the console environment you'd have to visually leave and
come back to the installation process.  I realize it's just visual
semantics, but if you're talking about a situation where someone's doing
something they're not 100% sure of in the first place (the installation
as a whole) and then they hit something that's totally out of left field
(like, "shadow password...wtf?") and they have to open another window
just to read about that before even getting back to the original thing
that they didn't know that well to begin with...it's just easier to keep
a frame of reference if you can see that the original window is still
there and that you won't have to figure out how to navigate back to it.
  Again, realize that I'm not thinking of expert (or even advanced)
users as the target audience here...I've personally sat and watched
people who have never installed any operating system before try and go
through the Sarge installer, and these are the kinds of things they
pause on and get uncertain.

> The current installer can on many systems be setup almost entirely by
> hitting enter on most systems.  Most of the defaults are sensible except
> for the few things that can't have sensible default (like partitioninig
> the disk and picking a password).

  I agree that that's true; the problem I see is that newbies either
don't know it at all, or don't know it at a deep level.  They see
something like "do you want a desktop system, a multi-user system, or
the default appropriate for most people" and they don't know what to do.
It even _says_ "default appropriate for most people" and they still
freeze up.  Why is that?  I think it's because the current language
doesn't speak to them.
  Perhaps this could be solved by just having one screen at the
beginning that said "if you don't know, take the default and move on".

  For the record, I think partitioning can have sensible defaults.  Get
the size of the disk, decide on a sizing algorithm, and go.  For
example, you could build partition sizes like so:

1) The first 20 MB goes to /boot, unless the disk is smaller than some
   particular size, in which case make it 5 MB or 10 MB.
2) For every 50 MB of disk space, give 3 MB to /var.  Minimum 10 MB, max
   2 GB.
3) Swap should be 2 x RAM, but minimum X and maximum Y.

  Of course these algorithms are simple, but they don't have to be
complex, just give a basic running system.  As soon as a user starts
having partition size preferences, they can just create their own
partition sizes and then the algorithm is irrelevant anyway.

> Well maybe in the future the graphical installer will be made different
> from the text installer, but for now I don't think that is likely to
> happen.  The main drive for a graphical installer I believe is support
> for some languages that were very very hard to support on the
> framebuffer text installer.

  OK, well perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree a little, here.  I
guess it's not really that I think the graphical installer should use
_different_ text, but more like it should just use _more_ text.  If the
console installer is going to remain the default even when the graphical
one is ready (which I personally think is a bad idea), then I'm not sure
what to say because I think the console installer would become pretty
difficult to navigate if it had these extra help screens.  What I had
envisioned was the graphical installer having the extra extended help
readily available, and the console installer either would just ignore it
or make it available by pressing a special key or something, since you'd
have to be at least a little advanced to even be overriding the default
to get the console installer in the first place.

  John  ! Since this email isn't signed, you can't really tell it's from
 Buttery! me; I'll hopefully have my computer working normally again
www.io.c! soon, but until then...gotta love catastrophic drive failure.
om/~john! Mmm, rdiff-backup...

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