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Re: Review of console-setup wrt D-I [very long]

On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 11:08:25PM +0200, Frans Pop wrote:
> > > 1. Package size - impact on initrd size and memory usage
> Both the way they are implemented and the total number of strings.
> [...]
> It still leaves the problem that several mechanisms D-I won't work. One of 
> them is removal of particular languages *at build time* of installer 
> images.

Today I made some changes in c-s.  After compression the strings of c-s 
that are not maintained by Debconf are about 200K.  They are situated in 
a file that can be easily filtered at the build time of the d-i image to 
include only the translations that are required or it can be even 
completely removed.

> > And if compression was used, the strings would ocupy less space than if
> > they were in debconf database.
> Only if you'd also _access_ the strings compressed. And you still have the 
> problem of basic package and initrd size.

This is what is used:
x=`zcat strings.gz | grep $language`

> No, it is a major bug because if it were solved it would mean at least the 
> strings and translations needed for keymaps that are not included would 
> be excluded as well. This contributes significantly to the size problem.
> Also, how can you call offering choices that are not supported and for 
> which the installation of the keymap is going to fail a monir bug?

The contribution to the size problem is insignificant, but otherwise I 
agree that this bug needs a fix.

> > This is unavoidable (in expert mode).  Anyone who has installed Debian
> > in expert mode knows that in most cases simple <Enter> is the the
> > proper answer.  The questions of c-s don't change this at all.
> Wrong. Expert mode is not a licence to just throw any random question at 
> users. They still have to make sense in the context of D-I.
> A number of the questions currently being asked IMO do not.

Random? :)

> Also, masses of users who run D-I for the very first time will choose 
> expert mode, even if they don't need it.
> We can all thank M$ for that because with Windows and Office choosing 
> export mode is in general the only way to make even basic selections of 
> how you want stuff installed.
> > > What happened to the design principle of D-I that we aim for a solid
> > > but *basic* system installation and that if users want bells and
> > > whistles they should configure them after system installation?
> >
> > Please notice that any question you skip or simplify in the udeb will
> > have to be (re)asked by the regular package so there is realy no gain
> > for the end user.
> Why is that? My point is that for most questions we can set correct 
> defaults that will work for 99% of users and there is no need for them to 
> see the other questions.

It is up to d-i team to make decisions about the installation process 
but my opinion is that to reduce the number of the questions in expert 
mode means to reduce the quality and the functionality of the installer.  
If users who don't need expert mode choose expert mode, then IMO this is 
a flaw in the design and documentation of the installer.

> > > 7) character set (can't we just set a default based on selected
> > > language?)
> >
> > Unfortunately no default is good in expert mode.  For example for most
> > languages there is the choice between 256 and 512 character fonts; for
> > the people in Russia there are three different character sets and no
> > good default, etc.
> But for 99% of users there _is_ a good default.

Isn't the expert mode created in order to support the other 1%?

> We don't display such a question *now* and I'm not convinced that we need 
> to.

We support only Russian language in Russia now.  And who knows how many 
other cases like this are there.  Console-setup provides support on the 
console for many languages that were otherwise unsupported.  There is a 
price to pay for this additional functionality.

> > > 10) virtual consoles (this should IMO not even be a debconf question,
> > > but just be configurable through the config file)
> >
> > What is the benefit to make this configurable only through the config
> > file?
> Question is very technical; almost nobody will want to change the default; 
> why confuse users with a question they are unlikely to understand.

OK, I agree.

Anton Zinoviev

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