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Bug#511287: debian-installer: Should have a task for installing KDE or XFCE instead of Gnome

On Saturday 22 August 2009, Fathi Boudra wrote:
> We should revisit Joey's argument.

Personally, I agree with you. But I do feel the choice should only be 
offered if it is done correctly. And that means someone will need to 
invest a significant amount of time to implement it.

Here are my thoughts on how selection of a desktop environment (DE) could 
be done in a responsible way.

The main limitation for any implementation is debconf. When a user is 
offered a list of choices, there is *very* little space to explain the 
choices. And I agree with Joey that just showing
   * GNOME
   * KDE
   * Xfce
   * LXDE
is going to confuse the hell out of newbies, _even_ if you add short 
descriptions after them.

Colin Watson has recently implemented a "help" option in _c_debconf, which 
could be a solution to that, as the user could then get a help screen 
with any amount of additional info about the desktops.
BUT, tasksel runs in the /target chroot, and we're still using debconf 
there. There has been progress towards getting cdebconf ready for the 
installed system, but AFAIK that's still some way off.

So, maybe getting cdebconf ready for the installed system should be a 
blocker for this?

Also, the user should only be offered DEs *that are actually available and 
installable*. For example, if the user installs from full CD1 and does 
not add a mirror during apt-setup, only GNOME will be available and thus 
that should be installed automatically.

(c)debconf does not support nested choices in a single dialog, so we'd 
have to decide how to offer the choice of desktops:
- keep the current tasks dialog as it is and add a second dialog after
  that which is only shown if "graphical desktop environment" was selected
  on the first (maybe only at medium/low priority?);
- list all available DEs in existing main tasksel dialog, together with
  the server tasks.

We'd also have to decide whether to allow the user to choose only one or 
multiple DEs (with the second option above selection of multiple would be 
the only possibility!).

Finally, IMO the check for available diskspace would need to be improved, 
especially if we allow selection of multiple DEs. Currently we check for 
a fixed value, but the different DEs require very different amount of 
disk space.


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