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Bug#691366: wheezy 2012-10-24 daily built netinst

Package: installation-report
Severity: important


prelude: this is an installation report about things that were odd or
did not work. Please keep in mind that Debian is (used to be?) a great
distribution and the Debian developers do a lot of great work!

I downloaded a "testing" daily built netinst from Oct 24 for amd64
(CPU is a 64-bit i7).
Yet I have always used daily or weekly testing builds to install Debian
GNU/Linux on my machines without major problems. However, it has been a
long time ...and times seem to have changed.

Let's start chronologically. I describe some oddities in different
stages. The worst stuff comes in the end. IMHO the current wheezy beta
distribution turns out to be unusable for the broad audience of
GNOME or KDE desktop users.

Oddities in debian-installer:

(I decided to choose the graphical installer but I think there is no
 real difference to the text-mode installer.)

1. Internationalization

debian-installer asked me for my location. A list with seemingly
randomly chosen countries was offered. Although Germany is a big
country and many Debian users are from Germany, Germany was not
on the list. No problem: other -> Europe -> Germany. Everything's

The following question for the keyboard layout and locales was fine
to me: *I* want English/US locales and the standard US keyboard layout,
but I nevertheless was confused why I was asked for my location
before. debian-installer did not get the idea that a preselection for
German locales and keyboard layout could make sense.
(I remember that this has been different in previous versions.)

2. Partitioning

Later it was time to partition. Well, I could have reused the
partition table from the user that installed Ubuntu before.
However, I wanted to use LVM, so I thought it is nice that there
are predefined partition schemes, like LVM with a root, /home
and swap partition (and a /boot partition outside LVM).
I used this and it offered me something like:
 - 300 MB /boot
 - LVM:
   - home 472.5 GB
   - root  10.0 GB
   - swap  17.2 GB

Nice try. But I do not need 17.2 GB swap and I could indeed need more
than 10.0 GB for the root partition. Sure, but how can I change this?
I was unable to change anything. I remember that it has been possible
before by clicking on a partition but when I did this I could only
 - change the file system, formatting options and mount point
 - copy data on the partition
 - erase data from the partition
and NOT remove the partition or change size of the partition
(removal would have sufficed).

However, I thought, not that bad - it's LVM! - I can fix the settings
afterwards... so I continued...

Later I reinstalled the whole thing in expert mode where I added
"cfdisk" and "parted" modules to the debian-installer. I still was not
able to change the partition table according to my needs; there was
no cfdisk or parted partitioning tool in the debian-installer menu,
only the broken partman thingie...
(Of course I would have been able by activating a console and starting
cfdisk or parted, but it should be easily possible using the
debian-installer. I hope everyone agrees.)

3. Selection of packages

After installing the base system, the netinst debian-installer offered
me an interesting bunch of "categories" to install like:
 "[X] Debian Desktop environment"
  -- wait, I thought I could choose between KDE, LXDE, Xfce and GNOME?!
     The Debian website told me so!
     Mh, perhaps I can choose afterwards...
 "[ ] Web server"
 "[ ] Mail server"
 "[X] Print server"
  -- wait! Why is this preselected? Does the typical Debian user
     really set up print servers?
 "[X] SSH server"
  -- wait?! Why is this a category? Of course, I want openssh-server to
     be installed, who doesn't? I mean: _who_ doesn't?
 and so on.
I deselected the Print server and continued.
And, damn, no question about the Desktop environment. It just installed
On the other side ...I was a little happy about this because I did not
have to decide if I want to use a broken GNOME 3 or a broken KDE 4.
And, hey, I could easily switch in Debian if it turns out that GNOME
really sucked to much... so... I was looking forward to my new Debian
and waiting for the installation process to end.

I've already mentioned that I later reinstalled Debian. Then I found
out that the decision for the desktop environment happens to be in
the sophisticated Grub menu that comes before debian-installer is
invoked. But it was not just in the menu list. It was hidden in
 other -> other desktop environments -> KDE (for example) -> install
This. Is. Not. User-friendly!

After installation:

4. Booting the newly installed system

I first noticed, that it looked different to the Debian boot process
I am used to... The last time I have seen green "ok" messages during
a Linux boot process was a RedHat or SuSE in the late 20th century and
did not expect to see this in Debian.

But this is not a problem (not at all). The problem is, that a newly
installed system on 2-years old standard PC hardware _must_ _not_
_show_ _any_ _red_ "failed" messages!
But this was the case.
Something at the installation f**ked up the /etc/network/interfaces
file. However, the "failed" was because of a funny last line in that
file but it nevertheless got the network up and running...

5. Starting the desktop environment

It booted, gdm showed up with a fancy fade-in. Nice. So I log in and...
a fancy Debian logo. Nice. Hm... ok...
... still a fancy Debian logo.
... it should do something, right?
The mouse pointer moves when I move the mouse...
but nothing else happens...
A sad screen is looking at me saying something like "Ooops! This should
not happen. Log out and try again."
So I logged out and tried again. In vain.

Well... seems that the GNOME in testing is buggier than expected. Let's
try KDE. So I installed the whole kde task metapackage, stopped gdm,
started kdm, chose the KDE session and logged in and...
Yay! The Debian logo again and a hard disk icon... and...
wait, it should do something?
No. Nothing happened.
Let's take a look into "top" ... no processes are really doing
anything. Ok, let's kill it.

6. KDE programs work but only after some minutes

I killed X. Installed enlightenment. I run X directly, DISPLAY=:0
enlightenment_start, and HEY! IT WORKS! ... unbelievable!
So I tried again; I run X directly and DISPLAY=:0 startkde ...
It got stuck again after the hard disk icon.

I changed to the console, started lynx, downloaded a Debian stable ISO
in the hope that Debian is still the best distro in the world...
I changed back to X and was surprised: in the meantime, two other icons
have appeared beneath the hard disk icon.

Ok, perhaps this takes so long because it is the first run of KDE,
I thought. Maybe it does some file indexing or stuff... maybe...
(no, of course not!)

After 15 minutes (or so) I have seen the K Desktop Environment with a
panel and stuff. I started iceweasel and icedove and it worked nicely.
I wanted to run konqueror but nothing happened. I did some other things,
and suddenly a konqueror window appeared. Hm. I started k3b to burn the
Debian stable ISO. Well...
it took minutes until k3b came up. The same effect for kwrite.

And it is reproducible! I type "kwrite" on the shell and it takes
minutes until a window shows up. The same for konqueror or dolphin.
Funnily: "top" shows that the most resource-hungry process is top
itself, in other words: nothing really happens.
All these KDE programs just seem to wait for something.

On the other hand: konsole and the KDE settings manager showed up
really fast, and all the fancy desktop effects work well.

Ok, k3b showed up, I burned the CD. Time to log out. Ironically, the
logout dialog is one of these KDE programs that take minutes to show

So, I think I should install Debian 6.0.6 tomorrow in the hope that
it really is stable. Debian "testing" felt like far beyond
(And I have really good experiences with sid and experimental...)

debian-installer is not very smart regarding internationalization
settings, contains no usable partitioning tool, and the dialog
asking what kind of system to be installed is weird and totally
missing a choice for desktop environments. However, this is not
a problem since the standard desktop environments do not work anyway.
Gnome just says Ooops and KDE takes hours to run.


PS: Yes, I am going to file bug reports against debian-installer
and GNOME or KDE (whatever package deserves the bug report, desktop
stuff has become much too complex in Linux...), but I just *needed* to
write an installation report that shows the bad state of "testing"
in one run and not in several minor/normal bugs.

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