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Bug#712907: grub-installer: No longer installs automatically on a normal machine with one hard drive

tags 712907 + help


On 20/06/13 18:56, Petter Reinholdtsen wrote:
> The change introduced in version 1.86 added a new question in Debian
> Installer, causing the installation to hang at the end asking where to
> install grub.

This dialog is really not accessible to a normal person.

In wheezy ISTR a multiple-choice dialog listing the detected devices or
partitions on the system?  (Or maybe I'm thinking of `dpkg-reconfigure
-plow grub-pc`).  Could we not have something more closely resembling that?

At the very least, there should be a best-guess default value to blindly
hit 'enter' to.  I know we struggled to get that right before, but let
me explain why I think this dialog is no better:

The instructions in the dialog are plain wrong in some cases:
/dev/sda is not always the name of the first hard drive.  Some
virtualised block devices have other names;  perhaps some RAID drivers
still use other names such as /dev/ciss/ /dev/ida/?  And FWIW
GNU/kFreeBSD has /dev/da0, /dev/ada0 or other naming for disk drives.

(Did it happen before that when installing from a bootable USB stick,
that would sometimes be /dev/sda instead?  Or almost certainly if say,
installing from USB stick (which would be attached first) to iSCSI
(attached later)?  Likewise if your target disk is a removal hard drive
there is some uncertainty here.

Therefore we still have the same 'bug' that this change was intended to
fix - we simply shifted the burden to the user, to figure out the right
device, but we give no reliable information in the dialog (such as
partition list, device identification) to help make that decision.

It could be ambiguous what the "second partition" means sometimes.  And
I don't even know myself what happens if you try to install a bootloader
to an msdos extended partition /dev/sda2, vs. the logical partition

Mention of /dev/sda5 seems presumptuous of having an msdos disklabel.

I doubt users will remember exactly which partition was formatted and
mounted as what, especially if they let the auto-partitioner decide that
for them.  If you choose to 'Go Back' at this point, it doesn't seem
possible to even get back into the partman menu to review those.

Tagging this with 'help' because I think this is a really serious
usability issue, underpinned by the technical challenge of guessing the
right choice, and that is essentially unaddressed.

Steven Chamberlain

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