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comments on dselect

I used dselect (dpkg 0.93.75) for the first time this weekend.  It
seems very powerful.  Although I feel much more comfortable with it
after having spent a few hours with it, there were some rude shocks in
learning how to use it:

1. I thought I would start small and just install a couple packages at
   first to get the hang of it.  After selecting two packages, I was
   very surprised to find that dselect had chosen many more packages
   FOR ME and installed them without even asking.  I suppose these
   were the recommended packages and I should have noticed that they
   had been selected for me.  However, this was not at all
   anticipated.  It would be better to provide an option to "Select all
   recommended packages" instead of assuming that the user actually wants

2. It took a while to figure out what dselect was doing when it puts
   you in the dependency screen.  A header explaining what's going on

3. The use of the "q" option to move out of the dependency screen is
   not at all intuitive.  In most programs I use, quit means "quit"
   (exit the program entirely).  Perhaps "u" for "up" or ESC would be
   more reasonable (I prefer ESC).

4. I did not expect the packages that are automatically selected for
   me upon entering the dependency resolution screen to stay selected
   when I deselected the package that brought me into the dependency
   resolution screen.  Here's the situation:  I selected a package and
   was immediately switched to the dependency resolution screen for
   that package.  The required packages were selected for me.  After
   seeing all the dependency problems, I changed my mind, deselected
   the package I had intended to install and backed out by pressing
   "q".  Upon installing, I was surprised to see the packages required
   by the package I deselected being installed.  I think a better
   behavior would be for dselect to return packages to their previous
   (selected/deselected) state when backing out of the dependency

5. Forgive me if I missed this.  Is there a way to do a search (like
   CTRL-s in emacs) for a particular string?  This would sure help
   when one is looking for one package in the list.

6. Would it be possible to turn off all the unnecessary output (e.g.,
   the gazillion "skipping package xxx" messages) by default during
   package configuration?  I don't care what dpkg is NOT doing!  I
   only want to know what it IS doing.

I think dselect needs to be made as intuitive as possible to prevent
new Debian users from giving up in frustration.  Dpkg/dselect is a
really great tool.  It would be a shame if people were turned off to
just because they had trouble figuring out how to use it.


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