Re: comments on dselect
Michael E. Deisher writes ("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
I think that this should be the default, because it is less likely to
produce bug reports of the form "I can't find `man', how dare you
produce a system with no `man'".
I'll arrange for the introductory help screen to appear on entry to
the package list, and I've changed it to say that packages will be
selected by default and how to override this.
> 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
> (e.g., "DEPENDENCY RESOLUTION MENU FOR PACKAGE xxx") would be
Again, I'll changed it so that it now puts you in the introductory
help screen for the resolution list, and you then press Space to
actually go to the list.
This behaviour will be configurable.
> 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).
`q' doesn't mean quit, really, it means `confirm'.
> 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
`q' means confirm, as above. I've changed this to mean Return now.
That makes it clearer that when you hit the key (Return, rather than
`q') that you're accepting everything you see.
The introductory screen (which you clearly didn't read in detail, and
which I've now made harder to miss) tells you how to abort the
original change that brought up the list.
> 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.
/ does a search, \ repeats it.
> 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.
No, I'm not going to turn that off - I think it would confuse people
more. (These messages happen during installation - the unpack phase -
not during configuration).
> 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.