Re: Problems with dselect...
Re comments such as:
| > Getting dselect to install the packages I wanted was a real pain [...]
| Yep, I didn't care much for dselect either. [...]
1) I think dpkg / dselect / ... are tremendously important
and impressive! I'm used to the convenience of the SGI
package management system, and never expected to find
something comparable on a free, immature unix. After
all, that little company across the puddle here ...
Micromind? I forget ... has never managed to produce
a package management system for MS-Windows. Being able
to de-install cleanly is -SUCH- sysadmin heaven :) :) :)
2) My person suspicion is that, for every 100 seconds or so
of manual installaction effort required, a software product
loses about 50% of its potential market, who mutter
"fuckit!" under their breath and go back to trying to meet
Speaking as someone who has just recently started using
Linux, and installed it on 3-4 boxes so far, (and who
prolly wouldn't have managed without help from Darren --
thanks again! :) I think dselect requires WAAY too much
interaction just to get a first install of Debian so one
can get a sense whether it works at all and is of any
personal interest or utility. One really wants to
absolutely minimize the intellectual effort required to
get to that initial "Gee! My own working unix!!" rush.
(I don't think minimizing the wallclock time to that
rush is nearly as important: Lots of people installing
my Muq package run the torturetest, which eats up HOURS
of wallclock time. But it requires no interaction
whatever, so they wander off and check the results
later. What they don't wanna do is be stuck glued to
the terminal having to make install decisions they
don't really understand.)
Here's an attempt to turn above grumps into a constructive
-> Introduce the idea of a "Debian configuration" -- a
complete set of packages guaranteed to work together
and constitute a complete, usable Debian install,
and actively maintained by a Debian volunteer much
as packages are currently maintained.
-> Have dselect offer the first-time user a menu of
these supported configurations at initial install,
so s/he can get a complete, working system with
minimal effort just by picking one that looks
appropriate, instead of having to learn the dselect
command set and thrash through hundreds of packages
generating conflicts and panicking when they appear
and so for.
The sort of menu I'm thinking of is:
[A] Minimal configuration. Just enough to run rationally.
[B] Demo. All the cool games &tc. Preferably with an
attract mode that stores can run. :)
[C] Developer's configuration. The basics.
[D] Webserver configuration: A complete working HTTP plus
handy related tools like a full Perl with msql &tc.
[E] Everything. I've got 5G of disk, just install everything
rationally possible. (My personal preference!)
Note: It would be VERY nice if the above menu specified the
amount of disk space required for each configuration. It
would be even nicer if it checked available disk space and
refused impossible installs.
In general, one thing which SGI's package management does
which dpkg / dselect does not appear to do -- and which I
miss -- is careful space management: It knows exactly how
much disk space each package takes once installed, and how
much disk space each package needs DURING installation,
and verifies that an install has sufficient space to
complete successfully before attempting a requested
de/install sequence. Plus, it can display this info.
I find this -tremendously- useful when trying to decide
what to install, and later when deciding what to de-install
to free up enough space to operate.
Let me close by registering a fervently desired wishlist
entry for dselect version godsknowwhen :) -- add to the
standard set of Debian package scripts a "reconfig"
script, perhaps written using the portable subset of
Tcl/Tk which can be supported both on X and ascii terminals,
which allows the user to do menu-driven re/configuration of
This would allow dselect/dpkg* to serve as a central
configuration management tool for the complete Debian
Linux system, displaying all installed packages, one
hopes by then the resources such as diskspace used
by each package, and also (via the reconfig scripts)
the status of each package, with interactive menu-driven
control of that status.
Ok, I'm an impossible dreamer :)