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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
   some deadline.
     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
that package.

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 :)


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