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Re: a study topic for advanced maintainers

Please consider carefully why you are you working on minimalism at all.

It's not clear how minimalism would result in a user-frendliness
improvement, and user friendliness should be the #1 goal of any change
to the installation system. I want to make it clear that we can not
allow any changes to the installation system that make it less friendly
to the naive user. The sophisticated users can have the features they
want, but they have to provide a way for the naive user to take an easy
path through installation.

From: Christoph Lameter <clameter@waterf.org>
> The kernel takes around 500-600K
> Some functionality of the root system could be removed such as
> the network configuration / kernel configuration / making bootdisks and
> only enabled later when packages are installed.

I would like to have the base system come up with dpkg-ftp ready to run.
That is the best way to get packages for any internet-connected user, and
requires ppp in the base as well and a menu to configure ppp. Thus, we need
more network configuration than today, not less.

Regarding the kernel configuration, this is going to be necessary to mount
the root in a fully-modular kernel.

Making boot disks is probably a bad thing to defer until later. Please consider
the cost/benefit.

> Dpkg itself is around 130K. I guess with some extras it would fit into
> 200K. Compressed that will be 100K. We have more room than that.
> It should fit on a 1.2M disk.

It will also pull in more of the ncurses shared library.

bruce>I still think it makes more sense to mount something (CD, NFS, hard disk
bruce>with MSDOS filesystem, etc.) and extract a pre-prepared base archive. The
bruce>no-mount option is still available as long as you have enough RAM.

> The step with the base system forces you to:
> 1. Have two distinct loading procedures: One for the base and another one
> for the packages to be installed later.

You extract a tar archive once. There's nothing at all wrong
with this. Please demonstrate how eliminating this step would
improve the system.

> The base package must be loadable from CD, Network etc to have a one
> or no installation floppy solution. That means the root is growing
> by the functionality required to access the network etc.

The base system has all of the functionality necessary to use the net
except for the ppp package. Loading the base from CD or hard disk
without a floppy is something we can set up without major changes.

> Therefore the code to load the base system wastes space on the
> installation-root. That code is in another form in the base system.

I have at most 5K for "star", the simple tar program vs. at least 120K
for dpkg. "star" and 30 other tools make up the 37K "busybox" program
on the root floppy.

Please demonstrate how replacing this 5K program with the 120K dpkg
program makes the floppy smaller.

> Confuses the user who has to specify at two different times where
> elements of the installation come from and probably does not realize
> what is going on.

I don't think specifying what disk to mount, if a mount is necessary,
is a big deal compared to operating dselect.

> Introduces the problem of the boot system having a different ways of
> accessing the archive than the installed base.

There are no problems associated with this.

> You need to reboot to install the packets.

You need to reboot sometime. It's not a big deal, it happens from a
menu selection and the menu continues after the reboot. It also tests
that your system _will_ boot, which you would do anyway.

> The kernel is limited to 4 Meg Ramdisks by default (can be overriden
> though)

Just use ramdisk_size=XXXX. Not a big deal.

> An having a 10 Meg decompressed base system in memory+the root does
> probably mean trouble for those people having small memory sizes.

So they mount a disk and get it off that. Where would you have it come
from? They have to get the packages from somewhere, and the packages
are going to be a lot bigger than 10M.

> Some way needs to be found to make loading the base and installing the
> packages easier to handle for novices. It took me around 20 attempts
> before I could setup a working debian system. Some of it was due to my not
> understanding the difference between the base and the rest. Why the later
> installation of packets overwrote parts of the base system was really
> something hard to understand.

Please present a convincing explanation of how you will make the system
more easy for the novice.

I really do think that so far you are coming at this from the wrong



Bruce Perens, Pixar Animation Studios
*** "Toy Story" video tape in U.S. stores October 30 ***
Worldwide box office total for "Toy Story": $353,275,005

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