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Re: points on future installation disks development

On Jun 9, Sven Rudolph wrote
> My ideas on boot-floppies' future:
> - rewrite dinstall in C - reasons:
>   - runtime improvements
>     - don't run fdisk -l that often
>       - todo: make a libsfdisk from sfdisk
>     - more complex datastructures (avoid using sed often)
>   - more complex input masks and consistent user interface
>     - network configuration: everything in one screen
>     - selecting base directory in one screen
>     - use :
>       - ncurses and libdialog (from FreeBSD), or
>       - slang (ncurses shouldn't be needed then, slang is said to have
>         a curses emulation), or
>       - turbovision (licence OK?), or
>       - something else (suggestions welcome)

Please check out my Giggle library, which can currently be found at
<http://asm21.emma.cam.ac.uk/~asm21/giggle.html>, but will be moving in
just under a fortnight[1].

It is currently under development, but is basically designed as a
flexible interactive information gathering library (as distinct from UI
library, which is much more general). There is currently only one module
for it, which uses S-Lang and gives a `dialog'-like feel to the
interface, except it seems to be (mostly) quite a lot faster; I have also
written a basic dialog command-line clone, which seems to work fairly

Advantages for this application are:
 * Interfaces (IMO :) very easily to C code.
 * Would be able to provide alternative modules for different purposes
   (such as a simpler one for a brail interface?), with no recoding. This
   also makes the provision of an X-based install much more reasonable
   (although IIRC dinstall won't still be running by then?)
 * Designed for reasonably easy i18n (some details still to be worked
   out, and then I planned to ask the Debian teams to look at it).

As well as some things like context-sensitive help which would probably
be quite nice. ;)

Having (finally!) finished my exams, I'm just converting all my source
trees to CVS, and then I shall go back to work on it, and hope to have a
usable set of libraries within the next few weeks; it's certainly OK if
you're relatively clued up ATM, but it's not polished enough to join the
distribution! I'm very keen to add new modules etc, and for other people
to do the same (any X programmers? ;), and a couple of the features which
you've listed below could be done with alternative modules:

> - new features
>   - installation via serial terminal
>     - for blind users
I have no idea how brail terminals work, but this should be possible.

>     - for automated testing
A `response file' has been planned for a while, which would allow this
sort of thing.

>     - use lilo in order to drive the serial line early (or modify syslinux ?)
>       (what about GRUB ?)
>   - an extra command-mode installation ?
>   - installing base via ftp and smbfs (and from tape ?)
>   - mouse support ? (gpm, or derived from gpm)
This should go into the slang method at some point.

Although its normal mode of operation is to dynamically load modules, it
would be fairly painless to make a statically linked version (a metter of
a couple of defines, in fact), which would also remove the need for libdb


> Related topic: I expect to have much less time for Debian for the
> remainder of this year. So I definitely need help here; especially for
> the UI part.

I don't know much about UIs in general, but I'd be more than happy to
help (read `do most of the coding' :) if you ended up using Giggle. I'm
quite happy to help in any case, of course, but I know more about Giggle!



[1] I don't yet know where. :(
Andy Mortimer, andy.mortimer@poboxes.com
PGP public key available on key servers
I open my eyes, and look at the floor,
And now I don't see you anymore.

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