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Re: points on future installation disks development

Andy Mortimer <andy.mortimer@poboxes.com> writes:

> [1  <text/plain; us-ascii (7bit)>]
> 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].

In general this sounds to be useful.

> 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
> well.
> 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?)

For the boot-floppies purpose we won't need any X interface. The only
needed alternative interfaces is simple command-line (like a terminal
without direct cursor addressing). giggle could try to support this,
e.g. by converting a message box into a text line and "Preass Enter to
continue" or by converting a list box into a list with numbered

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

Right; I added this to the list.

> 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.

One person contacted me on this, he simply wanted to control the
Debian installation from his preconfigured (second) PC which can act
as a serial terminal.

So it is sufficient to redirect the console to a serial port.

But as I gathered direct cursor addressing and all the pseudo-graphics
stuff can get confusing for blind people, so an extra command-line
mode without any direct cursor addressing were useful.  (A Braille
display usually shows only one line, so one has to navigate through
all lines in order to find where something changed.)

> 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
> etc.

Right. I didn't stress that we have strict disk space
requirements. But replacing ncurses with slang should give us some

> 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!

This is a good argument for giggle.

Sven Rudolph <sr1@inf.tu-dresden.de> ; WWW : http://www.sax.de/~sr1/

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