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Re: points on future installation disks development

On 9 Jun 1997, 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

Can we add at some point a BOOTP/DHCP option to the network configuration,
to do it all automagically? This would be nice.

>     - selecting base directory in one screen
>     - use :
>       - ncurses and libdialog (from FreeBSD), or

ncurses may have licensing problems.

>       - slang (ncurses shouldn't be needed then, slang is said to have
>         a curses emulation), or

Well, SLang does have a distinct set of programming advantages. However,
we'll need a libslang-pic package in this case. Yes, it does have a curses
emulation, but it's much better to use it in native mode.

>       - turbovision (licence OK?), or
>       - something else (suggestions welcome)

>   - easier i18n (see below)
> - new features
>   - installation via serial terminal

Hmmm... nice idea. How about installation over a network, i.e. system
boots up, BOOTPs (or whatever) for IP info, then SysAdmin can telnet in
from a workstation to set it up.

>     - for blind users
>     - for automated testing

Impressive. Are we going to do this ever?

>     - use lilo in order to drive the serial line early (or modify syslinux ?)
>       (what about GRUB ?)

Modifying SysLinux is a nice option. Although I do have TASM, and so can
modify the sources, does anyone know how well NASM (which we have in the
distribution, I notice) can handle these files?

>   - an extra command-mode installation ?

i.e. SysAdmin sticks a special-custom disk into a workstation, and comes
back later, and it is running a fully installed Debian? A lot of people
have expressed interest in this.

>   - installing base via ftp and smbfs (and from tape ?)

SMBFS is just another FS, easy enough to do. Also, we should add in
NCPFS (from NetWare server) there, probably. I had a thought about FTP and
- we could use wget. This would also enable us to use HTTP. The version on
my system is 88K, but I'm sure this can be reduced if we kick out some of 
the functionality (like all the intelligent stuff).

>   - mouse support ? (gpm, or derived from gpm)

Have a look at kmouse if you want an alternative to gpm. So far, this is
looking really good, but it doesn't yet support the variety of mice that
gpm does. I have some patches to make it run on 2.1 kernels, which I will 
be sending to the author pretty soon.

However, gpm is only 33K, plus libgpm at 109K (required for both gpm or
kmouse) would take up around 140K.

> - i18n plan
>   - i18n for C files: use GNUish standard method ? (is this gettext ?)

Yes, this is gettext.

>   - i18n for shell scripts (swapsetup) (is there a good way for doing this) 
>     or rewrite them in C

Use the "gettext" command-line utility. Unfortunately, there seems to be
no documentation for it, but it is pretty simple to use. The gettext
command-line utility is, however, 17K, which could make it worth
rewriting nearly everything in C.

>   - i18n for busybox (is it worth the work and disk space ?)

Some of the more major parts of busybox (like ls) may be worth i18n.
However, I wouldn't do all of it.

>   - try to keep i18n and localization separated
>     - how many locale data sets will fit on floppy root.bin ?

Autodetection of a CD-ROM can happen very early in the boot process, then
at least we can put all of the locale data sets in, e.g. /l10n on the

>     - bigger root.bin for loadlin booting

This may be a problem for low-memory systems, though.

>     - for floppies: make extra locale file that can be copied to Rescue Disk

Or, seeing as at least one of the floppies is a DOS disk, why not create
"locale data packs". Each one would have the appropriate locale and
translation info for one locale, and this could be copied onto that DOS

>   - assign versions to original and translated text in order to keep
>     them in sync (and automatically find out when they aren't)

GetText can pretty much work this out itself, actually.

> - localization
>   - translate text files

Which text files do we actually have ATM?

>   - translations for the i18n'ed parts

> - minors
>   - better 'make bootable': MBR isn't that self-explaining

I think we ought to also at least have the option of not using MBR. I for
one don't like it, and use LILO instead. Others I know use OS/2 Boot

We should also have an option to install all the appropriate LoadLin
stuff into a DOS partition, and set it up properly.

> 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 will be willing to help.

Tom Lees <tom@lpsg.demon.co.uk> <tom@debian.org>  http://www.lpsg.demon.co.uk/
PGP Key: finger tom@master.debian.org, http://www.lpsg.demon.co.uk/pgpkey.txt.

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