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Re: Linuxconf

On Fri, May 29, 1998 at 02:21:45PM -0500, David Engel  wrote:
> On Thu, May 28, 1998 at 09:48:56AM -0500, John Goerzen Linux Expo Laptop wrote:
> > I'm typing at you on my laptop while sitting on a soft chair at the Linux
> > Expo here at Duke, so if you wouldn't mind, please include a CC of your
> Lucky you.

What I didn't mention is that it has been 90 F and very humid outside, the
taxi service is rather poor, etc.  But still, the Expo has been great :-)

> I hope to get a closer look at linuxconf soon.  Based on what I have
> read, I have some preconceptions of what it does and want to see if
> they are accurate or not.

What really got me impressed was that it does not use its own database -- it
groks the REAL config files for each program.  This, I think, eliminates the
largest problem from other similar types of systems.

Also, it's got a lot of really nifty features, such as powerful
configuration synchronization between machines, automatic restarting (by
sending appropriate signals, killing or restarting, etc) of effected
programs, detection of hand-made changes even if made while linuxconf is
running, etc, etc..  I have yet to try it myself (see below), but it looks
very cool.

I was having troubles compiling it until somebody mentioned that it doesn't
work with EGCS.  I took a look, and for some strange reason, g++ in hamm is
the EGCS g++ and not the GNU g++ (odd!).  I will give it a try with the GNU
g++ soon.

> For better or for worse, I believe Linux is on the verge of gaining
> mainstream acceptance.  Before that can happen though, something has
> to make it easier for less technically adept users to configure and
> maintain Linux (without dumbing things down, of course).  If my
> preconceptions of linuxconf are close, it could fill this need.

Yes, I think it looks good.  We still need to do a bit of work on ease of
installation; particularly for those that are not familiar with the concept
of multiple partitions.  FreeBSD has a nice "auto-fill" mode where it will
automatically create partitions of appropriate sizes using whatever space is
available on the disk.

> How tightly dependent are the modules on the rest of the linuxconf
> source?  More specifically, is it practical to have a linuxconf-dev

This is one of the issues that the speaker addressed.  Currently, modules
apparently require recompilation when a new linuxconf is released.  This
could pose a problem for Debian, however, he said that there is going to be
work on this and hopefully there will be a solution soon.

My initial idea was that each package that has config info could provide a
Linuxconf module instead of asking questions in postinst.  The problem,
though, is with binary-all packages -- being written in C++, Linuxconf
modules are all architecture-specific and thus will pose some problems in
this context.  I do not know what a good solution would be at this time.

The author will be having a session specifically on Linuxconf module
programming tomorrow, so I will see about asking some of these questions.

> type package so modules could be developed separately?  The reason I
> ask is that if linuxconf prooves worthy and was standardized on,
> wouldn't it make sense to eventually move the modules into the
> packages they actually supported to avoid version skew problems.

Yes, this could indeed pose a problem.  I assume that there are various
header files, etc. that should go into a -dev package (again, I haven't been
able to look at it closely yet).

Another opportunity is to have each program also come with a
"programname-linuxconf" package or something.  It would then be trivial to
write a script of some sort to automatically recompile just those packages
when necessary, I would hope.

I will try to compile it with the real G++ tonight and I'll hopefully have a
lot more concrete observations for y'all tomorrow.

BTW, the linuxconf website is http://www.solucorp.qc.ca/linuxconf


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