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Re: Non-interactive install proposal


	A short while ago, Ian proposed a specification for an
 "Automatic query servicing for dpkg installation scripts".

	I thought that the spec was very well thought out, and really,
 the best bet for Debian were we to put in serious work on the
 project. (Unfortunately, some of the proposals flying around recently
 are best labeled, charitably, half baked). I shall refresh the
 collective memory (which is, stereotypically, short ;-)


From: Ian Jackson <ian@chiark.greenend.org.uk>
To: debian-devel@lists.debian.org, debian-policy@lists.debian.org
Subject: Re: Proposal: Automatic query servicing for dpkg installation scripts
Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 13:35:41 +0100
Yes, we do need something like this.

Properties that it needs to have include, in no particular order:

1. Questions may need to be `independent' of any particular package.

2. Only a particular package can determine which questions need to be
asked in what order; in particular, following questions can depend on
the previous ones.  This means that we can't specify the questions in
advance in a file.  Instead, we have to put the information in
command-line arguments to the query program.

3. Questions should have a `name' that is textual (not numeric), and
is separate from the prompt string.  Given 1. the name should probably
have a hierarchical structure.  Given 2. there needs to be a way to
put arbitrary `parameters' into the `name'.

4. There should be a way to specify how `important' it is that a
question be asked, and an environment variable or something to specify
how willing we are to prompt, so that we can tune the level of

5. The interface should be suitable for changing the UI later (eg,
plain-text, fullscreen text, X or whatever).

6. The database format used to cache answers should be editable by

7. The query program should be the same as the retrieve-question
program, so that the database of previous questions acts as a cache
for the user.

8. If the query program cannot prompt but the arguments say it needs
to then it should indicate this with a nonzero exit status, which will
(hopefully) cause the script to bomb out.

9. Valid responses should be specified by regexp (preferably a
reasonably fully-featured regexp like a Perl one) not a glob.

10. Metacharacters in prompts and data should work completely


 Besides, it's good to force C programmers to use the toolbox
 occasionally.  :-) --Larry Wall in
Manoj Srivastava  <srivasta@acm.org> <http://www.datasync.com/%7Esrivasta/>
Key C7261095 fingerprint = CB D9 F4 12 68 07 E4 05  CC 2D 27 12 1D F5 E8 6E

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