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Thoughts on installation

First of all a quick apology if it turns out the following message isn't
being posted to the correct forum.

A few weeks ago I switched from RH to debian, and was slightly dismayed at
the installation process, which I found to be less than flexible. After
wrestling with it for some six-seven hours I finally got it up and running
properly. There were two steps which caused most of the problems:
Installing lilo, and getting X installed.

I will briefly give an outline of my HD structure:
/dev/hda1	DOS
/dev/hda2	linux part. used for backup
/dev/hdb1	swap
/dev/hdb2	/
/dev/hdb3	/usr

Now, RH had always placed the boot loader on hda. Debian OTOH insisted on
placing it on hdb2. Now, if I had had floppies available (which I didn't)
things would have been easier (I ended up having to take a one hour bike
ride to get some floppies - who said computing doesn't keep you fit :)
What would have been even easier if there had been an option to edit
lilo.conf there and then in some manner. I would also like to say I think
the default lilo.conf is a mess, to put it mildly. It is badly
structured, makes the process of adding other images less than obvious and
I was thankful I had my old lilo.conf hanging about.

The second problem was installing X (an issue which I get the impression
is already being addressed). Basically the X configuration process died on
me all 4 times I tried it during install, leaving .dkpg-new files
everywhere, so the only option was to install only the base system, and
then manually install and configure X later on.

In case this comes across as a wholly negative impression I maybe should
mention the things I did like: The preselected setups, allowing for a
quick start (well, OK, so they wouldn't have worked in my case :); the
wealth of packages on the main CD (but no xv on any of the CDs, even the
non-free); and the hints about what the next step is, or what alternative
steps exist was also very useful.

While I'm at it, I might as well comment on another aspects of Debian that
IMHO could be improved: The practice of naming packages which are only
installer scripts (netscape, star-office) is confusing (OK, so the 23k
size gave it away) and I have seen quite a few people query about them.
Just adding the postfix '-installer' or somesuch would save a lot of

Also, how is one supposed to say 'dpkg' without tying ones tongue up in
a knot? ;)

Anyway, apologies for the long rambling nature of this mail, and keep up
the good work.


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