X server setup problems on slink install
I'm pretty new to Debian, but an experienced Linux user (having used
Redhat for the past year, and Slackware back in the old days), and have
only one big complaint about the slink install process.
Now that X is split into different packages, there seems to be no good
answer to the installer questions about whether or not to set up
XF86Config. Each X server asks: "Do you want to make foo the default
server?" followed by "Do you want to set up XF86Config?" The problem
with the second question is that typically, the required X packages
(like the fonts) have NOT been installed and configured yet, nor has
XF86Setup. Therefore, it falls back to the old xf86config (which is not
very user-friendly, compared to XF86Setup), and when it asks if you want
to test the XF86Config file by starting X, the server immediately exits
because it can't find the fonts, the configuration fails, and the
XF86Config is deleted, leaving a new user confused as to how to fix
I didn't keep detailed notes of the exact errors I got on the three
machines I setup (unfortunately), but in one case, the fonts packages
had been unpacked, but because the configuration scripts hadn't been run
yet, the fonts.dir files were missing, and so the server treated the
fonts directory as broken even though all of the other files were there.
I'm not familiar with how dselect chooses which order to run the
configuration scripts, and how easy it is to change, but I strongly
recommend that the order be fixed so that all of the necessary
preconditions to run XF86Setup (having all of the libraries, fonts,
xf86setup, etc. unpacked and configured) are taken before any of the
other X server packages are configured, so that when it asks "Do you
want to set up XF86Config?" it does the Right Thing.
There's a circular dependency here, though. xf86setup depends on
xserver-vga16 or some other xserver being installed, but I'd like to see
all of the xservers configured *after* xf86setup is ready, because
xf86setup is a much nicer way of setting them up than xf86config. What
about this: remove the question "Would you like to set up XF86Config"
from all of the xserver configuration scripts, and move it to the
xf86setup configuration script. Make it so the xserver packages don't
ask any questions when configured, and let xf86setup do all the work.
Then, you just need to make sure that all of the prerequisites to use
xf86setup are installed AND configured, and all of the xservers that the
user selected are unpacked, before the xf86setup program asks to
configure XF86Config. Does this make sense?
The only problem I see with that approach is if the user doesn't want to
(or can't?) install/run xf86setup, and wants to run xf86config instead.
In that case, the installer won't ask any questions and leave the user
with no XF86Config, but they can always run it by hand, which they
should be knowledgable enough to do anyway, if they've already
specifically decided not to install xf86setup. For the less experienced
users, who are perhaps setting up X for the first time, I can definitely
say that the current procedure of asking the user in every xserver
configuration script whether they want to set that server as default,
and whether they want to configure XF86Config (which, if they answer
yes, won't work!) isn't the right way to do things.