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Re: PROPOSAL: automatic installation and configuration

> Amos Shapira <amos@gezernet.co.il> writes:
> > [1  <text/plain; us-ascii (7bit)>]
> > From: Massimo Dal Zotto <dz@cs.unitn.it>
> > Subject: PROPOSAL: automatic installation and configuration
> > Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 00:01:57 +0200 (MEST)
> > 
> > > Hi,
> > > 
> > > I have done a few experiments about automatic configuration of packages
> > > and have now some working code. I want to describe my ideas and how to
> > > integrate in the distribution. You can download my experimental but
> > > almost working code at:
> > > 
> > >     http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/debian/dpkggetconfig_1.0.deb
> > 
> > [ excellent explenation deleted ]
> > 
> > > Comments?
> > 
> > I like the idea and examples VERY much.  This is the right aproach,
> > IMHO - provide a program, hopefully get it inserted to the base
> > system, and let packages start using it one by one, without forcing a
> > major reorganization.
> But I hope the reorganisation is comming, especially since my
> dpkgconfig package is soon ready for more than just testing.
> With both of that its obsolete. Also the changes to packages and
> especially to dpkg are small.
> May the Source be with you.
> 			Goswin

Whichever automatic installation system we decide to introduce in Debian,
a reorganization (more or less substantial) will be absolutely mandatory.

The current configuration method is totally incompatible with an automatic
installation system, and the best installation tool we could design would be
totally useless unless *ALL* packages have been made compatible with it.

The advantage of my tool, or any similar solution, is that the changes
are very small and limited only to the installation scripts. The only
changes required are substituting code like this:

    print message
    print -n prompt; read answer


    answer=$(dpkg-getconfig PKG_VARNAME --message message --prompt prompt)

The installation script doesn't need to be aware that the value is read from
a database, it just asks a question and gets an answer. But if the answer
is asked directly to the user we can't get a chance to store or read it
in a database, so the scripts must be changed.

If this change in policy would be approved it would take a few days or weeks
to modify all the installation scripts.

If we design a general enough dpkg-getconfig/dpkg-message API we could later
replace the initial tool with a much more sophisticated one, possibly using
a totally different user interface or method for handling the configurations.

I would like that the option of an automatic installation be available as
soon as possible, at least for the beta testing of the installation tools,
which is almost impossible unless all the packages are modified.

Consider also that making the scripts compatible does't mean that they must
be installed automatically. If the user chooses the default installation
method all will proceed as before with the interactive questions.

I would really prefer to have the next freeze delayed of a few weeks rather
than having to make another totally manual mass installation.

I would like to hear the opinions of other developers on this subject.

For those of you who are interested in the code, the latest versions of my
experimental packages can be found at:


Massimo Dal Zotto

|  Massimo Dal Zotto               email: dz@cs.unitn.it               |
|  Via Marconi, 141                phone: ++39-0461534251              |
|  38057 Pergine Valsugana (TN)      www: http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/  |
|  Italy                             pgp: finger dz@tango.cs.unitn.it  |

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