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Re: PROPOSAL: automatic installation and configuration

Massimo Dal Zotto <dz@cs.unitn.it> writes:

> > Amos Shapira <amos@gezernet.co.il> writes:
> 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
> with:
>     answer=$(dpkg-getconfig PKG_VARNAME --message message --prompt prompt)

With my script that looks as follows:

dpkg-question PKG_VARNAME <level> <arch> <--type> <text> <other options>

It pretty much the same, I just have more options to regulate the
amount of questions to be asked and not just turn them on or off.

> 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 already have two such tools, one will ask plain text questions and
the other will use whiptail to popup nice dialogs.

> 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.

There are very few packages that actually ask questions during
installation, I mean first installation before selecting additional
packages like X. Changing those should not be so time consuming.

> 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:
>     http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/debian/dpkggetconfig_1.1_all.deb
>     http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/debian/net_1.2_all.deb

Can you upload the source please, since I want to adapt the net
package to my dpkg-question. You know, one allways likes ones own
interfaces best. :)

May the Source be with you.

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