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Re: PROPOSAL: automatic installation and configuration

> > My idea of automatic installation is that if I need to install many similar
> > machines I could install manually the first, remember all the answer to
> > each configuration question, then go to the other machines and just type
> > install without any more prompting. At the moment this is only a dream
> > given the terrible way the install scripts are designed and written.
> I don't think the scripts are terrible. It's just that they weren't designed
> with pool installations in mind.

This is a terrible way of doing things if you have more than 2500 packages.

> While I like to overall idea there are some problems with your proposal. This
> utility you suggested would work just fine but it has a few issues for future
> extensions. For example I dream of a Debian installation which asks the
> configure questions while downloading the packages.
> But shell/perl scripts are not that easy to parse to support that. I would
> like to suggest just giving the name of the variable to dpkg-getconfig with
> /var/config/<package> or something telling the program about the possible
> variables. dpkg-source should be enhanced to support putting another file into
> the .deb named config. 
> A new generation of dpkg or apt could support reading the information in this
> file to ask the questions premature to the installation. It will need to get
> before the data.tar.gz into the deb though.

While this would be a nice feature it requires some changes to dpkg and the
definition of a config database known by the package. There are also non
trivial problems to solve if you want to configure while downloading.

My proposal was designed to have very little impact on existing packages.
They don't need to know what is behind the getconfig API. They just need to
label each question with a symbolic id (varname) and make their questions
using the API.

In my opinion it is more important to have now a simple working tool than
a full featured tool in two years. When a better tool will be available we
could change the packages again, but in the meantime we should have something

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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