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Re: Corel/Debian Linux Installer

On Mon, Aug 16, 1999 at 12:07:04PM -0400, Christopher W. Curtis wrote:

> The biggest problem with partitioning is planning.  How much space
> do I need?  How much should I allocate?  Is it enough?  Too much?
> Should I reserve 5% for root or not?  These are questions that the new
> user, and even experienced users, would most likely prefer not to deal
> with.  And yet they are continually forced to.  Why is this?  Poor
> installations.  Even the slick installs are poor.

improved documentation is the answer to this planning problem.

there really isn't any "one-size-fits-all" answer to partitioning
disks. the "correct" partitioning scheme for any machine depends on the
intended use for that machine. e.g. a workstation probably needs a huge
/home, a server probably needs a huge /var or /var/spool (e.g. mail
server needs a big /var/spool/mail, web server needs big /var/www, proxy
server needs big /var/spool/squid)

> So how do we make the debian install better?  The answer, at least to
> me, seems simple:  Do not make disk partitioning priority one.  It is
> not; don't force it as though it were.  Leave partitioning to later;
> for example, until _after_ they have chosen the software to install.

no, that doesn't work. debian needs the disk(s) to be partitioned so
that the base system can be installed before packages can be selected.

the way debian does it now is the right way. it's not perfect, and
there's certainly room for some improvement but partitioning has to be
one of the first things done by the install process. it IS important, it
IS one of the highest priorities.

another reason why this is a bad idea is that it is too limiting - it
forces you to follow the standard install procedure perfectly, with no
deviation. this is OK if you're only building one machine but would be a
complete PITA if you were building dozens or hundreds.

by contrast, the current install disks allow you to just go through
the initial stages to get the disk partitioned and the base system
installed, and then you can install the rest of the system any way
you like - follow the standard install, or do whatever you need to
mass-produce a machine.

> One there is a list of packages to be installed, the installer knows
> how much disk space will be needed.  The .deb format doesn't allow
> this, but it would also be good if information could be kept as to how
> much space these packages require in /var.  With this information, the
> debian install can say, "I see what you want to do, and I think this
> is a good disk layout for you.  Accept/Resize".

and what if the user's response is "that sucks - whoever wrote this
installer has NFI what i need on my system!!!"?

the trouble with automating stuff to this point is that it only helps
those who probably shouldn't be building their own systems anyway (and
even then they would still be better off if they were taught how to
do it properly rather than spoon-fed and "protected" from the gory
details). the price of that "simplicity" is causing grief for those who
do know what they are doing.

> /etc  -- small, 16-32MB, mounted read-write, 0% reserve

/etc has to be on the root fs.

it worries me that someone who doesn't know essential things like that is
proposing an "improvement" to the way the debian install works.


craig sanders

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