Re: RFC: GUI tools for common Debian admin tasks
On Wed, Sep 06, 2000 at 07:20:54PM +0200, Frederic Peters <firstname.lastname@example.org> was heard to say:
> Daniel Burrows wrote :
> > I've been thinking along these lines too, but didn't want to mention it as
> > I'm not likely to be able to help implement it. I'm thinking in terms of
> > something slightly simpler, though: just the stuff a "normal" user (whatever
> > that means) would need to set up and perform simple maintenance of a system.
> Could you list 'user tasks' ? (the 'whatever that means' doesn't help)
Part of the reason is that these aren't well defined :), but here goes. Most
of these aren't Debian-specific, so there are probably projects doing them
already; if you feel that doing your own configurators is a good idea, though.
I'm also leaving out installation issues (X could still be simpler to set up),
since those are more appropriately handled by boot-floppies.
Some of these are sysadminy-type things, but I'm really thinking of an
extremely minimal level of GUI support--what you'd need to set up a family
computer, say; for instance, the user-add/delete tool probably doesn't need
to support all sorts of fancy user-database options initially, /etc/passwd
is (IMO) fine. People who are setting up NIS, LDAP, etc, etc should be able
to handle manual configuration.
(a) set up a printer. Lots of options (resolution, dithering, etc) would be
nice, but not necessary since most people don't use them (as far as I
know (aside from printing on both sides of the paper (duplex printing)),
which even I don't know how to achieve in Linux)
(b) Add/delete users, configure user accounts. Reset user passwords,
lock users out temporarily, change user shells. Similar operations on
groups. (this could perhaps be run as a normal user to only affect the
current user's environment, and as root to edit all users) This could
pipe commands into the system utilities to avoid setuid GUI programs
(eg: "passwd", "chsh", etc)
(c) Install and configure hardware devices and modules (mainly available
already in modconf, possibly just run that)
(d) Manage fstab and partitions? (this is mainly done at install time;
people who install a new drive will need to do this, although anyone
who can correctly install a new hard drive in their computer is arguably
skilled enough to add an fstab entry)
(e) package management stuff -- probably should be left to the
(unwritten/incomplete) graphical APT frontends.
(f) Set up a PPP connection. Again, the tools are there,
but they need to be prominently displayed in some sort of
"newbie system setup" tool.
(g) See available documentation -- manpages, info pages, HTML/text/PS
documentation collected into one interface. This is (IMO) a biggie.
Currently, all the good tools I've seen require you to have a working Web
server on the system--I think the default Apache setup might work (haven't
checked it), but requiring all sorts of newbies to install a webserver
concerns me both from a resources point of view (it eats VM) as well as
from a security point of view (Apache is fairly secure, but running
unnecessary servers is generally a no-no, especially since newbies
are less likely to keep up with security updates) Gnome's help browser
is not a bad start, but it doesn't support Debian's HTML and text
documentation; perhaps it could be extended to do so.
(h) Display network configuration (IP address) as well as modifying it.
(think dynamic addresses; eg, DHCP or PPP)
I think that's it for now. Maybe more will come to me later :)
/----------------- Daniel Burrows <Daniel_Burrows@brown.edu> -----------------\
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