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Re: RFC: GUI tools for common Debian admin tasks

On Wed, Sep 06, 2000 at 07:20:54PM +0200, Frederic Peters <fpeters@swing.be> 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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