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Re: Little things make the initial install experience painful


On Wed, Jun 19, 2002 at 03:07:25PM -0400, Sam Hartman wrote:

> As part of our project, we've been examining the user experience of
> the Debian install; we want to give incoming students a good first
> impression of Debian so they'll continue to use it.  We're using PGI
> to build our installer, but many of the concerns raised are not
> specific to PGI.

It seems that many of the issues brought up in this exercise can be
easily fixed by ensuring that debconf is not overly verbose by default.
Do you know what Geoff selected as the minimum priority of debconf
messages he wanted to see?

I've heard the criticism before that many packages seem to ask all
questions at priority high, and there seems to be some truth to this.[1]
I imagine this is in part due to the fact that the target audience for
Debian unstable who help us detect these bugs are ten times more likely
as the target audience for Debian stable to want to twiddle their
systems with debconf at 'medium' instead of 'high'. :)

I haven't looked lately to see how close this is to reality, but I think
at install-time, Debian should work something like this:

* the initial debconf priority setting should be 'medium', so that
  debconf/priority gets asked.
* debconf's "what priority do you want?" question is asked, *with the
  default option set to 'high'*.
* the install proceeds, and by default only questions of priority high
  or higher will plague the user.

Then the next step is to get people to help deflate the priorities of
the debconf questions that are out there, either by running test
installs at priority high or by combing their own templates.dat files
looking for questions that would vex the neophyte.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

[1] Samba is unfortunately in the list of ill-behaved packages for
woody, since the upload that fixed the debconf severities was two days
too late for the freeze -- but I'm also much happier to have the debconf
support we /do/ have, as opposed to the sambaconfig script that was used
in potato.

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