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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.

Yikes.  If you have problems with PGI, please please please please file
bugs against the "pgi" package.

As a matter of fact I can only see two issues in your entire report that
could be due to PGI itself, so I will address those.

(Recall that PGI is extensible and customizable, so things like
DEBIAN_PRIORITY and DEBIAN_FRONTEND are under your control.)

> First try: installer hangs while initially installing packages from
> the net before the reboot, apparently because http.us.debian.org is
> having trouble, although it pings happily. User is presented with a
> frozen progress bar or a blank blue screen depending on whether a
> connection was ever made. Ctrl-C works to start over, although this
> isn't mentioned anywhere. So:

This description of the user interface tells me that this isn't PGI at
all in either GUI or text mode; it sounds like boot-floppies.

However, the underlying problem has little to do with the installers,
and more to do with the fact that the Debian HTTP mirrors spend a lot of
their time desynchronized.

The ultimate fix for that problem lies with the mirror operators, I
suppose.

> * A useful error message needs to be displayed if there are problems
> retreiving packages, whether this happens at the beginning before the
> package list has been retreived and the progress dialog box drawn, or
> later as in the case of a timeout retreiving a package. Ideally the
> installer would suggest mirrors in these cases.

I have been making efforts recently to improve PGI in this regard,
however at present I wouldn't say its error message is completely
useless:

        dialog = GnomeMessageBox(foldtext("""\
Installation failed because debootstrap experienced a problem.  Debootstrap
failures are often caused by out-of-sync mirrors, or because your machine needs
to use an HTTP proxy to access the Web, and there is no proxy configured, or
there is a problem contacting the proxy.  Failures can also be caused by, for
example, scratched or dirty CD-ROM discs.

You can find more information about what caused debootstrap to fail in the log
file, %s.  You may want to report this information to your installer vendor.

Press OK to cancel the installation.  If the problem is something you are able
to rectify, such as a dirty CD-ROM or specification of an HTTP proxy, you may
re-try the installation at any time.
""" % (LOGFILE,)),
                                 MESSAGE_BOX_ERROR,
                                 STOCK_BUTTON_OK)

I have some code that is supposed to change this to a YES/NO retry
dialog, but I didn't have time to test it before I needed to get the
0.9.7 release out the door.

As I said, it doesn't sound like your user was using PGI at all, but
boot-floppies instead.

-- 
G. Branden Robinson                |     Communism is just one step on the
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     long road from capitalism to
branden@debian.org                 |     capitalism.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Russian saying

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