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Re: Little things make the initial install experience painful

Steve Langasek wrote:
> 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?

It sounds like he took the default and correct priority: medium. You can
control that at the boot prompt BTW; man base-config.

> 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 have been worried about priority inflation for a while. How about I
make debconf actually display somehow what priorities it is asking a
question at? This would at least make it obvious when
insiginificat-package uses priority critical to display the
insignificant-package/should-be-in-readme-debian note. I'm not quite
sure how to fit that into all the UIs though.

> 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'*.

This doesn't even happen anymore; debconf is now installed by
debootstrap as part of base, and so its configuration is never displayed
to the user; you just get medium. If you have set up the boot floppies
to work in "quiet" mode (via some hard to find switch which I forget),
you get priority critical instead; if you make the boot floppies enter
"verbose" mode, you get low priority.

> 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.

The priority is set programatically. Grepping for db_input [a-z]+ in
config scripts will probably get 90% of the priorities though. Someone
should make a graph with links to all the high priority questions or

see shy jo

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