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package and dpkg improvements to help autoinstallers

FAI has been invaluable to us at IMA, when it runs right.  The biggest
stumbling blocks we see are issues with package.{pre,post}{inst,rm}
scripts that don't understand the idea of "noninteractive"
installation.  The whole update-ispell-dictionary or apacheconfig
debacle can be avoided, but only through use of dpkg-divert.

Another thing that kills us is packages that bork sometimes leave the
system in an unconfigured state.  For example, gconf killed our
installs recently, leaving even X unconfigured as a result.  When
you're trying to install some 600+ packages noninteractively, these
things are bound to crop up.  Before any big "rollout" installation,
we must spend a few days debugging and test-installing to make sure
nothing new has popped up since the last package update.

So FAI, which couples dpkg, apt-get, and cfengine with custom scripts,
works well for what it does; it tenuously glues everything together,
making noninteractive installs possible.  

It could use some help, though.  Updating current packages to either
use debconf or allow the use of non-interactive installs would help
greatly.  Getting rid of the update-ispell-dictionary and other such
scripts would be wonderful.  I don't think I'm saying anything new

The other thing I would find useful is to have dpkg run custom local
package.{pre,post}{inst,rm} scripts.  I know it was mentioned here
before, that someone was hacking on an /etc/dpkg.d style of
implementing this.  Yes, I know it's possible to do so from a wrapper
script, but adding hooks into dpkg would be quite useful, giving your
systems administrators another powerful way to configure their

Chad Walstrom <chewie@wookimus.net>                 | a.k.a. ^chewie
http://www.wookimus.net/                            | s.k.a. gunnarr

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