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Re: woody : X install

On Mon, 2002-10-21 at 13:54, Branden Robinson wrote:

> Just seconding this as the XFree86 package maintainer.  The current
> xserver-xfree86.config script is a nightmare of twisty code that has
> been patched to death.

Your work so far has been really great, I think!  But there is still a
lot more to be done.

> I'll be rewriting it from scratch over the coming months and trying to
> work out a strategy for letting the user select between up to three
> sources of information:
> 1) what the autodetection tools (if any) say
> 2) what the debconf database already says (if anything)
> 3) what the X server config file already says (if anything)

Speaking with my Debian Desktop hat on, I would prefer it if you took
the approach of just trying what the autodetection tools said, and only
if that fails, offer the user a choice of options.  If the autodetection
tools give incorrect information, then that's a bug in those tools we
should fix.  If the X server doesn't get enough information from the
autodetection tools, then we should fix that.

Even something as seemingly innocuous to us technical users as "video
card" is confusing to a lot of people.  Let alone stuff like "refresh
rate" and "pixel depth".  We should strive to make software Just Work
whereever possible.

Here is a very very good article about free software and user
It was originally written by a GNOME hacker, but much of it applies to
what Debian does as well.  Here is a very pertinent quote:

"Reading dozens of GNOME and Red Hat bugs per day, I find that users ask
for a preference by default. If a user is using my app FooBar and they
come to something they think is stupid - say the app deletes all their
email - it's extremely common that they'll file a bug saying "there
should be an option to disable eating all my email" instead of one
saying "your craptastic junk-heap of an app ate my email." People just
assume that FooBar was designed to eat your email, and humbly ask that
you let them turn off this feature they don't like.

Fight the temptation! Admit the truth to your users - you're a loser,
FooBar just sucks and ate their email. ;-) This feature should be fixed,
not made optional."

Likewise, if the user gets totally screwed up video after XFree86 is
installed because they have a newer video card then was in discover's
PCI database, the answer isn't to make every single user select what
kind of video card they have.  The answer is to fix discover, or at the
very least only offer a choice after we've failed to make it Just Work.

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