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Using debconf in downloaders/installers

In bug #187213, Adam notes that the cltl package asks questions in
preinst rather than config.

As a maintainer of several packages which download, unpack, and test
the installation of Internet-residing software, this brings up an
interesting issue.

Installer often requires a loop of interaction with the user with
regards to downloading from the network and testing the configuration
of the downloaded software. To have such a loop of interaction, I have
done this in preinst since config should only ask questions and
postinst should not ask questions. Thus, preinst is the only
maintainer script that can have loops of question asking and
installation activities.

In my source package acl-installer, this looks like:
  until successful download:
     - ask user to locate archive on their filesystem or retry download
     - check if download successful
  until successful configuration:
     - ask user to do task to configure software, such as copy license
       file into installation directory
     - test if software successfully configured

However, this necessitates pre-depending on debconf as well as other
ancillary programs suchs as wget or bzip2. As Debian policy recommends
discussion on this mail list before using pre-depends, I solict the
opinions of others about the best way to handle this loop of questions
and installation.

       Kevin Rosenberg        |  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux **
  http://b9.com/debian.html   | : :' :      The  universal
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