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Re: How to install X-Chat in five hours (or more)

Hey guys,

I was amused to see my blog post [1] made it to this list. I figured
I'd clarify a few points which were omitted from that blog in the
interests of brevity and humour.

Mike Hommey <mh@glandium.org> wrote:
> Unfortunately, his main problem is "Having not used Debian for about
> 8 years".

Most of your new users (all of them in fact, by definition!) will
never have used Debian before. This should not stop them using your

Part of the problem I had was that I had a vague understanding that
there was something called "apt", but that I didn't know what it was
or how to do anything with it. The man page said to see apt-get's;
apt-get's man page suggested the tool was a back-end but didn't really
give any clues as to what front end to use.

> The strange thing is that he has been able to apt-get install
> aptitude, but tryed something else for xchat at first...

I did actually try using apt-get originally when I had my original
libgtk1.2 problem:

   # apt-get libgtk1.2
   E: Invalid operation libgtk1.2

I tried to understand this:

   # man apt-get
   /E: Invalid
   Pattern not found (press RETURN)

After reading the whole man page, I did try apt-get install libgtk1.2,
but then I got the whole conflict problem I mention later in my blog.
I decided to get the source and do it myself, but since I didn't know
where that would be, I switched to trying to get X-Chat, and since I
was already in source mode, it didn't even cross my mind to use
apt-get for that. (After all, apt-get had just failed me, why would it
succeed now?)

To the end user (me), apt-get is arbitrarily verbose. "Selecting
previously deselected package libbla3.2"? "Get:1 ftp://apt sid/main
libbla3.2 3.2.10-9 [827kB]"?

Look at operating systems used by less intelligent users. They just

   [#################         ] 60%      2 minutes remaining

Admittedly, this is usually followed by a crash, but the user is not
intimidated. (Having said that, personally, I quite like seeing the
verbose output, it's useful for debugging. Most users don't.)

> And another thing : it seems that the pre-installed Debian he got
> was configured with both testing/unstable in the sources.list file.
> Pinning is not the easiest thing to catch when you are (alone)
> beginner with Debian...

Matt Zimmerman <mdz@debian.org> wrote:
> It's also a really stupid trick to pull on someone for whom you are
> installing a system where they hope to get actual work done.

Yeah. Unfortunately, to support my radeon chipset I have to use the
unstable version apparently.

> (though it's equally possible that he did this himself, making random
> changes without understanding them in the hope of making things work)

Nope, I wouldn't even have known where to start with respect to using
unstable releases if it wasn't for the kind people on #mozilla. :-)

Nikolai Prokoschenko <nikolai@prokoschenko.de> wrote:
>| I used apt-get to get aptitude. I fired up aptitude.
> The writer is obviously a moron if he did this with such ease and it
> never occured to him he could've done the same for any of the other
> packages he needed.

While I wouldn't like to dispute my moronity, as I described above, I
had tried apt-get earlier with little success. I used it for aptitude
possibly because Eddy suggested I do that, or possibly because having
had a break, I was no longer locked on to the idea of getting the
source for the packages I wanted.

I think Debian's package system is remarkably nice. Unfortunately,
it's UI leaves a lot to be desired. The biggest problem is probably
the package names: "freetype", "pango", "libgtk2.0", etc, mean
absolutely nothing to me, as a user, and I really shouldn't ever have
to even see these packages.

I really think aptitude should only show end user packages with
decent, readable, localised names ("Apache Web Server", "x Chat (IRC
Client)", "Infrared Control for XMMS"). At the moment the user is
completely overwhelmed by the list of packages, which is not helped by
the fact that each one comes with a dozen or more libraries,
extensions, and so forth.

Anyway. Just a few thoughts. :-)

-- References --
[1] http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1060025253&count=1

Ian Hickson                                      )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
"meow"                                          /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
http://index.hixie.ch/                         `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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