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

On Wed, 6 Aug 2003, Hamish Moffatt wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 05, 2003 at 01:33:19AM -0700, Ian Hickson wrote:
> > 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.
> Not directly, but the "SEE ALSO" list does include dselect(8) which is
> what you really should have used.

The term "dselect" means nothing to me. It isn't a usable name. That's
another example of the problem I mentioned.

Would it not be possible for debian to have a command "setup" or "install"
or something similarly named?

Note that, if for some reason the user knew about the command
"apropos", even that wouldn't help him -- none of dselect, aptitude,
and apt-get come up for "apropos install" or "apropos setup".

>> 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
>> see:
>>    [#################         ] 60%      2 minutes remaining
> I don't see how some extra verbosity hurts.

It hurts because it scares users. My dad would take one look at the
text, and give up. (And 15 years ago he was a VMS administrator, so
it's not like he's computer illiterate.) My mum wouldn't even give the
text a chance, she'd just see a wad of text with odd punctuation and
run for the hills.

> Frankly if verbosity loses us some users, too bad. I'm sure we pick
> up more users because of the same.

You will lose many more than you will gain, since there are many more
computer illiterate users than geeks.

> To rant a bit, the thing that bugs me the most about MS Windows is
> how when it breaks randomly you can't fix it because it runs on
> smoke and mirrors and doesn't give helpful information on what went
> wrong. With UNIX/Linux you get details and you can fix it.

Just to clarify, I've nothing against verbosity itself. /var/log, for
instance, is great (although "var" is a historical name that really
should be replaced by something more user friendly, but that's another
story). The problem is verbosity when things don't go wrong.

I'm all for a "tell me what is going on" feature for debugging.

Even then, though, it would be nice if the verbose messages were
consistently formatted, and used plain english instead of jargon.
Error messages like "E: Invalid operation foo" are not helpful.

>> I think Debian's package system is remarkably nice. Unfortunately,
>> it's UI leaves a lot to be desired. The biggest problem is probably
> Which UI did you use? We have a few. apt-get is not an interface for the
> Debian newbie. dselect and aptitude are GUI tools if that's what you
> need.

I used aptitude. It is not easy to use. It's fine for me, as I'm a
geek. But if I told my mum to load aptitude and install X, she
wouldn't have a clue how to do it.

I just tried using deselect, to see if it is any better.

The first option I'm faced with is:

   * 0. [A]ccess    Choose the access method to use.

I have no idea what that means. I tried using it (not logged in as
root) and I got the following message:

   dselect: requested operation requires the superuser privilege

Yet another example of an obscure error message. :-)

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

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