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Re: Hardware compatibility test: draft proposal

Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> Hi,
> As I mentioned in my blog[1], I kindof like the suggestion that Bdale

Yes, I find the talk very interesting.

> So, after more than twelve hours of boredom on an airplane and half a
> night of not-being-able-to-sleep-due-to-jetlag, which is certainly
> enough to think about this problem, I came up with the following things
> such a system could need:

/me too

> - It should support a notion of what I'll call 'profiles'. A 'server'
>   profile should check for different things than a 'desktop' or 'laptop'
>   profile; e.g., it's usually okay if a server doesn't have graphical
>   support or wireless drivers, while the same isn't true for a laptop.

No. I don't think we should provide profiles.
The check should be:
"complete": test all hardware that it is installed on system.
If the system doesn't have the video-card or the wifi just it doesn't
test it, but it write a notice.
Listening the available hardware is pretty trivial (see i.e. my

Additionally a component test should be furnished, for component
hardware vendor. (e.g. a network card vendor would test
only the network card, not the whole system).

> - The vendor should be able to influence the score of a test by
>   explicitly stating that particular hardware isn't available. If the
>   vendor really wants to build a laptop without wireless drivers in this
>   day and age, then it's obviously okay if no wireless drivers were
>   detected. If, however, the vendor is not insane, then the failure to
>   detect a wireless chipset should clearly influence the score.

See above.
The score should be done only "negatively", i.e. when a
hardware is found but:
- doesn't work properly
- it is buggy (as for the BIOS: linux have some work-around for
  broken BIOS, but the test should alert vendor)
- it requires manual configuration
  (partly could be a problem of Debian, but it could be also
   a problem in hardware: wrong identification strings/number)
- requires non-free stuff
- ...

> Now, with the above in mind, and after having considered Holger's
> proposal to do this with Debian Live[2], I think the following generic
> spec should cut it, but I'm open to other suggestions at this point.
> It's also not very detailed yet, but since no code has been written yet,
> that doesn't really matter at this point.
> - A base package 'debian-hct' will provide a basic infrastructure for
>   these tests to run in and an initscript that actually runs them. It
>   will also contain some tests that are useful for /any/ system, such as
>   "do we find something that looks like a harddisk controller" etc.

we really want "debian" in package name?
Should we do a more broad project?

> - Additional packages may provide tests. Packages that do so should say
>   'Provides: hardware-compatibility-test' in their control file.

and Depends it should on 'debian-hct', to have a common interface.

> - Tests are found in /etc/hw-compat-tests. This directory will have
>   subdirectories, one for each of 'hard disk controller', 'wired network
>   interfaces', 'wireless network interfaces', etc. The scripts in this
>   directory will run in asciibetical order, so that, e.g., drivers that
>   need firmware to be loaded can ensure this firmware is actually loaded
>   before allowing the generic test for this class of hardware to be ran.

I don't like to have it in /etc. IMHO it is better to have it in
/var/lib/ or ...  and copied to a root directory on the target system.

> - A Debian Live image will be provided that will install the
>   'debian-hct' package plus all packages that say 'Provides:
>   hardware-compatibility-test' plus all their dependencies. This will be
>   the hardware compatibility test that we can give to vendors.

the BIOS testing and memory testing should be included on the
basic test.

I'm not so sure that the test should be packages.
The system is too different on early boot from a Debian system.
I think it is a lot simpler to do a separate project, using
building infrastructure as d-i or debian-live.

IMHO the target CD should be very easy to create and it
should be complete. (but maybe allowing additional external
kernel and modules).

The "modular" thing should be put mainly on the testing
development side.

> - Vendors who pass this test on a particular bit of hardware are allowed
>   to advertise that fact; it might be nice to have provide them with a
>   logo that they may use for this purpose.

This should be discussed after we have comprehensive tests, and
probably to LI.  I don't want to see packages with logo of 10
distributions. Marketing people could choose to include on packages
only few distribution, which could be negative for other
distribution (and maybe for debian).


> Thoughts?
> (Back to bed now. Jet lag, gotta love it)
> [1] http://grep.be/blog/en/computer/debian/hardware_test and
>     .../hardware_test_followup
> [2] http://debian-live.alioth.debian.org/

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