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RE: Debian Installer 6.0 Beta1 release (WPA support)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christian PERRIER [mailto:bubulle@debian.org] 
> Sent: 07 November 2010 06:44
> To: debian-devel@lists.debian.org
> Subject: Re: Debian Installer 6.0 Beta1 release (WPA support)
> Quoting Thomas Goirand (zigo@debian.org):
> > I also expressed my regret to not have enough time to work 
> on it myself
> > (I'm currently trying to get this patch to work though...).
> That is definitely useful. I'd suggest however to coordinate this in
> -boot as there seem to be other people working on it.
> But I hope this is clear that, whatever achievements are made, we
> won't consider the feature for squeeze. Still, enabling it (even
> broken) just after squeeze will definitely be the first action to
> take.

I think it is a great shame that the existing patch has not been
sufficiently tested for inclusion into Squeeze. It is undeniably
embarrassing for one of the premier Linux distributions to ship without WPA
support in its installer in late 2010 - it will likely be 2012 before the
next release. I am not pointing any fingers and I take some shared
responsibility for this failure. The question is, how can we learn from this
mistake and avoid such embarrassment in future? 

I am not familiar with the d-i team's procedures, but would it be possible
to proactively "call for testers" of a patch far enough in advance that
people like me - who lurk on this list while maintaining only a single
low-scoring package - could come out of the woodwork and send you some test
results? This may well have been done only on debian-boot: I don't subscribe
to debian-boot because the volume is unmanageable and I don't install very
often. I suspect this might be quite a common situation for potential
testers - perhaps it would be helpful to mirror requests for testing on
debian-devel and/or on http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/?

Was a pre-built installer provided for testers or were they expected to roll
their own? 

In 2006 I had a long email debate with Geert Stappers and the late Frans Pop
about these issues: the difficulty of building your own installer and the
steepness of that learning curve (as well as suggestions for splitting
debian-boot into a high-volume list for most reports and a lower-volume list
for discussion of installer internals). I see from the Debian wiki that
there is more information available now than there was four years ago, but
there is still a yawning chasm between being able to download and test an
installer ISO and being able to check out the source, apply a patch and
build your own. Looking back, would it have been better to apply the patch
earlier and get more test results that way? I'm unsure on the d-i team's
criteria for adding a new patch, but perhaps these could be reviewed so that
patches like WPA are mainstreamed earlier and tested more widely? Or perhaps
the installer should have "testing" and "unstable" versions so that
not-fully-tested patches can be pre-built for people to test in "unstable"?

These are just some thoughts. I hope the d-i team will take them as
constructive and not offensive. My continued thanks to the entire team for
their ongoing efforts to keep Debian excellent.



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