Lenny installation in text mode issues.
There's a known problem with the way some debconf questions are presented during installation in text mode (newt frontend).
I'd like to discuss ways to work around this problem.
The problem is only evident in multyselect templates- iff the description exceeds a certain number of lines and short of complete page.
There are other problems with the way debconf layout text to any frontend, but not as severe as to render a question unusable.
Besides the trivial option to compress descriptions below the lower limit, there's the possibility to pad them with white space to fill the screen- this can be automated.
I think it's best done as far downstream as possible. It could be nice to manipulate DEBIAN/templates at install time iff debconf/frontend = dialog, but this doesn't seem like a good idea for two reasons (at least).
For one, the install environment is very thin and should remain so, another is, it runs on variety of hardware and may cause problems.
Looking a little upstream there's build time, here I see two opportunities:
1) Manipulate DEBIAN/templates through debian/rules somewhere between dh_installdeb and dh_builddeb.
2) Manipulate debian/templates and debian/po/*.po either through debian/rules or Makefile anywhere before dh_installdeb.
I wrote a little AWK program to do the former, it does pretty well, yet there are some points I need help with, I'll present these under considerations.
1) How much control to leave for translators?
The later method may allow more control for translators, they may run the program to see how it modifies their .po, while the former method is more transparent and may cause confusion.
2) Some .po files contain a message advising not to edit them:
"# DO NOT MODIFY IT DIRECTLY : SUCH CHANGES WILL BE LOST"
How should they be dealt with to avoid conflicts?
What is the source for these files?
3) Some Asian fonts seem wider.
This may cause mishandle of word wrapped lines count.
I'd like to know the newt screen width in characters for these.
4) Is monitor physical size of any relevance?
I assumed constant resolution for newt, is that correct?
5) How to run from debian/rules, correctly?
For testing purposes I naively used:
... dh_installdebconf -p$@ -n
debian/debian-edu-profile-udeb/DEBIAN/templats > temp
mv temp debian/debian-edu-profile-udeb/DEBIAN/templats
dh_builddeb -p$@ --filename=$(PROFILEUDEBFILENAME)
I suppose there are variables to replace for explicit locations.
6) What considerations am I overlooking?
Your opinion and experience will be appreciated.