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Re: graphical apt, trials and tribulations

On Thu, 2002-05-23 at 08:41, Joey Hess wrote:
> Seth Nickell wrote:
> > Depends on what you mean by "fair," *wink*. RPM doesn't ask questions,
> > which is perhaps a missing feature because you just get this glob on
> > your disk with no idea what to do next, but it also makes it feasible
> > for good graphical package managers to exist. It may have been accident
> > on their part, it may have been design decision, I don't know.
> It was a rather good design decision, but also quite limiting.

I agree with that assessment. Usability-wise the ability to configure
packages through a standardized interface at the point you install them
is, I think, a good thing. RPM side-stepped the bullet here, but I think
the debconf approach will be better in the long run. 

On the flip side its allowed the development of graphical package
managers for RedHat whereas Debian basically has no package management
tool with decent usability.

> > Right now the ability to make a graphical apt is more like a theoretical
> > feature. libapt was designed to accomodate this, but nobody has done the
> > library fixes necessary to make it work right. In my experience, any
> > time you have a theoretical but largely untested feature there's going
> > to have to be some change to make it actually work right. If you look at
> > most of the graphical installers for debian out there they have a long
> > series of horrible hacks and bad interfaces brought on by what would be
> > fairly simple changes to the library APIs (and policy or packages).
> We're well on our way toward all interacton being done by debconf. It's
> not quite yet a policy violation to not use it, but those who don't get
> requests and patches and bug reports to do so. I think that once we're
> migrated, we will throughly trounce rpm in this area.
> http://auric.debian.org/~joeyh/debconf-stats/

Great. There's still enough of them that I can't release a very
competent graphical package manager and have it JustWork(TM), though.
Maybe in a year I will, who knows *shrug*.

But right now I'm more interested in ideas people have about allowing
dpkg to be split into a libdpkg that gives feedback as it installs and a
dpkg command-line frontend (much as the split between libapt-pkg and
apt-get happens today). This is really critical to providing the user
with feedback during the install process. Right now we get nice feedback
as the packages are downloading and during setup to some extent, but
almost no feedback while the (potentially rather long) dpkg process
itself is occurring. I just say "Installing packages", but you really
should tell the user more for such a long operation.

-Seth (GNOME usability project lead)

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