Full Debian install impressions and facts
(people in CC list, you're concerned by some parts of this mail, imho)
I had today a new server to be installed and got some time for doing
some tests regarding a "normal life" Debian installation. The purpose
was doing a "install everything" test and see what happens, how long
it takes, how many times the user is prompted and so on.
The machine is a Dell Poweredge 1750 (hardware SCSI U320 RAID, double
1Gb Ethernet interface, 36Gb hard disk in RAID 0)
I used the Debian Installer beta3 netinst CD.
The Debian Installer part went smoothly with all defaults. Not one
The installation was done in french (after choosing French/France in
first d-i screen).
At the tasksel step (which is the default package installation system
proposed), I have chosen ALL proposed tasks.
This triggered a 1.2GB download from the mirror I used. Huge install..:-)
And then I started being prompted...:-). As the Debian Installer step
went smoothly, debconf was set at "high" priority.
Below is a table of which packages do prompt users. I mention for each
of them how many screens/questions are shown to users and how many are
useful/useless in my opinion (useful means that there is no safe
default for the asked question or the note is really important enough
for deserving being shown...useless means...the contrary !). This is
purely personal opinion and certainly debatable.
I also noted how many of these screens are translated to french.
I mentioned which of the asked questions could use settings from
Debian Installer (mostly country/Language/keyboard related settings)
It must be noted, however, that the configure step of the noflushd
package failed. Thus, the installation of all packages was stopped and
I was then dropped to base-config main screen and debconf priority was
lowered to medium. This is #241551 (which should be a RC bug).
Thus, I couldn't *completely* count which useful/useless screens were
indeed shown. There may be a few more.
Package names are in the order they appeared to me.
Package name Useful Useless Total fr-Translated Should use d-i
console-data 0 1 1 1
exim4 2 0 2 2 2 
postgresql 1 1 1 2
tetex-bin 1 0 1 1
pcmcia-cs 2 0 2 2 
cce 0 1 1 1
chdrv 0 1 1 0
circuslinux 0 1 1 1
console-cyrillic 2 1 3 3 1
mzscheme 0 1 1 1
gdm 1 0 1 1
ipppd 3 0 3 3
isdnlog 1 2 3 3 1
isdnvboxserver 0 1 1 1
libc-client2002.. 0 2 2 0
popularity-cont.. 1 0 1 1
samba 1 0 1 1
wwwoffle 1 0 1 1
x-ttcidfont-config 0 1 1 1
xserver-xfree86 6 0 6 6 
zhcon 0 1 1 1
TOTAL 22 14 36 33 4
 exim4 is first configured when the package is installed but also
later when base-config runs its configuration again
 pcmcia-cs should in the future be dropped on systems where it is
not used during the install process
 no prompting about keyboard layout !
After this, I indeed had to validate LOTS of screens because I ran at
medium priority for debconf.
I also found the nasty wvdial configuration which DOES NOT USE
A few conclusions:
1) With debconf priority=high, we do not make too much abuse. Thus, on
standard installs, we probably won't bother users too much.
This is why, imho, we need a way to reset debconf priority to what
it was when d-i started. See #228839
This reset should occur BEFORE the package installation process
The final count is thus 36 screens to which one should add about 15
for Debian Installer itself.
2) The d-i team needs to sort out the exim4 issue with Exim4
3) A few packages could use settings from Debian Installer
4) A few packages need some cleaning in their use of debconf
5) French translation is good..:-)
6) This package list could become a good target to translation teams
A kind of 4th level added to existing 3 levels (or "stages")
terminology we use in Debian installer
Glitches and/or general overview
The system ran with default french locales after this installation
which is what is expected.
The display manager daemon is GDM....while the default desktop
environment is KDE. This is kinda strange as the first screen users
see mentions "Gnome" while they boot into KDE after entering their
The XFree keyboard was US layout while I had chosen a french layout
for the console keyboard during d-i. I think we need some closer
interaction between the console-* package settings and the xfree settings.