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Re: debconf dilemma

>>>>> "Scott" == Scott Dier <dieman@ringworld.org> writes:

    Scott> Elements -------- A possibly common user error could be
    Scott> helped by inserting information into a debconf information
    Scott> dialog before a long list of choices or it could be

I have not yet read the rest of the replies, but this is one practise
I object to.

For instance, when configuring xserver-xfree86, I see an information
screen on the different types on keyboards that are supported. Fine.
Next page please.

At this point, I am confronted with a dialog asking me what type of
keyboard I have. Damn... should have read that last screen in more
detail. Only now, with my selected debconf front end (dialog), it is
too late.  Nor can I go back to view the information screen again. So,
I have to guess at one of the types, and remember to redo the entire X
configuration again after apt finishes installing everything else.

While I have no problems with this as an experienced user, for a
novice it could makes things rather confusing.

It seems however, that in the latest version of xserver-xfree86 this
question has been removed????? However, exactly the same problem
exists for selecting colour depth.

As far as I can tell, this problem is with the debconf front end, not
with xserver-xfree86.

    Scott> included in documentation.  However, another possibly
    Scott> common issue is allready included in that packages debconf
    Scott> template.

    Scott> The maintainer has also been asked not to add more
    Scott> "chatter" into the debconf interaction, while others ask
    Scott> for more information to beable to make decisions on
    Scott> questions such as the above.

I think this is an issue for debconf and/or front end user interfaces
for debconf.

I think it should be possible for the user interface to display *all*
information relating to a question, *if* the user needs it, eg. with a
"help" button. This is probably already possible to, just as long as
the maintainer has included the information in the correct spot.

So relating to the above case, I do not need any detailed description
for most settings like "default depth?" and "is monitor LCD?", but may
need more help *after* I see the keyboard layout question in order to
answer it.

AFAIK the only problems with this currently are:

1. some front ends display the information at the wrong time, and
require manually pressing enter to acknowledge, so you see the verbose
information (which may not even be important) before you get asked the

2. some front ends, eg. text will always display the verbose
information even if it is not required, hence forcing other messages
to scroll of the top of the screen.

3. some questions are poorly described. eg. for configuring mouse, in
the slang front end, I see a pull down list of mouse types and the
following description: "If in doubt choose the first option". Just
what is the first option? Can you even rely on the front end not to
reorder the list?

Both issues 1 and 2 are non-existant in front ends like the slang
front end. (although I have never been quite sure - how do you scroll
down the help window if it is too big? Also might be good if you could
expand the help window to fill the entire screen).

    Scott> One Possible Solution --------------------- Remove most
    Scott> informational displays from debconf that aren't relating to
    Scott> critical or grave issues.  Put other information in either
    Scott> the README.Debian or other documentation, such as the
    Scott> release notes.

Strongly disagree for a number of reasons. Remember, that
README.Debian isn't available for pre-configuration.
Brian May <bam@debian.org>

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