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dselect - please help test before full-internet beta

(Please note crosspost, and reply only to the appropriate list.)

The dselect in dpkg 1.2.x has had several changes made to it which I
hope will make it more powerful, less likely to encourage users to use
it in ways which will seriously damage their system[1], and easier to
see what's going on and what dselect will do.

This has involved some reorganisation of internal code, though, and
it's likely that I've introduced some bugs, some of which will be
rather on the frequently-triggered side for a full-internet beta and
for the subsequent full release.

I'd therefore appreciate it if people who don't feel that dselect is
altogether a bad thing would try it out - in particular, go into the
selection screen and play with things to see if anything unusual

The rest of this message explains how your testing can be most useful:

Make sure you're running the latest released version (currently 1.2.2;
new versions will be announced on debian-changes).  You'll probably
want to reuse the `update available packages' option from the main
menu after upgrading to 1.2.1 or later, as previous versions tended to
record packages as available even if they weren't.

Make sure that you have coredumps enabled (`ulimit -c unlimited') and
that your current directory is writeable; if you get a coredump please
gzip -9 and uuencode it and mail it to me at the address above (don't
use Pine's attach file feature).  Please _don't_ ask before sending
it, unless the resulting message is larger than 5Mb.

Run dselect inside `script'.  If you get unexpected behaviour (eg,
dependency screens that you think are a mistake) then it is especially
important that you tell me *lots* about what was going on.  Ideally
I'd like to know what states the packages were in before you started
(for example, by snatching a copy of /var/lib/dpkg/status as soon as
the odd thing has happened and before dselect has had a chance to
write the updates to it).  I'll certainly want a copy of your
/var/lib/dpkg/available, and any screenshots, session transcripts,
comments about which keys you pressed, copies of /var/lib/dpkg/status
immediately before and after running dselect &c would be very welcome.

If you can reproduce a problem on demand then it would be especially
useful for you to keep copies of your /var/lib/dpkg/available and
status files for me; running dselect with the -D<file> debugging
option and sending me the (large) output would be good too (gzip -9
and uuencode it - and don't use Pine's attach file option).

If you're reporting what appears to be a problem with dependency
handling it would be helpful if you would try to fully understand what
the dependencies &c of the packages in question mean, so that you're
sure that dselect is wrong and you are right :-).  

If you would like to play around with the selection screen and then
restore your previous settings you can safely do so by taking a copy
of your /var/lib/dpkg/status before you enter dselect, go to the
package selection display and play about, quit dselect and then
restore your /var/lib/dpkg/status.  Don't restore a copy of your
/var/lib/dpkg/status which you took before an operation which actually
tried to install, configure or remove packages, though !

Alternatively you can put status and available in a directory, and
create an empty `updates' directory as a subdir there, and use
--admindir to run with non-live data.  I don't know how reliable this
is - testing is welcome :-).

Bugs reports about the display handling are also welcome, but somewhat
less so unless they're critical.  I know of three bugs that appear to
be the fault of ncurses: (a) the bottom status line isn't filled
across to the right correctly and often appears corrupted,
(b) the arrow keys don't work after using the search facility, and
(c) stretching the xterm window vertically triggers a display bug
which is fixed by shrinking the window or resizing it horizontally.

There is no need to report bugs you found to debian-bugs - simply mail
them to me here.  I won't forget about them, and if I can't deal with
them straight away I'll file the bug.

Suggestions for minor improvements to eg descriptive strings &c that
don't involve code reorganisation are also welcome, but be prepared
for me to disagree with you :-).

There will be *no* further code reorganisation in dselect/dpkg before
the release of Debian 1.1.  Even then I'll still have had plenty of
suggestions for what to do in respect of user interface improvements
&c, so please don't send any more.

If I have some free time I'll think about working on the novice mode
user interface - If I do I'll initially write this as a `branch' off
the main source code, I think, and integrate it later.  If other
people want to write different interfaces to dselect, competitors to
parts of it, or whatever, that's fine by me; if they seem clueful I'll
try to give them assistance and information.


[1] eg by hitting `-' on many packages (which means and has always
meant `remove', and used to be labelled `deselect'), and then using
Remove from the dselect main menu.

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