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Re: Debian Installation experience

On Sun, 6 Jul 1997, Brandon Mitchell wrote:

> > I installed using ftp. When deb-ftp gets packets it doesn't indicate where
> > in the process it is. No estimated time is given - no "remaining packets"
> > is given. 
> It would be a nice feature, but the debian programmers are currently busy
> overhauling the dselect program, this just has to be left as a low
> priority at the present time.  You can always look at the file size change
> as it comes in.

Good. I hope some of the functionality of dselect is put in a library so
that there can be several interfaces different from dselect (graphical,
web, curses). I prefer dselect over the redhat-stuff only because the
redhat-stuff's features are non-existent.

> > Is there any help on getting X installed at all? I'm not sure that it
> > appeared as part of the installation process. I searched around in dselect
> > and by chance found the xbase package.
> Did you look at the section headings, there are entire sections devoted to
> X, split up by recommented, optional, and extra divisions.  (See above
> note on dselect overhauling.) 

Yes, but it's confusing.

> > while undocumented, both dpkg and dpkg-ftp depends on gcc 
> >   (dpkg-ftp uses dpkg --print-architecture which uses gcc)
> > while undocumented, dpkg depends on perl 
> >   ( dselect disk installation requires perl)
> I'll have to double check this (didn't have the phone number of my isp
> handly while testing the install disk), but I think the base install has
> enough to start ppp using the pon and poff scripts and use the ftp method
> of dselect to finish the installation.  I'm guessing perl was included
> with the base disk.
> I'm not going to try to get you to use debian over red hat, just like I
> don't try to get my mom to use linux over win 95.  The fact that you are
> using linux and that she is using a computer is good enough.  Of course,
> whenever she has a problem, I just smile, blame windoze, and walk away.

Hey don't get me wrong - I wasn't talking about debian as a whole, just
that IMO - the installation isn't as good as redhat's and that it should
be possible to do something about it. I think ftp installation should be a
priority since this often is the only choice except for cd-installations
when you're behind a firewall. CD-installations, nfs-installations and
mounted installations are trivial anyway so the brains should be used
to get the ftp-installation smooth. What about using the freebsd guys
DNS-trick - ftp.no.debian.org would point to ftp.nvg.ntnu.no,
ftp.uk.debian.org would point to somewhere in the uk etc. That way the
novice would only have to know the 3166 code of his country. I think
debian has something to learn from the freebsd guys - their installation
includes some very nice stuff.

Now, talking about debian as a whole, the other point I want to make is
that debian is a bit too integrated - that is - the required base of
packages is large making a "minimum" install of debian too large for some
uses. Maybe better use of dependencies will fix this. I don't think the
package-system should require anything but libc and libdb. If you want an
interface, require curses, svgalib or xbase, but separate these interfaces
from the dpkg* command-line programs. Perl et.al. shouldn't be required
IMO, and dependencies on gcc is definitively not good. I don't even think
dpkg should require libg++, but I'll accept it :).

Is it a goal for debian not to require perl? I don't think so - and that
is one of the things I don't like with debian. It seems that debian is
infested with perlism. There are "smart" perl-scripts doing all sorts of
things. I don't want powerful interpreters on my system and definitively
not compilers - I regard them as a security risk since I want to set up my
systems so that they do not accept the introduction of new executables
(mounting noexec, nodev, read-only etc). It doesn't seem to be possible to
do that with debian yet. Not that it's possible with redhat either, but
the debian policy _should_ be to allow other types of distributions to be
made based on the debian-packages. It isn't interesting to use
debian-packages without using the package-system for example - so when the
package-system is bloated, it just isn't feasible to make a specialized
"distribution" based on debian. I had hoped that debian would stick to the
GNU policy of using one implementation language - C, and only use perl as
an "intermediate" step. 


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