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Re: X

Once upon a time Pigeon said...
> On Mon, Mar 24, 2003 at 06:37:02AM +0000, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > on Sun, Mar 23, 2003 at 05:43:42PM -0700, Glenn English (ghe@slsware.com) wrote:
> > > On Sun, 2003-03-23 at 14:54, Leo Spalteholz wrote:
> > > 
> > > > Sorry this won't help you but I've always wondered why debian does
> > > > this.  You install xdm and the defualt is to boot straight into a
> > > > graphical login.  Why??  At the very least it should ask you when
> > > > installing if you want to start up into  X.  
> Well said.

Not at all. xdm is a graphical login manager. If you want graphical
logins, you install xdm (or one of its variants). If you dont want
graphical logins, you dont install it.

The corollary to this is that if you install xdm, you get a graphical

How can you argue against this?

It would be counter-intuitive to install xdm and not have it run.

> > Debian assumes you wouldn't have installed X if you didn't want it
> > starting automatically. 
> Why? 

The post to which you are replying has been corrected, so substitute
"xdm" for "X" above.

Debian will not start X automatically if you only install X. If you
install one of the login managers, then X will automatically start.

> It's reasonable for Windoze to be installed with "BootGUI=1"
> because you can do naff-all in DOS mode. But with Linux you can do
> MORE from the command line than the GUI tools. The assumption is not
> justified. The GUI becomes something you can use when you need it (web
> browsing, gimp, etc) rather than something you have to use all the time.

Just because xdm automatically starts X when installed does not mean you
cannot use the non-graphical login. You can still choose to use X when
you need it by switching virtual terminals. Or you could just not
install xdm, and run "startx" when you want X. Or install "xdm" and use
update-rc.d to change the run levels in which it starts, and the change
the run level when you want to run X.

It's all possible. But the default should be sensible. My first
paragraph of the message says what I think is sensible. What do you
think is a sensible alternative? Not switching run levels - as you
discount below...

> > And that you'd know how to disable it from
> > doing so via update-rc.d.
> How is someone who has just installed it for the first time supposed
> to know this? Plenty of people don't. We know they don't, because
> they keep asking the list.

Then it would not be sensible to have xdm not run in all run levels.
ergo, xdm runs in all run levels when it is installed.

My understanding of other distros is that they run X only in some of the
higher run levels (4 & 5 maybe?). If debian were to do this, when a
user installed xdm, they would also have to learn about run levels; what
they are and how they work, and how to switch between them. Otherwise,
xdm would not start automatically, and the user would get frustrated
that xdm is not running, even though they have just installed it.

> > > > A friend of mine recently installed debian and whenever he rebooted
> > > > it started x and then hung his machine.  He doesn't have enough
> > > > experience to know how to circumvent this and therefore had to do a
> > > > complete reinstall.  
> Which is what would have happened to a friend of mine recently if I
> hadn't done the installation for him and known to take out xdm.

ah, it seems you beef is that the X metapackage includes xdm, not that
xdm runs automatically.

I think the solution to this is to have xdm recognise an xserver crash,
and to not make the system unusable.

> > > > I would think that especially debian would adopt a policy of having
> > > > automatic boot to X disabled by default. Every other distro will at
> > > > least ask you.
> I agree. It *should* ask. Why doesn't it?

Because it doesn't need to. You installed xdm - why would you not want
it to run? If you want something out of the ordinary, then you'll have
to take steps to ensure that. But the default should be sensible. In
this case - you install xdm and it will run.

> > Debian doesn't install X by default.  Ergo:  X doesn't start by default.
> And when it is installed, automatic boot to X is *enabled* by default.

no. Only if you install xdm.

> Technically, xdm is only installed if you request it. Practically, the
> new user struggles and swears with dselect and doesn't notice that xdm
> has been selected, or the significance of it. Nor do they realise that
> they don't need it, especially given dselect's obstinacy over
> suggests/recommends. Or they just use tasksel, and know even less
> about what's going on. Hit the Button That Makes It Work, reboot, X
> can't handle the motherboard's onboard video adapter, machine is
> useless.

Hmmm, I've been arguing a different point. I should have read the entire
message first (I though I did, but then found more as I replied).

A lot of what I have said relates to installing via apt-get, so the user
knowingly installs xdm. I will be interesting to see if you do better
than me, and read all the way to here before refuting my points above

I've left my points above because they address what you wrote with
regards to the distinction between X and xdm. 

However it now seems clear to me that you think the installation process
should not necessary automatically install xdm. Instead it should ask
the user whether they want a graphical login.

I hope I've got this right, because now I'm going to argue against that.

The default should be a graphical login if you install the graphical
sub-system. It would be the most obvious outcome from installing X.
Installing X only to use it sometimes is a more advanced usage of the
machine than operating in a purely graphical environment, in that a
novice user can typically navigate around a graphical environment more
easily than a command line environment.

A policy of "Sensible by default" (which I believe debian employs)
pretty much means you've got to install xdm when you install X.

The issue of xdm not handling xserver crashes, and making the machine
unusable should be handled by xdm, IMHO. xdm should be able to detect
the xserver abnormally terminating without doing anything and not keep
restarting it. It should also be able to detect that the xserver hung on
the last attempt to start it (before the reboot) and not try to run it
again, unless explictly told to do so.

Enough from me for now. I dont have a vested interest in this
discussion, since I just install a base system, upgrade to sid and
manually apt-get everything I want. But I've been using debian for a
while, so I typically know what I want. I can see a newbie would have
difficulties, but I find it hard to see them because its been a while
since I was a newbie.

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