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Debian

Interview with Adam Di Carlo (Debian Boot) 150

Posted by michael
from the soon-to-be-accomplishable-by-normal-humans dept.
robstah writes: "The installer is the heart of any Operating System, Debian is no different. The mature but ageing boot-floppies installer will rear its head for the last time in woody. In this interview with Adam Di Carlo, one of the lead developers of this system we investigate the past, present and future of the Debian installation system ready for the upcoming release of woody: The next generation of Debian."
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Interview with Adam Di Carlo (Debian Boot)

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  • ...AFAIK, the kernel is the heart of every OS.

    --jon

  • boot floppies (Score:2, Informative)

    by rizzo420 (136707)
    i've always used them to install debian (except when i didn't have a working floppy drive) and i always choose the network install for both the base system and packages. it's so much easier than the cd. you can always get the latest packages and not have to worry about upgrading right away. the only thing i didn't like was the addition of another driver disk with one of the last releases of potato. i got over it though.
  • Although it's a necessary component, it's a stretch to call it the heart.

    What I'd like to see is more install source options... perhaps the capability to mount Windows shares via smbmount to access the CDROM.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @05:40PM (#2641914) Journal
    The Debian installer IMHO, is very elegant, smooth, and has a near perfect balance of functionality for power users and entry level users alike. Power users generally get the flexability they need, and entry level users only need to contribute a little bit more thought than say, RedHat's installer. I say, KISS, and hang onto this installer for a little while longer. The only real problem I've ever seen with Debian's installer was the dselect stage, where most users choke completely. That however, has become an option and users may now run the simple and straight foward tasksel util. If the Debian people are going to try and replace this installer, I certainly hope they keep the existing paradigms around for those of us who love Debian as it is (it's the only perfect distro in my book).

    On the other hand, what Debian really needs to do is enhance and extend the aforementions tasksel utility. Tasksel has the right idea, but it doesn't go far enough. It's not very extensive and it'd be nice to break things down into smaller groups without having to jump all the way over to dselect. For example, from tasksel, installing the TeX packages is clear, but maybe I want all the immediately necessary LaTeX components and not all the utilities that convert TeX to every other format imaginable for documents. But make this a hierarchial option that's hidden in tree form under this task. That'll give us more middle ground between tasksel and dselect.
    • by Teancom (13486) <david.gnuconsulting@com> on Saturday December 01, 2001 @06:10PM (#2641986) Homepage
      Excuse me? "...debian is the only perfect destribution"??!? I've been using debian for a few years now (1.x days) and love it to death. But *perfect*? Apart from the various bugs and glitches from packages, the fact that I have to run unstable just to have a decent desktop (kde2.2.2) is *wrong*. And don't get me started on "testing" and how b0rked up that normally is (i'm 0 for 3 in trying to get a working testing system). Talk to Ivan Moore if you want a good rant on how people shouldn't be using testing for real workstations. Getting locked into cyclical traps of "this package depends on that one, but conflicts with another with depends on yet another which conflicts with.." is too common to be ignored. I shouldn't have to use dpkg to clear up messes like that, but I do. I'm a sysad at a company that is looking to switch to linux, and all I need to convince them to go with debian is come up with an automated installer. You'll notice that in the interview, they cover that: it's slated for the release *after* woody. I.e., all we need to do is wait for a year. And don't point me to FAI. It's nice, but I don't want to have to write my own installer, which is basically what you do with it. Mandrake "records" my choices, makes a floppy, and off I go. Don't get me wrong, I use debian for my personal workstation, but we're rolling out mandrake everywhere else...

      Anyways, if debian is "perfect", as in it fits your needs with no complaint, more power to you. But for the rest of us, we appreciate the developer's hard work in trying to make a *really* good distrobution even better...
      • Testing works great for me, that's 4 working systems out of 4 I've installed it on. No problems I didn't get in some other /released/ distributions.
      • I'm a sysad at a company that is looking to switch to linux, and all I need to convince them to go with debian is come up with an automated installer. You'll notice that in the interview, they cover that: it's slated for the release *after* woody. I.e., all we need to do is wait for a year. And don't point me to FAI.

        Well, let me point you to autoinstall [debian.org] instead then. It's done by Prodigy and although I've never seen it IRL, it's supposed to be quite cool.

        Michael

      • And don't get me started on "testing" and how b0rked up that normally is (i'm 0 for 3 in trying to get a working testing system).

        You likely are doing something horribly wrong as I've had hardly any problems with testing OR unstable. Don't rely on un-official "pre-Woody ISO's" for one. Some of them ARE broken, but that's not the Debian project's fault. Start out with the latest stable (2.2r4) for a base install and then switch the package source to testing/unstable and install via FTP or your own local archive of known-good packages. (also convenient if installing identically to multiple systems, which it appears you want to do)

        Getting locked into cyclical traps of "this package depends on that one, but conflicts with another with depends on yet another which conflicts with.." is too common to be ignored. I shouldn't have to use dpkg to clear up messes like that, but I do.

        Make sure you're using dselect to help you manage the dependancies. And remember, just because there's a more updated package that has just hit the unstable tree, doesn't mean you have to use it right away. It's really not as difficult as you make it out to be.

        I'm a sysad at a company that is looking to switch to linux, and all I need to convince them to go with debian is come up with an automated installer.

        If you're the sysadmin, why do they care how dumbed up the installer is?

        ..but I don't want to have to write my own installer, which is basically what you do with it. Mandrake "records" my choices, makes a floppy, and off I go.

        No, you can do the same thing with Debian either by setting up your own archive as previously mentioned and/or by using the clone-debian script. You can also do it manually. It's not that hard. Or, if you really want to save some time installing multiple workstations, just clone the whole partition to each drive.

        Don't get me wrong, I use debian for my personal workstation, but we're rolling out mandrake everywhere else...

        It's better than nothing (or windows), but Mandrake is still a messy distro. For your own sake, reconsider that choice.
        • aptitude in testing and unstable has come far enough to make a good step forward from dselect. Now that aptitude is good enough, don't bother investing time learning to use dselect. (If you use dselect currently, try aptitude.)
    • I quite like the Debian installer as well, however it suffers from the same problem that all Linux installers seem to - it doesn't consistently get X configuration right. For a server that's not a problem, for a desktop machine it is. Support for graphics cards, monitors, input devices etc in XFree86 seems to be pretty good now, but configuring it is still a nightmare. Installers (or better X) need to automatically detect the settings required and just work.

      In fact, that's probably the biggest reason Linux isn't ready for the desktop. Once you get a system set up and configured right, it's fairly easy to use, particularly with KDE and GNOME these days, but if you can't get your system to that point then it's all for naught. Remember that not everyone has a local geek and Linux pretty much never comes preinstalled.
    • If you read the article you'll see the installer is broken in a quite fundamental way. It's very fragile, and not at all modular. For the debian install people, with the number of new platforms they are starting to support this is a major problem.

      Also, as the article states, it does not handle problems very well.

      All in all, the debian boot floppies handle installations admirally, but ther'ye past their sell by date, and the new debian-installer should make a wonderfully addition.
    • Just making it a nice GUI in Sid and later wouldn't stuff it up. They can make it just as powerful, or even more powerful than the current one.
    • Fix it! Please! (Score:2, Informative)

      by roystgnr (4015)
      I've been an assistant at a half dozen installfests: a couple where mostly Red Hat got installed, a couple with mostly Mandrake, and a couple with mostly Debian. Unless Debian's installer has improved by orders of magnitude in the last 9-10 months, it is by far the most newbie-unfriendly of the lot. Even people experienced with other distributions needed to be walked through a Debian installation process beforehand to try and prevent any unpleasant surprises.

      Debian is a wonderful distribution (even for new users, now) once you've got it running, but if you think any "entry level users" can sit down at a Debian installation and have the slightest hope of getting through it successfully, you're deluding yourself.
    • The only real problem I've ever seen with Debian's installer was the dselect stage, where most users choke completely.


      I've read discussion on debian-boot, where joeyh stated that aptitude would advance into base and replace dselect. This got reflected in aptitude's latest ChangeLog, but I don't know if it will really happen. Anyway, aptitude is a lot nicer than dselect.


      On the other hand, what Debian really needs to do is enhance and extend the aforementions tasksel utility. Tasksel has the right idea, but it doesn't go far enough.


      I'm sad to tell you that we dropped old-style tasks for woody and did a new implementation. This is not bad, but it seems tasks got tidied up quite a bit and there are fewer around now.


      Michael

      • I've read discussion on debian-boot, where joeyh stated that aptitude would advance into base and replace dselect.

        It seems /. ate my comment yesterday. Maybe something to do with this minimum-time-between-comments thingy.

        Anyway, I jumped the gun on this; the release manager decided that fiddling with base just before a release was too risky, and so this is not, as far as I can tell, happening.

        The only change necessary, though (AIUI) is to tell debootstrap to download aptitude along with the base packages. (if aptitude is installed with base, the initial configuration process will offer it as an option) If boot-floppies is buildable by mere mortals in woody (haven't tried recently), this would be fairly trivial to do. I think.

        (also, there is no chance that aptitude will entirely replace dselect any time soon; if nothing else, there are some people who like dselect)

        Daniel
    • You have got to be kidding.

      Debian has the worst installer of any operating system I have ever used.

      Even FreeBSD has a more user-friendly installer
    • As someone who's has to maintain boot-floppies for the last 2 releases (Potato and Woody) and was also involved in Slink boot-floppies, I can definately state that it is broken. The source is incredibly hard to maintain and keep in sync with the state of the archive. Its also very hard to build on or customize. The fact that most Debian redistributors decided to write their own installation system rather than work with boot-floppies should tell you something about that. Regarding tasksel, changes have been made and will continue to be made to allow the task lists to be maintained by the archive maintainers from base itself, with hints from the package maintainer. All your suggestions are good ones.
      • As someone who's has to maintain boot-floppies for the last 2 releases (Potato and Woody) and was also involved in Slink boot-floppies, I can definately state that it is broken.

        And people who don't believe him should consider the fact that "getting boot-floppies into shape" has been (if we can trust my memory) a MAJOR cause of delays in the last two releases.

        (this is not to fault Adam, who does wonderful work, but rather to emphasize that the code is just too fragile to be kept alive)

        Daniel
    • I dislike the current installer. Not because it is text-based, but because the existing text is not optimal.

      Many dialog boxes I have seen do not have a clear objective: you need to read thru the entire text of the dialog box before you understand what your options are. The dialog boxes really should have a clear question as a heading, then a paragraph explaining which option you might choose, then buttons allowing you to select an option.

      The current installer has a distinct feel that the text for each section was written by a different person. For a distribution that has the most stringent standards on most other topics (keybindings, file hierarchy, and so on), the installer should have clearer guidelines.

      (Most of my experience is with potato.)
  • by SpringRevolt (1046) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @05:45PM (#2641921)
    ..the birth canal of a distribution

    otherwise known as...

    ahem...

    ah... lets not go there...
  • by Otis_INF (130595) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @05:50PM (#2641940) Homepage
    Anyone who has tried to install Solaris 8 on Intel will cry tears of joy by seeing any Debian installer ANY time.
    • thats true.. while trying to install solaris x86, the installer crashed and decided to take my partition tables with it.. messed my computer up so bad I've never felt compelled to install solaris on x86 hardware again..
    • My only problem with the solaris 8 installer is that it's freakin' slow. But then again, I've only installed it on sparcstations and my ultra-1, so I've not tried it on a fast system.

      But then again, I once installed it on my ultra over the serial port. You don't know pain until you try that...
    • If I remember correctly, only the initial stages of the Solaris install are a heinous abomination. After that I remember a nice webview install. Would something like that work for Debian?
    • Sorry dude. I have done tens of Solaris installs both Sparc and x86. I have never had a problem doing an install. You can do gui or text based installs, choose minimum config or the whole thing, select or de-select packages as you see fit. If your in it for the technology and not the karma than Solaris is the way to go.

      On the other hand when I tried to install Debian I got stopped at can't find "/images-1.44/compact/rescue.bin" even though I was installing from a bootable cd-rom.

      eramm
  • by Euphonious Coward (189818) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @06:03PM (#2641967)
    The installer is incidental. Debian users run it once, and never again.

    What makes the difference in a distro is the set of policies and procedures that make the distro something recognizable. If those are comprehensive, enforced, and automated enough, it becomes possible to trust the distro from release to release.

    The infrastructure of the Debian distro has flowered as the "apt-get" tool and its related GUI applications (gnome-apt, aptitude, deity). Apt-get makes a Debian system far easier to maintain, and keep up to date and secure, than any other. Debian policies and package tools make it possible to use safely. Apt-get without all the infrastructure beneath would be too dangerous to trust.

    For more detail on the topic, see the Advogato posting [advogato.org].

    • I agree with you on some level, and I think most developers do too. But where the installer is critical is for new users, people trying Debian out, etc. Debian is of course for hackers and by hackers, but I think there have been serious inroads to making Debian more user-friendly. Replacing the installation system, in our opinion, will remove one of the biggest and last hurdles which prevent a lot of users from trying and loving Debian as we do.
    • The installer is incidental. Debian users run it once, and never again.

      Well, my job [freegeek.org] is to teach newbies how to build computers out of old parts and install linux on them. From my point of view, the installer could get used *a lot*.

      At home, however, I agree with you. You get it installed and then forget about the installer. But my point is, the installer will be quite important in some situations.

      • By incidental, I meant that you could replace the Debian installer with anything (including one lifted from another distro) and it would still unquestionably be Debian. Likewise, you could drop in a BSD or Hurd kernel, and it would still be Debian.

        That's not to say the installer (or the kernel) are not necessary and important. Rather, if the installer is all that at distinguishes the distribution, that's one sorry excuse for a distribution.

  • If you've ever tried downloading a Debian .iso and install off if you'll find that they intentionally do not provice .iso images to save on bandwidth. However, making 12-16 floppies with all the possible drivers on it was something I was -not- going to do.

    For my first 2.2. installation I put the drivers.tgs and the base2_2.tgz on my existing windows partition then just used the boot/root disks to do the install. This was nice; and I did something similar on two machines which were shipped to me w/ a RedHat installation on them.

    But... what do you do when you don't have an existing OS on there? After some thinking I put together my own .iso that had nothing but the boot * root floppies, base2_2.tgz, and drivers.tgz, burned it to disk and viola. All I needed now was my CD, two floppy disks and I could do a 'net install just fine. If I ever got adventurous I'd have actually made the CD bootable and put the root FS on it but quite frankly It's only once every month or so that I have to do an install so finding the floppies isn't a big deal.

    How 'bout it Debian team... a ~20MB .iso image for download, burn to disc, and have all the tools to do a 'net install off of it? Made my life pretty simple; wouldn't take more than a day to smash together I'd imagine either.

    Justin Buist
    • First of all, you only need to get 6 floppy disk images for 6 floppy disks, at most. In some cases, you can get by with only 2 floppy disks.

      Secondly, there are ton of "net install ISOs" out there that people have made, for potato, woody and even sid. Ask on #debian on OPN, or do a search on google. They're there.

      • they might be there, but they are damn hard to find even with powerful search engines such as google.. and once you do find links for them, they are either broken links, or too outdated of ISO's to even want to use for net installs..

        I don't see why the debian team doesn't just release some iso's and allow a few people to download them and mirror them for everyone..

        many people that I try to convince to use debian are put off by the lack of official, bootable install cd's.

        Once debian gets bootable install cd's and a newbie user installer, I see it taking off and becoming very popular due to the superior package management and the fact that they don't put a lot of the crap that redhat, mandrake, et al. insist on installing whether you want it or not..
    • They do have ISO, but they are fairly well hidden. To save bandwidth, they don't link to them from the front page. If you can download the ISO, you should probably just use a boot disk and do a net install instead.
      • They don't (or try not to) do ISOs as such, but the recommended way to make a Debian ISO is to download the packages to compile a "pseudo-image", then use rsync to turn that into the real ISO. They've done a convenient "pseudo-image kit" for Unixes and Windows (AFAIK, it may do more platforms) which consists of executables (probably source for the Unix version, I don't know since I used the Windows one), a readme, and pointers to where to get package mirrors, rsync mirrors and package lists from.

        Using the pseudo-image kit (even on Windows) is at least as easy as actually installing Linux (read instructions, follow instructions - I get the impression Debian is aimed at people who can read instructions, so that suits them fine).

        The resulting CD is bootable and works fine (and once you've finished with it, its bootability, built-in root FS and utilities make it a nice rescue disk).
    • Woody can download the base system off the net. On modern hardware, I've done single-floppy network installs.

      Daniel
  • Which boot? (Score:2, Funny)

    by BLAG-blast (302533)
    Hi Adam,

    Great work and all that, we really appreciate what you've done. Now, I'd really like to know which boot you put on first thing in the morning, is the right foot or the left foot? Have you ever put your boots on the wrong feet before?

    Thanks!.

    P.S.: What do you think of RedBoot [redhat.com] (It's for embedded devices)?

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @06:07PM (#2641981) Homepage Journal
    Installers that work by using a boot floppy to access a network image of the install are still one of the best ways to install systems in a large environment:

    1) You don't have to configure the machine to boot from CD, then remember to turn that back off in the BIOS when you are done.

    2) HTTP or NFS access across a 10Base-T is about equal to a 10 spin CD-ROM - across a 100Base-t its faster than all but the most top of the line DVDROM drives.

    3) Start one install, as soon as the machine boots remove floppy, insert into next machine, and repeat.

    Don't get me wrong - I like CD installs for single machine environments. But I ALWAYS have the latest copy of RedHat exported from my server in the basement - makes it a lot easier when rolling a firewall/scratch machine/whatever.
    • by danish (60748) <danish@debian.org> on Saturday December 01, 2001 @06:55PM (#2642162) Homepage
      In Debian terms, "boot-floppies" (notice the hyphen) is the name of the installer system. So the old, aging Debian installer is called boot-floppies, which is what the submitter said. He did not mean to say that floppies themselves are aging; they are still useful for the tasks you describe.

      That said, the installer can and will still work with floppies, CD-ROMs, NFS, HTTP/FTP and whatnot.

      • Unfortunately, unless you are familiar with the Debian distro and know that "boot-floppies" is more of a proper noun than a simple designation, the comment is misleading.

        Somewhat similar to saying "I finally got my woodie up" in the general public.
    • boot-floppies, not "boot floppies". It's the name of the debian installation system. CDs, network boot images, etc. are all variants on the boot-floppies system (at present).
  • Say what? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by cr@ckwhore (165454)
    The installer is the heart of any operating system? Ummm... ok. I wasn't completely sure about that kernel thing... glad you clarified it for me. Thanks.
  • Yes, go to the Gdkxft [sourceforge.net] site and download/install the 1.4 tarball. Then:

    $ LD_PRELOAD=libgdkxft.so mozilla

    Enjoy a jaggy-less web experience!

    -adnans
  • Debian Anyone? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In the latest Linux journal copy I received, Debian has been elected the less usable Linux distro. Wanna why? Well, just try to install stable on some less than 1 year old hw or unstable (woody) instead. Use their mailing list to ask for help, because the installation is all fscked up. The next thing you want to do after reading the answers you get are getting is ordering your copy of SuSe
    • Hmm, if I had paid attention to lj's reccomendations on distros, I'd be using mandrake and having headaches from removing all the user-friendly and non-admin friendly crap they put in there instead of slackware and debian. You don't know how fun it is to have to telnet into a friend's machine because he doesn't know how to remove their braindead ICS and install a proper script-based firewall.

      Never used suse, since rpm pisses me off. I've used mandrake and redhat, dunno how different thay are.

      What's up with all the emphasis on installers anyway? How often do you people reinstall your OS? Damn, I've got 5 machines running in here and haven't installed any OS in months.
    • I really feel like trolling you, but, no.

      Wanna why? Well, just try to install stable on some less than 1 year old hw or unstable (woody) instead.

      I did it on a P4, a P3 a P2 all kind of hardware, you can even make your own Boot disks to install it.

      Use their mailing list to ask for help, because the installation is all fscked up. The next thing you want to do after reading the answers you get are getting is ordering your copy of SuSe

      One thing is to have a BAD installer and other is not TO READ THE DOCS, thats a capital offence hence the answer you get.
      The bottom line is, you want an easy installer or you want to have control on what you install?
  • by talonyx (125221) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @06:35PM (#2642088)
    From my vast experience with this distro, on a high-bandwidth connection this is the easiest way to do an install.

    1. Download and write to floppy the image-1.44/compact disks (rescue, root, and driver-1).

    2. Boot with Rescue in.

    3. Follow the directions.

    DHCP makes this a blast and you're into Dselect (or tasksel if you want) within fifteen minutes at most. You end up download much less than an entire ISO in most cases, and it's better because you're always going to get the latest packages.

    If you have to do an install on multiple machines, download the entire tree for your distro onto one machine, and set it up as a server with FTP or somesuch so that APT can access that local machine as a repository. Over 100baseTX, it takes no time at all to do an install (after all, a fast hard drive over ethernet is probably faster than your cdrom drive is anyways :-D )

    There are also ReiserFS boot disks available now that will let you get up and running with a great journalling filesystem from scratch, with the selection of one simple option.

    I found the Debian installer much easier to use than Red Hat's, and much more powerful than Mandrake's.

    Give it a try! You won't go back!
  • A lot of debian users are very comfortable with debian's installer as it is. Most debian users I know, install just the basic OS, then use dselect to install the packages of their liking. Very minimal and effective. Will this option still be around for us experienced users?
  • Many users look at other distributions and see, graphical installers. Will woody have a graphical installer, if not when will we see a graphical Debian installer.
    Well, we should have that, we hope, with the release after woody.

    In other words, we'll see a graphical Debian installer around 2010 or so?

    • by psamuels (64397) on Saturday December 01, 2001 @11:39PM (#2642813) Homepage
      In other words, we'll see a graphical Debian installer around 2010 or so?

      Yeah, they do have long release cycles, but why exactly do you want a graphical installer anyway?

      I've never quite understood this point. Bringing up the GUI early in the install process adds a bunch of complexity and failure cases, and to my mind anyway, doesn't really add any functionality.

      What features of an installer do you have in mind that can be accomplished within a GUI but not with a text-based UI? And don't say "to impress people who confuse pretty with advanced" - why the **** should we care about their opinions?

      One thing might be "to fit a reasonable amount of information on one screen" - which is why I boot with "vga=1" meaning 80x50 cells, and I think this should be made the default on boot-floppies, although I understand why it isn't (it would screw over those .001% of users that don't have VGA-compatible video cards or BIOSes).

      This is like those BIOS setup screens that come with icon boxes, scroll bars and PS/2 mouse support. Does anyone find them easier to use than the venerable text-based BIOS setup screens? I don't. I find them confusing. Easy-to-use does not imply graphical, or vice versa.

      • I don't care one way or another, but there are people who will shy away from a system that has to be installed in text mode...and while you are certainly entitled to say "why the **** should we care about their opinions", and you personally don't have to care about their opinions, there are people who are trying to widen the acceptance and usage of free and open-source software, and you'll attract a lot more users with "we have a graphical installer if you want to use it" than you will with "why the **** do you want a graphical installer, I don't care about your opinion"
  • I've been at linux for the past 6 years, and I've never looked back from the day I started off with Slackware. The distribution is always stable. Even, the -current version, is mighty stable, when compared to testing/unstable. If I could get it installed as a 13 yr. old kid 6 years ago, anyone can. The installer hasn't changed over time. It still gets the job done:

    1. Partition
    2. Setup Swap
    3. Select packages
    4. Install
    5. Configure fstab/gpm/timezone/etc.

    Yes, dependencies are something that never existed in Slackware, but I never found it difficult to deal with. http://linuxmafia.org is a big help to get the binaries, in case u aren't in the mood to get on to a compilation spree, immediately, or are just in a hurry to get a package.

    The FreeBSD ports system is great, and I think i heard someone mention it for linux in an earlier /. article http://slashdot.org/developers/01/09/21/1730210.sh tml

    which can be downloaded from http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/gnu-darwin/port s-user-linux.tar.gz

    Slackware is getting better and better by the day, and I've seen very few Slackware users, that I know, who've switched to any other distribution, lately. The install follows the KISS philosophy, and its as fast as it gets, and relatively easy to the newbie, and more importantly gets the system ready, for more hacking. :)
  • The "heart"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by uid8472 (146099)

    OK, then: the heart of my new NetBSD system would be tar(1), because that's about as close as I got to an installer while setting it up.

  • ok so they are making a better installer for debian but why dont they make it easier to actoually install programs in linux. thats what I hate. I know you can just double click on a RPM on some distros and install it but they should have some type of install shield for linux that makesit easier than ever to install software. thats the number 1 reason why I dont use linux that much. I would rater stick with double clicking icons than compiling my programs that I can not get to work 90% of the time.. maby it is just me but my life is aready to busy.
    • Debian has a most excellent installer. I never have to compile my own programs any more. Most people use the command-line installer: apt-get install . As for going to a web page and clicking on a package and installing it, you actually can do this in Debian (at least with Lynx it will let you do that), but it's far better to have a large set of packages (over 7000 for i386) which are centrally organized and managed. This is what Debian has and no one else has. No messing with rpmfind.net, dodgy packages from 3rd parties, with a central place http://bugs.debian.org/ to report bugs. Ok, sure, maybe the GUI versions of the installer still need some work, but that's been moving along pretty well.
    • How is launching some InstallShield lookalike better than typing "apt-get install myprogram" and pressing enter?

      Yup... no finding and downloading packages... no worrying about dependancies... no recompiling stuff by hand... just one command on the command line, and apt does all the work for 'ya. That's why I run Debian. Furthermore, whenever a newer version of any program you have installed comes out, apt will download and update it for you.

      Frankly, if there's a means of making this model easier, I just don't see it.
  • What I'd really like to see in a new installer is the ability to actually install the thing from a serial port. I always find myself hauling around a spare monitor from box to box when rebuilding my 3 boxen. It would be quite nice to remotely control them all from my desktop with a standard terminal emulator, just like I do with the big iron at work.
    • Actually, I never thought of that until now. Now that I think of it, it would be very useful. You can get a load of dumb terminals for free, and they're quiet and small enough to fit into little spots.

      I'd imagine it wouldn't require a huge amount of work to do this. Debian being my alltime favorite, it's not a bad idea to hope... I hope ;)
  • Debian installer? I think I maybe remember that, a long time ago...it's been so long. Never really understood why such an emphasis is put on it though...with Debian you only need to see it once...not like SuSe, Mandrake, Red Hat etc...where migrating to a new version usually takes a reinstall.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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