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Progeny Announces Graphical Installer for Debian Woody 231

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the gui-but-not-sticky dept.
jdaily writes "In light of recent negative reviews of Debian in which the installer was roundly criticized, this announcement may have particular timeliness and relevance: Progeny has made available an i386 Debian 3.0 (woody) installer image based on PGI, the Progeny Graphical Installer. This is available at Progeny's free software archive." I've installed Debian so many times that I've just learned to cope with the installer, but this is a much needed boost.
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Progeny Announces Graphical Installer for Debian Woody

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  • by pvera (250260) <pedro.vera@gmail.com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @06:47AM (#4520708) Homepage Journal
    It drives me crazy that with the incredible talent behind Debian the install process is such a pain. Installing Suse, Mandrake and RH are not harder to install than installing Windows XP or OS X. Installing freeBSD is confusing until you find a few hours after you think you mastered sysinstall a kind soul at a bsd chatroom tells you to use the ports instead.

    Installing Debian (or Gentoo) is just too damn confusing. I admire what Debian and Gentoo are aiming for, but they need to come up with a no-hassle installer.
  • by AntiFreeze (31247) <<antifreeze42> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @06:53AM (#4520738) Homepage Journal
    That's exactly how I feel. On the other hand, I know many people who want to use Debian for that same flexibility later on (apt-getting packages at a later stage) but have problems with the initial install and getting the right set of starter packages on the machine.

    I, for one, will stick with the ncurses generic Debian install, for it is what I use and like, but I will also welcome the graphical installer, for it will be quite helpful to other people and bring more people over to use Debian who were initially scared away by the hardcore install.

    In other words, I don't see this as a matter of improving the install, but simply making it more readily available to those for whom the install was previously too complicated for. This is a good thing.

    [I apologize for any incoherence in the previous statements, I'm running on no sleep... again.]

  • by Psiren (6145) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @06:54AM (#4520749)
    I fail to see why this is any better than the standard text installation. Worse, it requires a graphical display, so you then enter the fb/X11 compatability issues. Whats wrong with a text installer? You're only going to be looking at it for say, an hour at the very most, right?

    Does the graphical frontend actually offer any significant additions over the text one?
  • Re:Why now? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blackcat++ (168398) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @06:55AM (#4520752)
    The problem with the Progeny installer is that it is not available for all platforms Debian supports, and it was decided it would be easier to write one from scratch.

    Why it couldn't be used for the platform 90%+ of Debian users use (i386) I don't know.
  • Mix and match? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by twilight30 (84644) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:05AM (#4520792) Homepage
    Is there any way to just simply mix and match different disks? I'm wondering if you could install the PGI-enabled first CD, then when tasksel or whatever prompts you for additional CDs, use the other 6 in the set. I get the impression you can't, as the Progeny site talks about creating your own installer CDs (plural, not singular).
  • by vrt3 (62368) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:19AM (#4520878) Homepage
    Making the installer graphical in itself doesn't make any difference towards ease of use. Hardware detection and less technical questions do, but that can be done in a text-based installer as well, with the added bonus that you don't need X just for the install.

    I haven't had any problems with the Debian installer , but I can understand it can be daunting to a newbie. Allthough I've seen Debian installations done by people not too acquainted with Linux (but they did have experience with other OSes (sp?)).

    Anyway, I'm confident the Debian developers will come up with a decent installer by the time Sarge is promoted to stable.

  • by malus (6786) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:34AM (#4520993) Journal
    I haven't seen debian's installer since 1998, when I installed this box.

    I'm sure it hasn't changed, and I HOPE it hasn't changed, because OF that installer, I can get a debian box set up and going in less than 20 minutes.

    I believe one of debians strengths [installer] has been to, perhaps, "weed out", those who are incapable of reading HOWTO's and README's PRIOR to installation.
  • by Yuioup (452151) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:38AM (#4521024)
    Hardcore Linux guru's are respected because they can pull off anything in Linux. Well I say this: it's about time the Hardcore Debian hackers show the world what they can do and create an installer that can put distros like RedHat & Madrake to shame.

    Just my two cents,

    Yuioup

  • by mnmn (145599) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:55AM (#4521166) Homepage

    Beautiful distros like Knoppix are being released with their foundation being debian. Debian and redhat are the two most morphed distros around, but debians granularity, robustness and general goodness and quality beats up redhat in these departments exactly.

    If they would add a graphic installer, I hope the next debian wouldnt jump into an X installer by default. Theres a particular strength in the level of control and flexibility that debian has now and shouldnt be sacrificed no matter how many grandmas are waiting for it. If you dont like debian use knoppix, or morph it yourself into another prettier distro. I am using knoppix now and will always use a distro on top of debian, dselect, no matter how pretty you make it, will be uugggly.
  • by askgopal (565349) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:00AM (#4521204)
    Yes! by far the worst installer some people claim is that of OpenBSD's. But, its one of the most powerful installer I've ever used. Being a graphical installer doesn't help you much, cause 'UNIX is for programmers by programmers'. It requires some knowledge about your system before installing -- just pecking at the ENTER key would never lead to a good configuration. Never.

    I had problems with install packages while installing OpenBSD (files were in upper case--I was installing from a DOS partition), but quickly I could escape to the shell, fix path and then I continued the installation. Wow! you could never ever think of that in a GUI based installers in any version of Micro$oft Windows you care to mention.

    But, if the GUI installer allows me this kind of flexibility as in OpenBSD's installer, yay! we welcome it! :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:04AM (#4521234)
    The Debian installer is no big deal once you go through it once. It's no different than any other installer used to be. And if you can't get it to work with Mandrake or some other foo-foo installer, you still have to address the same types of questions. HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU INSTALL -- ONCE!

    Where Debian does fall down is with their hardware detection. I've been using Debian for several years now after learning with Slackware. The hardware detection process throughout the entire installation is just shitty. It's not just the installation process, but everything after that. Adding hardware or software that uses hardware (sound support, openGL) specifically is a nightmare beyond anything I've ever experience anywhere else. In just about every case I have had to resort to doing all of the hardware configuration by hand. Exceptions to this are CD-burners and my only USB device.
    But even those required a lot of back-end work to get the user-rights sorted out. I didn't even know that joe-user was not part of the audio group or that USB devices are mounted as root-only.

    I think Debian is awesome and will probably not leave it unless gentoo can get their shit together. But hardware is a nightmare. I think this is true on just about any system though.
  • by fuzz6y (240555) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:42AM (#4521517)
    Well, there's nothing wrong with pleasing to the eye. Personally, I think I'd be able to navigate through the gargantuan package list easier with a graphical tree control than with dselect's ncurses interface. But even ignoring graphics, I'd say there are several things which could be significantly improved, such as:
    • hardware autodetection. really, it very seldom causes problems, and the user can always skip it if it does.
    • Automagical creation of an appropriate initrd during the 'make system bootable' phase if mounting the root filesystem requires modules to be loaded. Last time I ran into this, I had to use knoppix to compile and install an appropriate kernel.
    • Disaster recovery. If your net connection fails when installing the packages you've chosen, your system is hosed (and don't try to fix it with dpkg --force-depends -r libc6, like I once did)

    That said, yes, debian's installer is pretty good, better than pgi I'd say, but there are always things that could be improved.
  • by Wolfier (94144) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:03AM (#4521696)
    Don't make it a default - make "ask a questin" a default - just let me choose between the text and the GUI installer right at the beginning and I'll happily abandon the text interface, thanks.

    If they accomplish the same thing so what if the GUI is slow and clumsy. A lot of people is only going to do it once. Why spend anytime learning just how to use the installer? I'd rather spend time learning something I'll do more than once.

    "Zero learning curve, abysmal usability / speed" summarizes the behavior of most GUI. If I only have to do it one time the Zero learning curve is going to make up for the usability / speed and then some.
  • Re:cross-platform? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Drakonian (518722) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @10:21AM (#4522319) Homepage
    Great idea! Let's abandon all Linux business software because Linux has a ridiculously low amount of installed base of business users.
  • by psavo (162634) <psavo@iki.fi> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:20AM (#4522883) Homepage
    What I see you argueing is that the debian installer is purposefully left hard to use because it helps to keep the less skilled from using debian.

    Well if you see that, then your vision is clearly better than mine, because I didn't say such thing. All I said that debian installer is not aimed at n00bs. It doesn't mean that it was done so on purpouse.

    Frankly, improving installer that is already fully functional and is used for approx 15min out of 3-4 years of uptime, seems a bit ridiculous to me. If you want to do it, then go ahead, this is a free world, but demanding people doing this for free, is a bit fat for me.

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