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A Better Installer for Debian?

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the at-least-you-never-need-to-reinstall-it dept.

Debian 301

F1re writes "Linux User mag in Germany has decided to include Debian on the mag and wants to make a more user friendly installer. They are looking for help from Debian developers. More info here Linux User"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269570)

ACs do it better. Get it in ya!

beginner friendly (2, Insightful)

Fruit (31966) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269572)

The Debian installer is already plenty user friendly, just not beginner friendly. Quite a difference if you ask me (and sometimes even opposites!)

Re:beginner friendly (2)

// (81289) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269578)

That is mostly true.

However (dons flameproof suit...), take a look at the range of hardware that SuSE and Redhat supports out of the box without difficulty - including PCMCIA etc.

I'm a committed Debian user + supporter - but there IS a need for better a installation process...

Re:beginner friendly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269695)

> However (dons flameproof suit...), take a look at
> the range of hardware that SuSE and Redhat
> supports out of the box without difficulty -
> including PCMCIA etc.

FWIW, I just installed Debian 3.0 on a laptop yesterday and it came with PCMCIA support (at least my network card was supported) right out of the box.

My feeling is that the big difference in the Debian installer is that it does much less hardware autodetection.

Beyond that though, when you start wrapping things up in pretty / fluffy graphics, you usually end up obfuscating what is really going on which makes it really difficult to resolve non-standard situations.

Re:beginner friendly (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269762)

Shut up your mouth. Or would that be malph. Nope, only a fucking idiot would spell "mouth" as "malph".

Yup, a fucking idiot.

Re:beginner friendly (3, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269581)

plenty user friendly, just not beginner friendly

Ah my friend, you're well versed in speaking the official, party approved Open Source Speak.

By artificially separating general user friendliness into arbitrary subgroups so that you can feel elite just because you can use something as horrid as emacs to edit text files is just ridiculous.

Most open source software is not user friendly with programs like emacs which is mother of all the user unfriendly software in general. It is not beginner friendly and it is not user friendly. It might be efficient when you bother wasting countless hours learning how to use it, but efficient still doesn't make it user friendly.

User friendly software is software that's friendly both to powerusers and beginners alike. From the start. Without manuals, FAQs and HOWTOs.

Re:beginner friendly (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269582)

Yeah, Debian is also Homo-friendly. All the fairys flock to it. That's why Rob Malda-Fent likes it.

Re:beginner friendly (2, Insightful)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269593)

The Debian installer is already plenty user friendly, just not beginner friendly. Quite a difference if you ask me (and sometimes even opposites!)

This may be waayyyyyy out of leftfield, but isn't someone installing something by definition a beginner?

Re:beginner friendly (1)

Rhinobird (151521) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269651)

Not unless the fragged thier filesystem to the point it would take longer to repair than just re-install.

clickety clackety wait! i meant to do that in my home directory!...ah shit was I logged in as root?!?!?! f@^#$!!!! Well that's just great...where's my install cd....(45 minutes of assorted swearing)

Re:beginner friendly (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269675)

God, dare i say it? Oh hell here goes, imagine a beo..... oh no wrong one, ahh here it is, Dont u ever back up? Back up back up back up back up. Restoring from a backup is so much easier than trying to get your system to the point where u destroyed it.

Re:beginner friendly (5, Informative)

Genom (3868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269713)

Restoring from a backup is so much easier than trying to get your system to the point where u destroyed it.

Sure, unless it's so completely inconvenient to pull a proper backup that a reinstall is more manageable. For "modern" machines, this generally isn't an issue, as most have some easy removable mass-storage available (eg: CD-R/CD-RW, etc...) - but some older machines, particularly ones like my laptop, fall into a bit of a weird area.

Sure - I suppose I could transfer a couple gigabytes out over the network to do a proper backup -- but it's quicker and easier to just pull:

# dpkg --get-selections >selections.txt that file, along with a custom kernel package (older laptops like mine need rather exotic hardware support that isn't in the default kernels) somewhere down /home (which is, of course, a seperate partition from the rest of the system ;P ).

Then, if/when I do something stupid, it's a quick reformat of all but /home, a trip through the Debian installer to install the base system, install my kernel, then:

# dpkg --set-selections <selections.txt
# apt-get -u dist-upgrade

...and I'm pretty much right back where I started. I can get the whole process done in about 1/2 hour - which is a bit shorter than backing up and restoring everyhing =)

Now, if I had a CD-R on the laptop, that would be a different story. Sure, I could get an external one - but that money (IMHO) would be better spent on a better laptop a few years down the road.

Re:beginner friendly (0, Flamebait)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269761)

U have debian on a LAPTOP?!?!?!?! Do u like whips and chains as well? :)

Re:beginner friendly (1)

stuphi (570591) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269658)

Possibly, and by taking the time to read the prompts in the Debian installer, they will learn something of how there system works.

Re:beginner friendly (2)

Bryan Andersen (16514) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269673)

The Debian installer is already plenty user friendly, just not beginner friendly. Quite a difference if you ask me (and sometimes even opposites!)

This may be waayyyyyy out of leftfield, but isn't someone installing something by definition a beginner?

Not always. I'd been using and administering UNIX for a decade before I first installed Slackware Linux. A few years latter when I changed to Debian I sure wasn't a beginner Linux or UNIX.

Now I will agree that Debian needs a more user friendly installation process. I for one would like to see a better breakdown of the packages into the functionality they provide. I haven't figured out the best way to do it, but it could be provided without much change to the current dselect system. It would mainly take a different classification hierarchy. Alot more fine grained than they have right now. I'd like to be able to go find a listing of "terminal programs" and select from that list, then go on to "browsers", etc.. I don't know of any Linux of *BSD distribution that provides that level of selection yet. Integrating sugestions as to complimentary packages would also be nice. That part would likely take a bit more work than just reclassification.

Re:beginner friendly (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269677)

to see a better breakdown of the packages into the functionality they provide.

Dselect :) not that i ever use it cause its soooo user unfriendly....... which brings me to another point...........

Re:beginner friendly (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269700)

  • This may be waayyyyyy out of leftfield, but isn't someone installing something by definition a beginner?

You're right, every time I was installing Debian in the last few years (over 100 different boxes) I was a beginner and I was complaining that Debian installer is not newbie-friendly. And then I found out that I'm a stupid moron and that was the problem with Debian newbie-friendlyness!

Re:beginner friendly (3, Informative)

jilles (20976) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269744)

What it does it does in a userfriendly way. The problem is that once it has done its thing you need to do a lot yourself to get a somewhat useable box. I think it sucks that it doesn't recognize any hardware. I actually had to remove the cover from a box once to find out what kind of NIC it had. The same applies to the videocard and monitor I have. All of it is pnp meaning that the installer shouldn't waste my time by requiring me to provide information it already has readily available.

I couldn't care less whether the installer is text based or graphical. What I do care about is that the installer saves me time. If I pop in a windows XP cd in a (compatible) PC I don't have to do anything. It just installs itself, recognizes all hardware and you end up with a useable box. With debian I have to do everything (including the tedious stupid stuff) manually. If you are lucky and select the right modules and all you end up with a login box to an outdated wm/xfree combination on an outdated kernel.

Being able to bypass hw detection is a desirable feature on debian (or any OS in fact). Not having hardware detection is bloody annoying and very user unfriendly.

Feeding the Slashdot the Beast (-1, Offtopic)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269573)

i can't find a way out. i'm trapped in a desolate nothing. the pain fills my body and mind.

i'm left alone, alone with this beast with a keyboard and screen, this thing that's eating me alive.

i don't do anything, save for feed the beast. everyday, sending it line after line of endless posts, never quite reaching the end. the beast can be satisfied, even with my soul.

i served the beast even when i was able to do other things, coming back to it day after day, providing it's supper. and now i'm trapped, unable to do anything else, my body failing me, not allowing me to escape for any amount of time.

escape the beast while you still can, before it wisks you off to hell, like me.

The poor geeks (5, Funny)

Jouster (144775) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269575)

First Windows removes its real-mode command line, now Debian loses its undecipherable installation syntax? What will all the esoteric-knowledge gurus do?


Re:The poor geeks (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269583)

openbsd of course

Re:The poor geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269616)

fucking terrorist sympathizer

Re:The poor geeks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269683)

It is the Will of Allah that all cyber-terrorists use exclusively OpenBSD. The Jihad will wipe your infidel Windows operating system off the face of the Earth!

Re:The poor geeks (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269681)

Oh, come on! OpenBSD is not *that* hard to install. Pop in CD and follow instructions. Boot, voila...Systems runs. Go on the internet with another box, read Packet Filterin Howto's and PPPoE howto's change config files, restart services and you're done. Instant firewall: it only took me one afternoon.

Compare this to a Windows 2000 install for example: pop in CD, install, go on the internet with another machine to hunt down graphics/sound/modem drivers (or if your WinModem is supported, even with that box). Install drivers, reboot, make registry hacks (so that the system is customized for my use). Now install the apps you need. Setting up a Windows 2000 systems takes an afternoon too.

Both setups you keep tweaking around for a couple of weeks. Seem both are similar in setup-time and setup-complexity.

Re:The poor geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269736)

Thats fine if you are running just a firewall try using openbsd on the desktop.

Re:The poor geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269773)

that's an unfair comparison of israel palestine deaths. like 3/4 palestine deaths are from suicide bombers who suck so bad they can only blow up one person, themselves. they end up mildly injuring those around them, and the only one dead is the idiot holding the bomb. i bet the casualty count is more reasonable if you don't count them. you should make a jews/nazi comparison too, that would be great.

Theres always Slackware (0)

boltar (263391) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269598)

Still using the same install system it had 7 years ago! (And its quite good too as long as
you don't freak out if you can't use a mouse)

Re:The poor geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269614)

+1 insightful?
+1 funny might be appropiate, but I mean, I really hope the moderators aren't really taking that statement seriously...

Yay we could post AC again ;-)

DrakX? (2, Interesting)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269585)

Mandrake's installer is GPL. It shouldn't be too exceptionally difficult to port it to Debian...

Re:DrakX? (0)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269588)

I guess you're right.

Why bother though when a new version of Debian seems to come out every five years. Like most stuff on the current stable Debian distro (XFree 3.x for christsake!?!), DrakX would be out of date by then.

Re:DrakX? (2, Informative)

staili (200478) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269596)

> Mandrake's installer is GPL. It shouldn't be too exceptionally difficult to port it to Debian...

There's some fundamental problems, biggest would be rpm/deb problem, it wouldn't be impossible, but it would be still hard.

Re:DrakX? (1)

fabiolrs (536338) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269699)

Not to mention DrakX is great!! Im not a big fan of Mandrake but DrakX is awesome!

Are you good enough to use debian? (0, Insightful)

staili (200478) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269589)

I was able to install Debian after only few months of Mandrake, and damn I was glad when I had my linux-box fully configured and running. (After a week of configuring with vim.)
The installer isn't 'hard' it's rather "are you good enough to use debian?".
Userfriendly installer doesn't fit with debian's style. :)

Re:Are you good enough to use debian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269676)

When I started on Linux there was only one way to install. Insert the boot floppy and push "reset". Insert the root floppy when prompted. When you got to the shell prompt, use pfdisk to partition your hard drive (if you needed to create a partition). Then use mkfs on the partition to create a file system.

Mount the new file system and copy all the files over to the hard drive from the floppy. Then edit byte at offset 509 of the boot floppy to reflect the major number of your root device. Edit the byte at offset 508 of the boot floppy to reflect the minor number of your root device. If you were slick you had a copy of "rdev" to help with the job, if not, use a hex editor. Maybe edit your fstab too (I don't think Linux even used an fstab in early versions). Now you're done. Your boot floppy is ready to boot from the hard disk.

This method still works by the way. Make a copy of bzImage. Edit bytes at offset 508 and 509. Use "dd" to write it to a floppy. Now you have a boot disk. It will look for root file system where bytes at offset 508 and 509 tell it to look.

Re:Are you good enough to use debian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269698)

Yeah, Debian was my first foray into Linux. A bunch of floppy disks, a 386 laptop, and a modem. Jeez, I didn't even know what a module was... Made me learn fast tho.

Re:Are you good enough to use debian? (1)

morgajel (568462) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269714)

I'm actually wondering how they plan on making it more user friendly. I hope they stay away from graphical installers- or if they do use one, offer the text mode as well.(I have slow machines)

small changes could be made as well, I'll give them that. I tried debian after dinking around with redhat, slackware, and mandrake... couldn't deal with the installer, so I went back to redhat... then I tried sorcerer...
After a week of irritation, I tried debian again and it slid right in. after experiencing the joy and wonder of apt, I quickly changes all of my boxen over from redhat, but I still had that faint memory of it being a difficult installer- even though I don't remember why.

I also like that they offer a CD in their mag- pretty soon linux distro's will be as plentiful as those stupid AOL disks.

Speak to Progeny...... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269590)

Progeny had a good one, I use it and then apt-get dist upgrade to woody

There is one - PGI (5, Interesting)

trh (20778) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269592)

Progeny Debian Linux was a GREAT distribution, when it existed. It had great hardware detection, a very simple installer and some other features. Some of the best parts of it are now available.

You can use Progeny Graphical Installer (PGI) to install a nice Woody release, or download the package and create your OWN customized installer with it. This thing is GREAT. Check it out - they are pushing hard towards the 1.0 release.

It is very nice, and has a text-mode and X-based installer (you can even do the X install remotely on another machine). This thing is great, and I use it for all of my installs right now. Thanks, Branden Robinson and team for keeping this great part of Progeny Debian Linux alive...

Re:There is one - PGI (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269702)

I agree... I still run Progeny as my main server.
Wanted to run Debian but wasn't knowledgable enough at the time, and Progeny did the trick. Nicest looking website by far, BTW.

To bad they had to go...

Re:There is one - PGI (2, Informative)

trh (20778) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269735)

More information on it is available in this informative E-mail from Branden: an -testing-200202/msg00161.html

YES! (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269819)

Finally someone who doesn't want to re-invent the wheel! For all the inherent benefits to Open Source and code reuse, the amount of code-duplication (and therefore time and effort wasted) in the Open Source world amazes (and disappoints) me.

And no I am not talking about Gnome vs. KDE. I am talking about things like having 10 different ICQ clients, all with different implimentations of the protocol. Sure, a different GUI and different features is worth making a new program for. But why not borrow the code for the network stack from someone else who already has that part tackled? Same with filters for MS Office. What is the big deal about KOffice, Abiword, and OpenOffice coming together and making some nice libs that translate .DOC into an XML format they can all interchange?

Simmilar things can be said about other softwares as well. Let's work together people! No need to re-invent the wheel!

No No No! (4, Interesting)

Tryfen (216209) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269594)

I think that the basic point is being missed.

From the article
Right now what we'd be most interested in is some feedback by Debian developers and users out there

The golden rule in HCI is "Developers are not target users". Sad as it may seem for some people Linux Developers are no longer the same people as Linux Users. This means that, by and large, interface designers should IGNORE THE DEVELOPERS!

Users are the ones that matter here. As a first time Linux installer I don't really care about most of the things a developer cares about.
I haven't installed Debian, but let me compare my last Linux install (Mandrake 8.something) to WinXP...

All WinXP asked me was, essentially, "What is your Country and TimeZone".
Mandrake wanted to know the intimate details of my network card, how much swap space I wanted, what make of scroll-mouse I had, what sound card I had, what video cards I had (and don't get me started on XFree's Multimon support!). All this does is serve to scare and confuse a Linux Virgin. And if you want Linux on the desktop you can either make the world smarter, or make your products smarter.

Debian should not be soliciting people in the know - they know far more than the average first time user and are, consequently, useless for developing interfaces for newbies.

Sorry for the rant/misspellling/smell.


Re:No No No! (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269607)

While the points you make a valid I don't think that's what they ment. I think they wanted to get in touch with developers who knows the Debian install process. I.e., the people who will make the installer.

Shouldn't be too hard... (5, Interesting)

Bozar (458678) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269618)

I recently switched from Redhat to Debian linux. I used the network install (because i have a fast connection) and i found that the most obscure part of the install was finding which NIC model i had (because they went by manufacturer code instead of human-readable names) If a prepackaged installer simply had something that detected your NIC automatically, with some simple instructions to read along with each install stage (easy ones found at, then it would be a much less painful install. As a seperate note, something must be added to automatically configure USB optical mice, because as it is they are not (a huge pain for a user with limited skills).

dselect is already a good tool for choosing packages to install and seeing what is out there to install. Its interface could be improved somewhat (always going past help screens becomes a pain, and collapsable trees should be in to reduce clutter(and if they are already, why aren't they obvious))

This should put user-friendliness in, while maintaining most of the customization available in the regular install (after all, you could always ignore the advice...)

Re:Shouldn't be too hard... (4, Insightful)

Peter Harris (98662) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269640)

dselect is an HCI abomination, even for those who know how to use it.

#apt-get install aptitude

Aaahhh. *That's* better....

Re:Shouldn't be too hard... (4, Informative)

dlbornke (68572) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269741)

There is neither a need to use dselect nor to use aptitude - EVER. All you need are the apt-tools. If you look for a program:

# apt-cache search <search term>

lists you all available packages that fit somehow the search term (search term can be the program name, parts of that name, a description ...)

If you want more info on a package:

# apt-cache show <package name>

after that, you only need to install the usual way:

# apt-get install <package name>

I have the aliases 'i' (for 'apt-get install'), 's' (for 'apt-cache search') and 'si' (for 'apt-cache show'), which make work much easier.

Re:Shouldn't be too hard... (1)

Peter Harris (98662) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269779)

Thanks. I haven't looked at apt-cache before.

I think I'll still prefer aptitude (current version 0.2.10-1) when I'm not feeling in a command-line mood.

Re:Shouldn't be too hard... (2)

klieber (124032) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269793)

Um...correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't apt only handle required dependencies whereas dselect will also pick up recommended and suggested?

I thought that was one of the main reasons to use dselect over apt.

Note that I've used apt almost exclusively and have never used dselect except during the original install, so obviously using apt alone works just fine.


Re:Shouldn't be too hard... (1)

slipgun (316092) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269663)

always going past help screens becomes a pain

Simply add alias dselect='dselect --expert' to your ~/.bashrc file. But I agree, the dselect interface could do with a major overhaul, although the program itself is more or less faultless.

Re:No No No! (2)

larien (5608) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269626)

All WinXP asked me was, essentially, "What is your Country and TimeZone".
Yes, and it still had to be told 4 times. Put in language, keyboard layout, location and timezone. Individually. And it forgets each time. If I'm in Scotland, doesn't it make sense to be in GMT/BST timezone? No! The default is still PST (or EST, I forget). What it should do is ask for location and present a set of defaults for that location; i.e. for the UK, default is English(British), keyboard layout is UK and timezone is GMT/BST.

This gets particularly annoying when the VIA USB drivers keep screwing up the registry when doing large transfers (e.g. PDA syncing, copying data to CF cards) requiring a reinstall every 5 minutes.

Re:No No No! (1)

Balp (7960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269643)

> This means that, by and large, interface designers should IGNORE THE DEVELOPERS!

The developers are HOPEFULLY users them too, I think that developing for them self is one of the most important details in the so called open source community. If it wasn't for that there wouldn't have been any Linux, *BSD, Emacs, Vim, etc. In that case we would only have Solarism AIX, Windows.

> All WinXP asked me was, essentially, "What is your Country and TimeZone".

You must have been lucky, or rather unlucky. It asks aloot more questuions, yeterday my father called me in panic as he tried to get XP installed. (It basicly needsthe same infomation as any Linux installation)

Where you are in the world, (timezone, locales etc.) SOme basics of how to format the hard disk (use entire disk for OpenBSD Yes/[No]) and the basic network information. (IP/DHCP...)

Re:No No No! (1)

Kakemann (57359) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269669)

I installed Mandrake the other night (8.2) and had no such problems. It did, however, ask me whether I had a SCSI adapter or not. Even a Windows installer will occansionally ask you such questions.

Are you sure you didn't select the "Expert install"? If so, why are you surprised when the installer keeps asking you "expert" questions?


Re:No No No! (2)

mir (106753) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269690)

Mandrake lets you _change_ the default values for all of these, but by default it does a very good job of detecting the network card(s), video card and all . Accepting all default options gives you a working system. Of course it is a pain to decide the level of security you want for your system (this being /. I am sure we all know why Windows doesn't let you choose ;--) and to click through the long list of extra apps that come with the system to check which ones you want to install, much better go out and buy them and install them from CD's one by one ;--)

BTW, I have tried several times to install a wireless card on Windows machines and never, ever succeeded. Mandrake figured it out flawlessly. Go figure!

Re:No No No! (2)

mccalli (323026) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269721)

All WinXP asked me was, essentially, "What is your Country and TimeZone".

Asked me the same thing. I told it the country (UK), yet it still decided to default me to Pacific Time. Shouldn't the default be GMT?

And, after it knew which country I was in, it then decided to give me a US keyboard by default. Even when I changed it, it decided that I didn't -really- mean it, and kept the US keyboard and US locale as the default System-wide preferences. You have more dialogs to go through to get that sorted out, and it's not at all obvious that you even need to get it sorted out.

It also asked me half way through, after it had formatted my drive and copied various things and then rebooted. I couldn't just answer questions at the beginning, then leave it alone for God knows how long to finish the install.

You happen to have hit a real bugbear in all the Windows installations I've ever used there...


Re:No No No! (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269722)

Users are the ones that matter here. As a first time Linux installer I don't really care about most of the things a developer cares about.

I am a User and am happy with that. You are talking about the clueless user. If you don't have an idea what a network card is, and you don't have the patience to find out if your disk is SCSI or whatever you simply are bound to have problems even with your windows box.

I haven't installed Debian, but let me compare my last Linux install (Mandrake 8.something) to WinXP...

First of all, I don't give a shit if WindexPee is happy with asking you for the wheather - we are talking about debian here, remember?

But anyways:

All WinXP asked me was, essentially, "What is your Country and TimeZone".

What you forgot to mention was that WinXP asked you also to agree with the fact that Micro$oft has the right to modify your system at whatever point in time it sees fit and in whatever ways they find apropriate and that this might restrict your abilities to browse media. Oh - you did not read the EULA? Great! Congrats!

Debian should not be soliciting people in the know - they know far more than the average first time user and are, consequently, useless for developing interfaces for newbies.

(Besides that it is not debian asking for anything, but Linux User Germany) Do you propose newbies writing user interfaces? I will not use that, and newbies won't either, because it will be so incredibly crappy.

And hey, install yourself your WindexPee where the sun won't shine, okey?


Re:No No No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269783)

I am a User and am happy with that.

I didn't just hear that.

Re:No No No! (2)

forgoil (104808) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269747)

You must be speaking about some kind of asexual longbearded hacker type of developer (you know who), but I don't think this view of developers hold true anymore. I for example (there are plenty others) am both a developer and an end user. I hate having to answer stupid questions (as if I care about installing drivers, do it for me, I love XP for this, works like a charm), yet I can easily be described as a computer geek.

What it all boils down to is that don't ask someone who has no idea of what the users might need. What the person might be should be irrelevant. It's like saying "don't ask males, females uses computers less, and we should ask them!", or to design a car for someone who hasn't sat in one before (The Dodge Viper wouldn't exist then).

Yes, I'm answering a rant with a new rant, but there has to be a stop to this "developers are nutcases" and "users are morons" missconceptions. As long as you don't completely lack common sense you can do this. And if you want help, there are tons of litrature out there, or you can read Microsoft's (gasp!) stuff about user interfaces on msdn. I think that KDE has a bunch of nice stuff on their pages too.

Re:No No No! (1)

siemce (544739) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269769)

well, this is correct, but ... how many people actually install windows anyways? Most of them buy preinstalled computers at Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.
The most they do is an upgrade. Take look around, how many people are still running win 95?
It isn't all about the install process; if you tell the average user to reinstall his box it's like telling them to kill someone, they rather take it to the place they bought it from and have them do the job.
Debian installer is actually very good. First of all, it works on 99.9% (0.1% being my rs6000 :))of computers without tweeking or giving it boot options, and I had many problems with other distributions installers on the same boxes. Also, it gives you a choice to go to simple mode, which let you specify what the box is used for and the packages are installed.
Sure it would be easier for Debian beginers if the installer was scanning the hardware and loading modules for them ... well, if you think that would be a good thing join the Debian's deveopement team
One last thing, Linux has enough installers, and way too many distributions, maybe something should be changed in this area. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to some level, but that's the reason why many companies don't take Linux seriously. I've been working with several software companies to try to get them to port their software to Linux (they have Unix versions of their software) the most common excuse is that Linux is not consistant, too many distros, too many directions.

Re:No No No! (1)

CapnKirk (201123) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269789)

There is a fact that everyone seems to be overlooking: most systems are shipped with the OS pre-installed. Any OS install is technical--by definition! Ya gotta know your hardware!

No matter how "easy" installers become (and I'm a Debian enthusaist), the first step of installation is researching the motherboard, video and network cards, and an idea of how the box is going to be used (workstation, server, laptop, etc.).

I'm getting ready to install a dual-boot Win2k/Debian on my new Dell Latitude C400 laptop (yumm: 1GB RAM, 40GB disk, all in a 1.5in thick, 3.5lb package). It's taken me about two weeks to do the research and I'm glad I did: there are issues with the Intel video chipset and X-Windows. It saved me some frustration.

But no way can the newbie or Joe Sixpack be expected to do this. Linux installation is always going to require some technical savvy, like any OS.

8. (-1)

GafTheHorseInTears (565684) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269605)

It is necessary to say just whom we regard as our antagonists: theologians and all who have any theological blood in their veins--this is our whole philosophy. . . . One must have faced that menace at close hand, better still, one must have had experience of it directly and almost succumbed to it, to realize that it is not to be taken lightly (--the alleged free-thinking of our naturalists and physiologists seems to me to be a joke--they have no passion about such things; they have not suffered--). This poisoning goes a great deal further than most people think: I find the arrogant habit of the theologian among all who regard themselves as "idealists"--among all who, by virtue of a higher point of departure, claim a right to rise above reality, and to look upon it with suspicion. . . The idealist, like the ecclesiastic, carries all sorts of lofty concepts in his hand (--and not only in his hand!); he launches them with benevolent contempt against "understanding," "the senses," "honor," "good living," "science"; he sees such things as beneath him, as pernicious and seductive forces, on which "the soul" soars as a pure thing-in-itself--as if humility, chastity, poverty, in a word, holiness, had not already done much more damage to life than all imaginable horrors and vices. . . The pure soul is a pure lie. . . So long as the priest, that professional denier, calumniator and poisoner of life, is accepted as a higher variety of man, there can be no answer to the question, What is truth? Truth has already been stood on its head when the obvious attorney of mere emptiness is mistaken for its representative.

cool (3, Insightful)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269608)

This will give Debian quite a lot of publicity. Maybe enough for it to take off, at least in Germany ;-)

Personally I really wonder why people still use RPM based distributions, is it just because of the installer or the publicity? I mean, *everybody* who's heard of Linux must have heard of Redhat, but no beginner would have heard of Debian. Yeah like this "I'm using Linux 7.2, what are YOU using?"

Seriously I don't see anything potentially bad about making a user friendly installer, the one Debian uses now really could be improved. It's nice that they asked the Debian guys about it though. I wonder if it will get back to the main distribution of Debian if the installer is really as good as it sounds?

Re:cool (2)

Advocadus Diaboli (323784) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269655)

Maybe enough for it to take off, at least in Germany

Debian is very well known in Germany (were I live). Of course many people use SUSE as well, just because SUSE is available in every bookshop while you have to ask for Debian.

I'm using SUSE for several years now and soon I'm going to switch to Debian for a simple reason: I'm sick of SUSE's "we are the first to have XYZ" policy. I don't appreciate to have software that is just in beta status in a distribution.

So I retrieved my set of Potato CDs and now I'm playing around with Debian in my laboratory environment (lots of PCs to try things out). So far I'm fine with Debian as well, even when there is something different from SUSE:

  • SUSE installs and per default you have many things running. That means you have to disable services that you don't want (and maybe you don't even know)
  • Debian installs with a minimum of running services. That means that I have to configure additional services and there is nothing running that I didn't want to run

A small difference, but from my point of view an important one.

Coming to the installation process. I don't think that Debian is more difficult to install than SUSE. Ok, the text based installer requires you to read instead of clicking around, but after all I succeeded in installing Debian without any problem that I couldn't solve.

And one final point: Debian installs also on systems with small memory while SUSE for example requires at least 64 MB for installation. And in some cases that's even too much...

Re:cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269798)

I would like to see a resurgence of National Socialism in Germany. You Germans must get a grip. Forget the propoganda about the past and cleanse your country of foreigners. Someday you will wake up and there will be no more Germans in Germany. It will be a third-world shithole packed with Turkish, African, and Arab rodents. The time is now to expel all non-white foreigners from Germany. The very future of Germany, and your own childrens' future is at stake.

Re:cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269778)

RPMs are very powerful, yet simple to use. You don't need to know much to use an RPM. But if you want more sophisticated control, it is there, under the skin. RPM is truly awesome, and very underrated. The real power of RPM is how it helps with configuration management. Its database is very powerful and you can do all kinds of querys to determine the state of your system. It is a pretty good friend to the developer, administrator, and end user alike.

Misunderstanding (5, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269620)

I'm sorry, but when did "I can click on it" equate user-friendlyness?

Debian's current default installer consists of a group of sub-menus with descriptive explainations of what task each menu item would perform.

If this is an arguement of asthetic or practicality, then it should be thrown out. The only way this arguement for a better Debian installer could possibly hold water is if we're talking about the detection of hardware, which is marginally frustrating (I had no problems the first time I installed debian).

Re:Misunderstanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269629)

I use Debian and have for a good long time, but I tell you that debian's installer is, without a doubt, the most customizable and, therefore, the hardest to use.

I mean, shit, even Slackware is easier to install!

Re:Misunderstanding (2)

PigleT (28894) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269648)

Pretty much agree. The odd bug-fix, and hardware detection (but then again, if you don't KNOW what's in your box, why are you installing on it?), oh and maybe avoid dselect like the plague...

Took me under a day to get a reasonable Unstable tracking system up and running from fresh on the new orkstation. As with anything, try it twice and then tell me what the pick-up curve was, don't say "oh it's not the windoze installer, what do I do?!!" and wail and whine.

Re:Misunderstanding (3, Insightful)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269727)

if you don't KNOW what's in your box, why are you installing on it?
Perhaps two scenarios:
  1. You are installing on a number of different boxes, and the labour involved in finding out exactly what is in each box is multiplied, especially if you make a mistake.
  2. You know the manufacturer of a device, but not which driver it should use. (eg. does my D-Link network card use the Tulip or VIA Rhine chipset?)

Re:Misunderstanding (3, Insightful)

Genom (3868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269754)

Agree as well - the only time there seems to be a problem is when you have some rather non-standard hardware (eg: an older Sony laptop).

I've installed Debian on everything from pre-built workstations, to self-assembled servers, to my laptop, and I'd have to say the only one that gave me a problem was my laptop (mainly because most of the hardware in it needs drivers that aren't included in the default kernel).

Compiling a custom kernel fixed the problem. Packaging it with kernel-package (very easy) and saving it away makes any required reinstall a breeze.

Now, as we move towards a newer distribution (Woody is supposed to be released "real soon now"), this may not be a problem, as the default kernel *may* support my hardware - but I'm sure there will alwayx be people who have something exotic that doesn't work out-of-the-box (so to speak, when there is no real "box"...). The same troubles hold true on the Windows side of things as well, when things don't work right off, and you need a driver download, although their proprietarity allows them to pressure paranoid manufacturers into only supporting their OS (but that gets into another issue entirely...), so more drivers are generally available from the get-go.

Would it be nice to have a pointy-clicky Debian installer? long as I can type -expert at the prompt and get to the one I'm familiar with. Redhat did that transition right, IMHO - you can always start up the text-based installer instead of the graphical one if you prefer, but the graphical one is the default, so people who equate "graphical" with "user friendly" are taken care of. I wouldn't be upset if Debian did something similar, just wrapping their text installer in a graphical shell, while allowing the user to use the medium of their choice.

Sorry for rambling - need more coffee!

fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269623)


Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269632)

At least anon posting still works ;-)
Propz to all non logged in Trolls. Logged in Trolls suck azz.

- Moomin da farker

Too anal for user-friendliness (0, Flamebait)

Bernie (38226) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269625)

Storm tried and failed.

Progeny tried and failed.

Corel tried and failed.

The Debian community is simply to anal to take on these "user-friendly" additions. I really wish they would do something about this!

Debian--'cos life's too long :-/

Re:Too anal for user-friendliness (1)

PigleT (28894) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269645)

No. This debian user thinks that if someone isn't prepared to investigate a simple installer (what? read things? that'd never do) then they'll *NEVER* *bother* reading dpkg(8) and apt(8) - ie their on-going use will be crap too so no harm in "dissuading" the ignorant *and* lazy arses at install-time.
But ultimately "dissuading" is the wrong way of looking at it anyway. It works, it *is* simple - dead simple, just cursor-keys tab and enter - and there's no need to go around sticking pretty buttons on it that make people think "what does this circle with a triangle underneath it mean?".

GUI installers: Pfui.

Re:Too anal for user-friendliness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269790)

You know, I used Debian for several years. I was drawn to it for ideological reasons. Then one day I woke up and said to myself ``why do I keep banging my head against the wall?''. I dropped the ideology and sought out something better. It was the best move I ever made.

The problem with Debian is not in a static running system. The problem with Debian is in the maintenance and upgrading. If you get your Debian system in just the state you want, and don't ever change anything, you'll be fine. But eventually you will want to make changes, and it's then that shit happens.

Scalability should be #2 (5, Insightful)

Bollie (152363) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269653)

People always congratulate Mandrake on their beautiful installation, setup and configuration tools, but (and I speak from experience here) try to install it on anything with 32MB of RAM and you're in for a nasty surprise.

If this installer is to run on a CD distributed with the magazine, the second most important aim would be scalability. If this allows users to install Debian on a 486 with 16 MB RAM AND on a Athlon 1.2 GHz with 1 GB RAM providing the same options, I'd give it a thumbs up.

If you can use the same installer to install a minimum firewall/webserver or a heavyweight desktop with all the trimmings without requiring the user to upgrade the machine something spectacular, then this would be ideal.

When dealing with a magazine-subscriber audience, you need to expect hobbyists wanting to turn everything into Linux boxen...

Re:Scalability should be #2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269693)

I disagree.

If you give users a 2nd-rate-runs-on-486-with-16MB distro, they're going to hate Linux forever. If you give them something that's ok on a modern pc, it'll be junk on the old boxen. Something good on a modern PC won't even run on your elderly 486.

Give them a modern, slick Installer and OS for general Desktop use, and most people will be happy. "One size does not fit all", and "You can't please all of the people all of the time"

Painless Debian (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269659)

IMO this is a great debian installation guide Painless Debian []

Portability (1)

flossie (135232) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269661)

* i386 only: Since most (virtually all) of our readers use Intel-compatible systems, there is no point in supplying packages for other architectures. However a modified installer might be ported to other platforms by anyone interested. The overall concept is a good one, but if they are going to do it, it would be nice to see it done properly with a portable installer that could detect a wide variety of hardware - not just PCs. I would think that a well designed installer with portabilty designed in at the start would stand a much better chance of becoming the default installer than one which required a lot of work later - presumably this is what they want. I've just installed Debian on a few machines, having been attracted to it by the both the ideology and package system (which is truly, truly excellent!) but I still couldn't recommend it to someone with new hardware who hadn't installed a *nix system before. Most of the stuff was very simple (just hit return) but getting X up and running is not always entirely straightforward.

DIG UP HITLER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269678)

Kill CmdrKike and Homos. Kill them dead.

Debian installer (5, Informative)

Dr. Sp0ng (24354) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269688)

The Debian installer used to be awful, and you really needed to know your way around dselect to get it installed properly (or you can just install nothing and apt-get it all once you've installed).

I recently installed unstable, using the testing installer, and I was surprised to see that it doesn't seem to use dselect anymore! There's a much more friendly (although still text-based) utility it uses to select packages. Honestly, the installer really is pretty easy now (on par with RedHat, anyway, only a bit less pretty). It could be better for non-computer-literate users, but only stuff like the partitioning utility.

This was on alpha, btw. Things may be different on the x86 side of things.

Re:Debian installer (1)

dlbornke (68572) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269756)

The first thing you have to do when you have installed your basic Debian system, is to start 'tasksel', which provides you with 'tasks' instead of packages. In a 'task' you will find all packages associated with that task (for example the task 'Developer' will contain all programs necessary to develope software under Linux, task 'X' will contain everything you need in order to run a X server, etc).
If the program is not installed, install it with:
# apt-get install tasksel

With 'tasksel' you will configure your system in about 3 minutes!

First Linux distro I have ever installed and had n (1)

rednuhter (516649) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269691)

Debian is the first Linux distro I have ever installed and had no problem with it on ancient p200 with mainly ISA slots. (NOV 2000)
Except I had some grief with the SB AWE32 but thats another story :)

I still don't get it (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269692)

I've installed Debian dozens of times on many PCs. What's wrong with the installer ? Ok, the only tricky part I'd say, is the package installer. That DSelect thing can be painful at times, but the rest of the installation process is pretty straightforward and I actually enjoy how they present all the actions on the menu so you can jump ahead/back anything you like.

dselect must go and friendly advice to the guys (5, Informative)

ajv (4061) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269696)

dselect sucks. It's the hardest thing about getting a working debian install, akin to a purity or intelligence test. This is exclusionary, and the only way to fix it is to streamline the way a base debian gets installed. And to me, that means dselect must go. It's too hard and takes too long to get right. I've always found it much easier and faster to completely ignore dselect and add the packages I need later using apt, which is far more friendly (and actually works).

In HCI terms, you *must* understand your users. If your user base is educated professionals who have done hundreds of debian installs and can compile their own kernel without assistance, then the current installer is probably okay, but it's not where Debian needs to go. It has the developer Linux user sown up; Debian needs to add to the collection other types of users.

So we pick another user set - the Linux newbie and/or Windows refugee. These people don't want to know about installers, and you must make the interface hard for them to screw up. Remember in HCI terms, allowing the user to screw up might be powerful, but it's wrong. I'm not talking about GUIs here (even though I like 'em), I'm talking HCI and interface. You can have a very decent text installer.

Moving along... You describe to the potential newbie users why you need an installer in very basic non-prejudiced terms, so they understand the problem space but without suggesting to them potential solutions. Grab their suggestions and recommendations and experiences and write them all down. This is your specification to a certain extent. Users have a keen insight on what they like and they don't like. Ignore their advice at your own peril.

You create a first cut at an installer, constantly second guessing the users: "will my mum be able to do this?" "Do I have to do this now?" "Is this a reasonable set of defaults that don't need to be adjusted?" You want the user to make as few decisions as possible, whilst postponing as many decisions as possible to allow experienced users to customize it if they wish.

Once the first cut of the installer is done, you must get a bunch of new users, and watch them use it without assistance. Learn from the mistakes or missteps they make, and learn if there's steps you can eliminate. And of course, eliminate any bugs the users find.

Repeat ad nauseam until it's hard to get a bodged unrecoverable install.

Developers are truly the worst people to ask to do this. They *know* the right answers, and will not even think that there might be other possibilities.

A good OS installer is like the old A/UX 3.0 installer - it literally was a one button install if you had a disk ready for it.

Other OS's with decent installers are NetBSD (with the possible exception of the very confusing disk partitioner) or WinXP (very few questions indeed).

Re:dselect must go and friendly advice to the guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269720)

Yeah, dselect sucks. I used debian for a few years and switched to Red Hat, primarily because debian's dselect is so suckish. I knew what I was doing with dselect, and yet it was still awkward an clunky. What really, really used to piss me off were its suggested "optional" dependancies. Like, you want to install maybe a very simple utility, and dselect will spit out a list of bs, suggesting optionally installing emacs, fortran, lisp, and xdraw. And then if you forget to delete these "options" or if you hit the wrong keystroke (not unlikely with dselect), you will all of a sudden see 20 megs of dependancy bs loaded before it gets down to installing that 3K byte utility which is all you really wanted all along.

Re:dselect must go and friendly advice to the guys (2)

reynaert (264437) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269759)

dselect sucks.
Yes. That's why it's being replaced. The new installer the Debian guys are working on will use aptitude instaed.

Re:dselect must go and friendly advice to the guys (1)

akc (207721) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269795)

I might be me, but I found aptitude a LOT harder to use than dselect. Trouble was that it would often do things I didn't want, but it was not obvious how to do it differently.

Dselect is great for finding packages which you only have a vague idea what they are called. This is the main reason for me to use it rather than apt-get where you have to know the name of the package before you can install it.

I would subscribe the the view that dselect could be made more friendly - but I certainly don't find aptitude going in that direction.

Re:dselect must go and friendly advice to the guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269805)

Then "apt-cache search" is your friend. Stunningly easy to find a package if you don't know it's name. read man apt-cache. Sometimes it can return a bewildering list of results. I often find myself doing "apt-cache search . | grep foo" 100% success rate within seconds of finding your package with apt-cache.

Re:dselect must go and friendly advice to the guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269776)

You do NOT need to use dselect. Choose a simple install method, choose the tasks you want (I prefer a minimal install to begin with, installing only C/C++ compilation tasks). This gives a nice base to build upon. The command-line tools are *perfectly* adequate to install other packages. You want X windows? apt-get install x-window-system. You want to see ALL packages to install from? apt-cache search . You want to remove specific packages completely? dpkg --purge . View installed packages? dpkg -l. View installed package files, view package information, view dependancies, upgrade, remove, etc etc - it's ALL there on the command line, and it's not rocket science.

I agree, dselect is total poo. But here's the scoop - you do NOT need to use it.

As ever, READ the docs first. UNDERSTAND how the thing is working before you write it off completely. As far as binary linux distributions go, debian is the sweetest to install and manage. GUI (graphical or ncurses) does NOT equate to "easy" at the exclusion of all else.

Personally, I like to encourage people to try out linux, but I encourage them to actually understand whats going on, and not install something point-and-click-stylee aka windows without a hint of a clue whats actually happening under the bonet. Although it's no longer a hacker-only OS Linux is still lightyears away from being a realistic alternative for the pointyclicky people, so I agree with a few others here there's no need to pander to people unwilling to learn and hide everything behind a GUI or similar - although I would agree some form of hardware detection would be nice, but not essential.

If anyone else moans about debian being difficult to install or putting off the newbies, they should be forced to install Gentoo ;-)

Corel Linux installer? (3, Insightful)

magi (91730) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269709)

Why hasn't Debian project adopted the Corel Linux (nowadays Xandros Linux) installer? It's absolutely best Linux installer there is; much better than Red Hat, Mandrake, or SuSE.

Is the installer non-free software or what is the reason?

IMHO, using the Corel installer would give Debian a big jump forward. Debian's installation, especially the awkward dselect, is definitely its weakest point.

Nothing wrong with Debians installer, but... (3, Insightful)

perplex79 (555015) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269726)

IMHO there's nothing wrong with Debians installer, but it requires some Linux knowledge and is therefore unsuited for newbies. A graphical installer which installs a complete ready-to-use system (KDE, Gnome, Apache, Office apps etc.) with some mouseclicks would certainly give Debian a nice boost. Btw, there exists a very nice Debian-based Live Linux Filesystem named Knoppix [] (in German). Its hardware auto-detection is better than what I experienced with Mandrake, so maybe whoever wants to build a Debian installer might want to have a look at it.

In my (university) environment I noticed that most start with Mandrake, Red Hat or SuSE and sooner or later realize that RPM is a nightmare for keeping a system up-to-date. Then they try Debian and are blown away by its ease of use (me included).

Re:Nothing wrong with Debians installer, but... (2)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269780)

I hear comments like this, and I see the people around me using Debian, and the only conclusion I can make is that nobody is trying to use dselect to fine-tune a system. As soon as I gave up on it and just stuck to apt-get, everything afterwards was easy.

It is not the keystroke issue or the text mode thing, despite the fact that the keystroke combinations are pretty dumb, and the text interface takes hours to go through. It is that when you select something you didn't mean to, or you de-select something you did not intend, the consequences to your hour-long fine-tuning session can be catastrophic.

It is still mind-numbing to me why dselect would think that I wanted X11, gcc, perl and lilo(!) uninstalled. One keystroke too many I suppose...

NO NO NO NO!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269738)

We dont want a better install! how shall i bost to my friends under wintendo that I INSTALLED IT! Piff leave my debian alone.

Some thoughts (5, Informative)

reynaert (264437) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269749)

"With this article we'd like to ask all Debian developers and experienced users out there for feedback on an idea we've had."

I wonder why they haven't posted anything on the Debian mailing lists...

The Debian people are by the way already working on a better installer. Woody will be the last release that uses the current one. This new installer will use aptitude instead of dselect for example.

Also, Linux User only plans for i386 support. Check this page [] . Debian supports many architectures, and the installer should work on all of them. Also, remember that Debian is being ported to non-Linux kernels. The Hurd is coming along nicely, and will probably released in Woody+1, and people are starting on a port to NetBSD. Again, the installer should support these kernels.

Why only for Debian? (2)

forgoil (104808) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269758)

I would like to see a package manager for KDE (and those who do Gnome, probably want one for Gnome;)), and one package system for *BSD/Linux. Is there a single good reason to have a bunch of different ones? Especially knowing how good Red Hat is at doing anything (need I remind you of gcc 2.96.x for example...).

It's the same kernel, there are no need for special packages for different distributions. How come the linux distributions can't cooperate worth shit? If they want to add value to their distributions (such as is done with MacOS X and Windows XP, it's the same idea) that's great, but don't add different solutions to the same problem without _really_ adding anything. I am sure ever single linux user would love to be able to download the same package regardless of what distro you are on. And belive me, all those who try to support linux (iNTEL with their great compiler, nVidia with drivers, etc) will have a much easier time.

Then you can have your own package manager, like debian apt-get or a full blown bloated "want to be netscape and do everything by ourselves" super GUI app with IM, mail and a word processor.

Re:Why only for Debian? (1)

mschmitt (2947) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269784)

Is there a single good reason to have a bunch of different ones?

Yes, there is. It's called Freedom of choice.

No bloat please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3269771)

First time when i installed a Debian distro i chose the Corel distro.
And that was a time when i only had 16 megs of ram on that machine (yes i know wery well).
The Corel installer vent on all night long and died at 99%.
Then, after that, when i got a taste for Debian i installed the real thing.
It only took about 1-2 hours compared to the corel 6-8 houers.

documentation (2)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269786)

Debian does not need a new installer. I, as a newbie, read the installation guide, sat in #debian on and asked questions when i got stuck, and installed it and compiled a kernel in about 6 hours. (RedHat took me 1 hour, but I didn't understand a thing about the system.) What Debian needs a well indexed book of all the typical problems that people go to #debian with. It should have a list of common and not so common hardware and their chipsets and what kernel modules are needed. It should explain what packages what users might want, and why. It should explain Debian's init script setup. It should have a chapter each dedicated to apt/apt-get/dpkg/dselect, kpkg, networking, modems, cd burning, sound, printing, and XFree86. It should have some examples of files likely found in /etc. It should explain every option in the kernel configuration and suggest why you would or would not need it. It should be sure not to go over the head of newbies. If it is downright boring and unreadable to experts, fine, its not for them. I'd have gladly paid $50 for a book like that.

A web site where people could post exactly what hardware they had and exactly what they did to set up their system would be great. Do a search for your hardware, read what other people did, get yours set up, and post your list.

Need a better pre-installer (3, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269810)

What I'd really like to be able to do is to sit down at a fully installed Linux system and run a program that lets me specify out the hardware configuration of my system and the packages that I want to install on it. It should allow me to choose whether to install stable, testing or unstable. It should inquire whether I have a network connection I'm willing to install the system over. It should then compile a static kernel from my /usr/src/linux directory to my specification and build a bootable ISO image that I just need to boot on the target system to run the entire install. Ideally it would be robust enough that all I'd have to do is hand it to a user with the instructions, "Just boot this. It'll solve all your problems."

No they must be stopped! (2, Funny)

gorre (519164) | more than 12 years ago | (#3269812)

For reasons unknown to any living man since the dawn of time the debian installer has been the gates to the distro of the geek. It has protected us from the suits, script kiddies and those evil "home users" who legends say may even have regular sex. If these people bridge the gap between us and society the results could be disasterous, what if the world sees inside the geek safe-haven that is debian! KEEP THE NON GEEKS OUT!
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