On Sunday, April 13, 2003, at 09:49 am, Jeff Rose wrote:
> One of the major pains in the redhat like installers deals with
> package selection. I think it is ridiculous to give people a list of
> a thousand packages and tell them to pick. Especially since the
> package documentation is horrible. Most people probably wouldn't know
> that its important for them to have the e2fsprogs installed, for
> example. So, this
> is the portion of the installer where I see the most room for
I work (for my sins) in an evangelically M$-only environment. Our IT
Director has obviously read something in the newspapers recently about
Linux, so he dusted off his "old" Vaio c-series & installed DeadRat,
then brought it to me when it booted to Gnome & didn't set-up the circa
1180 x 480 screen resolution properly.
Some things I found:
- sendmail started at the default runlevel when I booted it up.
- he was logging in to the GUI as root, and didn't even now how to get
a virtual terminal using ctrl-alt-f1
- gcc wasn't installed and the VaioCam stuff needs installing from
- RH8 allows you to copy the CD .iso files to hard-drive (in DOS for
instance), boot from a floppy, and then continue the install from these
HD images. Unfortunately, once the system is installed, the "control
panel" package manager doesn't know where to look for CDs, and fails
anytime you try to add packages. I couldn't find an option to change
this at all, so ended up mounting the .iso files as `-o loop` (mind
you, at least I learned something), running rpm from the CLI, and
fulfilling dependencies by hand. Yeuch! It's cute & ironic that Gentoo
is intended for "power-users", as against RH's ease-of-use, yet such a
problem cannot arise with Gentoo.
- I want a Vaio c-series
Now, I rather like the current Gentoo install process, but I've been
using Linux for a couple of years already. A friend with only Windows
experience recently overheard me talking about Gentoo, and decided to
try it. Because he does not live locally, I can't visit him to help
when he has problems with his install, and I really feel I should have
We'll see how it goes when my friend resolves his present issue with an
older CD-ROM drive resolved, but I would not complain if an installer: -
helped with network card detection,
and helped ensure that /etc/modules.autoload was suitable
- saved typing when partitioning
- automated the copying / extraction if the stage.tar files
- did the chroot automatically
- prompted the user for a root password
- insisted on adding an initial user
(making sure it gave that user wheel privileges, so the user can `su`)
- offered to install a GUI of the user's choice
from the KDE / Gnome grp tarballs
- did NOT add xstart to the default run-level, but added info on how to
do so to the MOTD. AFAICT configuring X can be a a bit complicated,
and autodetection of hardware could be quite a task to write. So IMO,
when the system is booted for the first time, it should go to the
CLI, and newbie users can't complain if X doesn't handle their
graphics card / monitor: the answer is "it's not intended to do
- on the same theme, I'd like the installation process to disable root
logins to the GUI.
- some other stuff I can't think of at this time in the morning
It arises however that Gentoo has some very nice features for its new
- Gentoo installs a simple Unix system, with no bloat.
This really is what Unix is about: I often read in Linux newsgroups
posters asking "Why doesn't foo happen when I click bar in the network
options box of the Linux control panel".
So many GUI configuration tools are available in modern distros that
they become, perhaps, less usable, and harder to support.
Unix is NOT Windows - why do folks so often try to make it that way..?
Equally I feel that Gentoo probably shouldn't be marketed as a first
distro (and it's bit unfortunate that so many newbies consider
themselves power-users & like the idea of a "small, tight,
highly-optimised system", but have expections of GUI configuration
- Gentoo doesn't impose a particular GUI on you, or install 5.
I remember finding the choice a bit overwhelming when I first tried
- It's not Unix if cc isn't installed.
I've met OS X sys admins who are afraid to install from source, and I
remember my trepidation at the idea when I first started Linux.
Gentoo overcomes this VERY well.
So, anyway, I'm probably preaching to the converted here, and so
wasting my breath. I usually try not to advocate operating systems. I
guess I'm proposing balance in any installer that is written: if you
don't try to make it do too much, I think you could be very successful.
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