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To: gentoo-installer@g.o
From: Eric Sammer <esammer@g.o>
Subject: Re: Why not GLIS?
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 21:04:57 -0500
Scott Hadfield wrote:
> I know it's a bit late for this discussion, but I never really 
> understood why GLIS wasn't a viable installer project for gentoo.

Short answer is that it doesn't cover all the features users want. 
(Remember we're talking about users, not just ourselves, etc.)

> It 
> even seems to me that an initial goal of GLI is to get to the point 
> where GLIS is at right now, i.e. working, based on a configuration file, 
> and highly flexible.

It's coincidence. The reason it's being rebuilt is because the 
architecture had to change to accommodate the required features.

> GLIS is written in bash and made up of about 8 
> small bash scripts (except for the partition code, which is way too big 
> for bash), and in my opinion this is really all you need for a gentoo 
> installer since all it takes to install gentoo is a few bash commands.

And while it's good that something such as that works for you, there's 
somewhere around 250,000 - 500,000 gentoo users out there (last I heard) 
that this doesn't work for. If it did, they wouldn't be asking for 
something else.

> GLIS simply takes those commands and puts them into scripts.
> 
> I don't think GLIS is the do-all/end-all of installer projects, but I do 
> think it's a good project and that it does the job quite well.

It is, and it does which is why the GLIS developer (Nathanial McCullam) 
is now a gentoo developer and working on the GLI.

> I've even 
> written a small gentoo kickstart howto with glis (needs updating) that's 
> posted on the forums.

Very cool.

> I've followed this installer project from its beginning in January,

This may come off wrong, but if you've been following it since its 
beginning, the differences in goals between GLIS and the GLI should be 
clear, as should the need for the GLI.

> but 
> it seems like most of core developer's don't have as much spare time to 
> devote to the project as they may have initially thought.

Not entirely true... just because cvs activity isn't streaming, doesn't 
mean it's not being worked on.

> If you adopted 
> GLIS as gentoo's installer right now then at least gentoo would have 
> something, and in 6-12 months when GLI is done you could switch over it.

Unfortunately, that would cause even further upset. See, if you 
introduce something new, get them to learn it, and then replace it with 
something with a very different feature set and design, well, you'll 
piss people off. The user group will then segment even further ("I like 
the original method", "I like GLIS", "I like the GLI", and "I'm 
confused") which will, obviously, do more bad than good. Plainly put, as 
cool as GLIS is, it does not have the features required by a general 
audience and therefore couldn't be adapted en mass.

> The one large development benefit I see from this is that people can 
> immediately start working on a GUI for the installer, and as long as the 
> GUI's interaction with the backend is well enough seperated from its UI, 
> there would be little difficulty in porting the code to work with GLI.

It's a bit more complicated than that. There's more to application 
design than drawing two boxes on a white board and labeling one 
"Backend" and one "GUI" no matter what people say.

> Of course having two different installer's at the same time would mean 
> more to manage, but the number of bugs that get reported on GLIS have 
> been very minimal in the past few months and I could easily maintain it 
> myself.

Again, all due respect to Nate - GLIS is very cool, but there have 
probably been few bugs in GLIS because it doesn't meet the needs of the 
majority of users.

To be clear, we're trying to meet the needs of a wider audience. This is 
not about "Gentoo is for l33t h@x0rz" or "tell the n00bz to RTFM" or 
"GUI installers suck" or "well, *I* won't use it." Gentoo's user base is 
growing as are their needs and to continue this way, we have to meet new 
needs.

As a (rather contrived) for-instance...

We build an installer like GLI with multiple front ends, auto-deployment 
for large networks, reusable installation classes and frameworks. More 
users take notice in Gentoo and our user base grows because we appeal to 
more people. As these users graduate from universities or get higher 
positions in jobs, they will take their fondness of Gentoo with them. 
They'll want to use Gentoo in the workplace (this is already happening). 
Their workplace uses Oracle, but Oracle doesn't support Gentoo. Bummer. 
(If you jump in and say, "well, use MySQL/PostgreSQL," you've missed the 
point.) After time and as this trend continues, Oracle sees a new 
platform they *have* to support due to growth and popularity. Gentoo 
becomes an Oracle certified platform and is now supported. Those people 
who like Gentoo can now use it in the workplace. More users come to 
Gentoo. Users turn into devs. Gentoo gets more features, bug fixes, 
ebuilds, whatever. The world is a better place. Gentoo is a better 
distro. Linux gains more acceptance.

This, of course, is not all resting solely on the shoulders of something 
like GLI - I do not live with such delusions of grandeur. But, the open 
source world's ability to grow and become more accessible to new 
industries is being watched and tallied.

If the word Oracle bugs you, s/Oracle/Company X/g. If you don't care if 
Gentoo gains popularity and just want a neat desktop, that's ok too, but 
after the week I've had cursing at Solaris...

(Sorry for the diatribe, but I'm feeling technologically philosophical 
this evening.)
-- 
Eric Sammer
Gentoo Linux
http://www.gentoo.org
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Replies:
Re: Why not GLIS?
-- Scott Hadfield
References:
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-- Donnie Berkholz
Re: ping
-- Eric Sammer
Why not GLIS?
-- Scott Hadfield
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