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To: gentoo-installer@g.o
From: Kurt Lieber <klieber@g.o>
Subject: summary of IRC conversation
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004 12:51:18 -0500
All --

A good discussion was just had on the IRC channel and I thought I'd
summarize it here for anyone who missed it.

A suggestion (which has come up before in other discussions) was made to
think of the installer as two separate pieces.  A front end and a back end.
The front end would be nothing more than a highly specialized text editor,
responsible for interfacing with the user in some fashion and outputting a
text file in some standards-based format (XML was favored among those in
the discussion)

The back end would be responsible for taking this file and doing the actual
installation.  The back end would then spit out messages in some
pre-defined format that some other app (not necessarily the front-end, but
it could be) could listen to and use to display status messages to the

By separating the two pieces as such, we ensure that people can have *any*
front end that they want.  Want a GTK installer?  no problem.  QT?  OK.
Prefer a web-based installer?  You got it.  In other words, as long as the
front end spits out the file in the format expected by the back end,
nothing else matters.  The two pieces are entirely abstracted from one
another  (This is covered in the requirements doc that Eric has been
maintaining.  We just fleshed it out a bit on IRC)

A further discussion was made about having the back end spit out status
messages of some sort that could be parsed by another program and used to
display progress updates as the install progresses.  Again, it was
suggested that these be standards-based (again, XML was favored among those
in the discussion) so that it would be easy to tie them into other

With the above described installer, you could have both:

* an interactive installer that used a GUI interface to walk a user through
  installing his first Gentoo system from scratch
* an automated installer that installed gentoo on a 200-node web cluster
  and displayed the status of all 200 installations on one web page that
  the admin could quickly scan to note the progress of each install.

Abstracting things this way also allows us to do other cool things like
have a web site that creates installation files for users that they can
download and use to install Gentoo.  Or, ISPs could allow their customers
to install Gentoo remotely while still giving them total control over the
install process, including custom partition schemes, CFLAGS, etc.  

Doing things this way is in-line with Gentoo as a distribution -- we give
users the flexibility and choice to do things the way they want/need to.

So, thoughts?

pgpuuq5RDBbDD.pgp (PGP signature)
Re: summary of IRC conversation
-- Paul de Vrieze
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