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Progeny Announces Graphical Installer for Debian Woody 231

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 Anonymous Coward
    Wheres the screenshots? :P
  • The first time I went to install Debian it was pretty intimidating with dozens of packages all over the place I didn't know what the hell was going on so I decided to go back to good ol' RedHat 6.2. Trusty and reliable I always say!
  • Why now? (Score:2, Troll)

    by mikael ( 484 )
    This installer has been available to the Debian developers for how long? 2 years? It's unbelievable that they haven't been using it earlier. No, they had to write it from scratch, and it is still not finished.
    • Re:Why now? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by blackcat++ ( 168398 )
      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.
    • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Informative)

      by reynaert ( 264437 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:02AM (#4520779)
      The Progeny installer has three major problems:
      • It doesn't work on most of the architectures supported by Debian (does it even work on anything but i386?)
      • It is geared toward CD installs, its support for network installs is just not good enough.
      • It's too much work to make a installer. The Debian people hope to have a installable version of testing available at all times, but that's just too much work with PGI.
    • Re:Why now? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Turmio ( 29215 )
      Perhaps because PGI only works with i386 (afaik?) But Debian/unstable is being developed for 13 different Linux-based architectures plus 4 non-linux (hurd, *bsd) []. shiny-multimedia-super-douper-developed-for-pc-use rs junk just doesn't work there. That's why you have to build a modular installer engine from scratch so you can choose graphical back-end if your platform supports it or you want in in the first place. I don't want a graphical installation even for my monster AthlonXP box.

      And you always have the right to stop bitching and use something else if you don't like the way Debian is doing things. Try it sometime. Thank you very much.
  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:40AM (#4520687) Homepage
    ... will I need a mouse to install my system ?
  • by Tomah4wk ( 553503 ) <> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:42AM (#4520691) Homepage
    Fair enough it might be intimidating to a 'new' user, but its the only installer ive ever used that offers me the flexibility i need. Ive used mandrake, SuSE, lycoris, corel and red hat and with any of those distributions it is impossible to do something that the devlopers didnt think of in advance. Debians installer lets you configure your system in as much detail as you want, and install from a large variety of mediums (various network, physical etc). All in all, id be suprised to see anyone improve it, making it graphical is just eye candy, you cant provide anything 'extra', you just make it more pleasing to the eye.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Agreed. Who carez about installers.
      Decent systems, like Debian or FreeBSD, you only install once!


      Jorgen Maas

      • Decent systems, like Debian or FreeBSD, you only install once!

        If you only have one machine.
        • by psavo ( 162634 ) <> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:24AM (#4520914) Homepage
          Decent systems, like Debian or FreeBSD, you only install once!

          If you only have one machine.

          dd if=/dev/hda1 of=/dev/hdb1
          • dd? Hmm...sure...that would work...

            But I perfer installing one system, getting all the packages I want selected and installed, then on the second system, get base installed. (Getting a Debian system with just the Debian base [base being Linux system up and running and ready for you to use apt-get/dselect/etc.] then, on the system that's in the finished state:

            dpkg --get-selections >> zibbys.selections

            Transfer zibbys.selections to base system, then run:
            dpkg --set-selections zibbys.selections
            apt-get dsist-upgrade

            And off goes the wonderful tool called apt, downloading all my selections.

            Dumping your selections is a great way to do backups on a budget too. Just back up configs, /home, /usr/local, and other custom areas, and a selections file. If you need to recover, install base, add selections, install, restore /etc/, /home/, /usr/local...
    • by AntiFreeze ( 31247 ) <antifreeze42@gmail. c o m> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:53AM (#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.]

    • I don't mind debians installer, but when my XF86Config-4 is wrong and it won't let me into linux anymore... i stop losing faith. Being Linux savvy doesn't mean knowing every file in /etc by hart. It's like expecting everyone to be a good lisp hacker if they want to use emacs: not the way to go.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't have a problem with the complexity of the installer but it is bloody annoying to have to sit in front of the computer, answering question after quention for the duration of the install.

      An ideal install would ask all the questions at the start then get on with the install.
    • The installer in Woody is already a lot better than the one in Potato, but still lacks the sort of flexibility most people need. Adding hardware detection using Discover and Mdetect would preconfigure hardware-related packages, but still leave the flexibility to partition the disk, etc. just the way we like it. For those who want a graphical installer, there's a PGI-based install CD too. Thanks Branden! This is just what we need to show the corporate world how easy it is to adopt Debian! :-)

      PS: The Woody CD-1 image found on most European mirrors appears to be non-bootable. Even if I boot from floppy, the installer constantly complains that some packages on the CD are corrupt. Meanwhile, the non-US Potato rev.7 CD-1 always boots flawlessly. Could anyone fix this?

    • 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.
  • ScreenShots (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rubbersoul ( 199583 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:43AM (#4520696)
    For those that are interested here are screenshots of PGI v0.9.6
  • by Anonymous Coward
    network.img from mandrake. This boot disk allows you to install from the internet WITH A GRAPHICAL installer and USES UPTO DATE SOFTWARE. Im using it right now, and Ive never looked back.
  • by pvera ( 250260 ) <> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:47AM (#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 psavo ( 162634 ) <> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:18AM (#4520871) Homepage
      Debian is not aimed at simple minds. It's done by developers for developers/power users. If you're n00b, then you should start with some other distro, with some available commersial support.
      Then, When that becomes too limiting, move on to debian. At that point debian installer is not confusing, but raher powerful. (I just installed debian from scratch after disk failure, so I know what I'm talking about). That install of mine was first in 3-4 years.
      • 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. This doesn't seem like a productive goal for a product.

        The debian installer IS confusing. I can use it, but it IS confusing. It is possible to create GUI's that contain both power and finess, most simply as a choise between proceeding with a GUI install or an ncurses based one.

        The idea that it's ok to leave the debian installer challenging because debian should only be used by 'qualified' people is obsurd. The product should appeal to as many people as it can w/o loosing it's power. A simple installer would go a long way for that.

        • by psavo ( 162634 ) <> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @12:20PM (#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.
        • You're speaking as if Debian were a company. It's not. It's a group of developers who work on what they need most or are most interested in. If you want a better installer for Debian, you're welcome to write one. People are working on one, but personally, I don't see a compelling need that would warrant taking developers away from another part of Debian.

          Bringing more inexperienced users to the platform will just place more burden on the hardy few that answer peoples' questions, respond to bogus bug reports, etc. Those users are better off with a distribution targeted to them.
  • I took a look at the screenshots, and the dialogs don't seem very polished. They should hire GUI designer or something.
    • But they work. So who really cares?

      People bitch about the text based installer...but it has always worked fine for me. Now they bitch about the graphical installer because it's clumsy. Who the fuck cares? It gets the job done. And you'll only see it once in a long while unless you repeatedly hose your system.

      Debian works great. The text based install works great. The progeny installer also works great. If you like pretty graphics, get a mac with OSX.

      In other words. Quit your bitchin'.

  • What? (Score:1, Funny)

    A picture of Tux holding a glass of beer in the top left corner isn't graphical enough for you???
  • cross-platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4im ( 181450 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:54AM (#4520745)

    If Debian remains true to it's high standards, no graphical installer will make it into a stable distribution unless it works for every platform supported by Debian.

    So, sure, go ahead, use the Progeny one... but do make it work on (Ultra)Sparc, Alpha, Amiga, Atari ST, PA/RISC, S390, whatever... not so easy, is it?

    Guys, remember, there's more to Linux than just x86!

    • Re:cross-platform? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fluffy the Cat ( 29157 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:22AM (#4520894) Homepage
      The next generation Debian installer is designed to be modular (the idea is that the same installer will be usable on all architectures, including the Hurd and BSD ports). It's possible that graphical modules will be available, but this won't compromise the functionality of the text based install.

      On the other hand, refusing to provide a graphical installer because it doesn't work on all supported hardware isn't a sensible attitude only. There are items of hardware that are never going to support a graphical install (I've a Sun with no framebuffer here) - should Debian refuse to allow graphical installs as a result?
      • Re:cross-platform? (Score:2, Informative)

        by GrnyS ( 131646 )
        Eh? Refusing?

        Last I checked, PGI was in stable, testing and unstable. (But then, last I checked PGI wasn't finished yet, either.)
    • by asv108 ( 141455 )
      (Ultra)Sparc, Alpha, Amiga, Atari ST, PA/RISC, S390

      Great idea! Lets hold up pogress on 99% of Debian installs to insure compatibility with platforms that make up a a ridiculously low amount of the installed base. It doesn't make any sense to slow x86 development in order to keep Amiga and Atari ST up to do date in the year 2002.

      • Re:cross-platform? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Drakonian ( 518722 )
        Great idea! Let's abandon all Linux business software because Linux has a ridiculously low amount of installed base of business users.
      • Nor does it make sense to hack together an installer that only works on x86, creating more work down the road when the other platforms have to be supported.
      • by TrentC ( 11023 )
        Great idea! Lets hold up pogress on 99% of Debian installs to insure compatibility with platforms that make up a a ridiculously low amount of the installed base.

        Why not? Debian is a "by the users, for the users" kind of noncommercial distribution. Compatibility with minority architectures may not be important to you, but it is a stated goal of Debian, and it is something that the developers and packagers wrangle with on a regular basis.

        Branden Robinson, the XFree86 maintainer for Debian, has XFree86 running on more architectures than the XFree people themselves officially support -- his packages are the "de facto portabiltiy standard" for XFree86.

        If you think progress is being "held up", then contribute to development on the arches you want supported, and let the developers who want to work on the minority platforms do so. Because they're not going away any time soon.

        Jay (=
  • by Psiren ( 6145 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:54AM (#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?
    • Does the graphical frontend actually offer any significant additions over the text one?

      Consistency for starters. There is no consistency in the way that the pieces of the current Debian text installer work. And that "thing" to select various packages is the worst console application I have ever seen - unintuitive, slow and a nightmare to navigate.


      • I assume you're talking about dselect?

        Again, I'll have to say I like it. I've tried various other package installers and none of them are as straightforwward and useful as dselect. Aptitude just doesn't cut it for me. Well, maybe I'm just wierd ;)
    • by Fluffy the Cat ( 29157 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:18AM (#4520875) Homepage
      Does the graphical frontend actually offer any significant additions over the text one?

      Hardware autodetection. Fewer questions asked. It's not just a graphical version of the standard Debian install, it's something a great deal closer to the Red Hat or Mandrake installers.

      Debian will always have a text installer available, because it supports platforms which may not have graphical capabilities. Doing a graphical install over a serial console is, uhm, tricky.
    • Graphical installations are usually better since the people who take the pain to do them usually design them for the end users from the beginning.
      Which is not the case of the debian installer. I renounced to use it in favor of slackware a long time ago since i found myself after the installation with a qwerty keyboard. Yes, i know there was a command to type at that point.But it's the first thing i do with slack.
      It's probably much better now and it's really newbye friendly even in text mode?
    • 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.
    • "Worse, it requires a graphical display, so you then enter the fb/X11 compatability issues. "

      Somehow I think your overstating the potential problems as that is just not an issue for the vast majority of installs. Hell if MS can do 100% of installs with a GUI why can't Linux?

      No offense, but that is the attitude that has kept Debian is in the dark ages. Why shouldn't the 99% of the world who isn't an expert at the CLI not have easy access to Debian?

      I said it before that I'm a Redhat fan and while they are 100% true to the community, there is something to be said for having a noncommercial distro around. Also the better Debian is the less likely you are to have companies like Xandros , Lindows, or United Linux who are trying to hijack linux and make is 99% free 1% proprietary. Why would anyone use them if Debian is just as easy to use?

      Ease of use is a good thing.

      • MS only runs on a much more uniform set of hardware, and vendors do often provide MS with better driver support than they provide Linux. And most installs do work most of the time. But even then they don't correctly install everything - if you've got newer hardware, you need to install driver disks for it, and if you're running one of the Administrator-oriented OSs, such as Win2000Pro, you can get into issues with user permissions - either you can't install something as a regular user, or you become Administrator to install it and the permissions get set in a way that you can't use it later when you're logged in as your regular user account again.
  • Hm... It's probably time to move over Debian.. Hey, what's the name of that distro without graphical installer? Gotta try it...
  • by Stephen Williams ( 23750 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:58AM (#4520761) Journal
    (Disclaimer: it's been over a year since I did my Debian install, and my memory is somewhat fuzzy).

    The first part of a Debian install, where you make disk partitions, set the hostname etc. is similar enough to a RedHat text-mode install (of which I've done several) that it didn't faze me. I don't think that part of the Debian install is difficult at all.

    The difficult part is the second stage of the installation: selecting packages with tasksel/dselect. I took one look at it and just hit "quit". That gave me a base install, with nothing else. However, there's more than one way to skin a cat: I used apt-cdrom/apt-get to install all the rest of the stuff I wanted.

    I'm not saying that Joe Average would/should be happy with apt-get from the command line; I'm saying that it's dead easy for someone with only a small amount of Unix/Linux experience to use, and it's much easier than dselect. It's perfectly possible to install Debian without wrestling with dselect.

    • > The difficult part is the second stage of the installation

      No, no, I don't think so. The people complained about Debian not because of tasksel. After all, tasksel is just a bit more difficult than Redhat "install type". They complained it because there are so many things that Debian don't configure, and don't provide any interface to install other than reading HOWTOs.

      See how sound is unconfigured, CD-RWs can't be written to, firewall accessible only to people with a text editor and time reading the long iptable doc, and even things as basic as setting date and time has no interface other than firing date and hwclock.

      Don't get me wrong, Debian is now in everything I use regularly, and I love it the current way. After all, I don't have to do a system install until the next time I buy a new computer. But it is undeniable that Debian is not the easiest thing to put into your computer.
  • Mix and match? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by twilight30 ( 84644 )
    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).
  • That's what you pay distributors for, y'know? Honestly, if you wanna switch from 'doze to Linux, you'll best be of on a money-making distro (or give that money to the Linux geek-friend for him setting up a system for you).
    Yet I don't get the heavy RH bias on /. - seems from the measily 30% of slashdotters using Linux regularly, 90% use RH with no knowlege of what's going on in the rest of the *nix world.
    Anyway, you want a graphic installer? I recommend SuSE and for good reasons [] too.
    • Trouble with suse is its proprietry software - some of us switched to linux to get away from all of that.
    • If you switch from 'doze to SuSE, then you're jumping out of the frying pan, into a slightly overheated bath, with someone else controling the temperature.

      YaST, and hence SuSE as a whole, is non-free software. Of course Red Hat is drifting that way with their silly trademark games, so I wouldn't recomend them either.

      You may say that YaST is almost free, but licenses are more important than many people think. After all, we're not all talking about *BSD taking over from 'doze are we.

      Why opt for SuSE's "license-light", when you could give up the non-free license habit entirely?
      • I'm not the kind to pee my pants for using 'not super-dooper free software'. SuSE has lockin mechanisims up their sleve and slips them in on every distro. Anyone savy enough knows that.
        I didn't switch to Linux for the sole fact that it's free - I did so because it will free me in the long run. I will never again have to learn a new OS just because Mickey$oft or somebody else thinks I should.

        Everyone who buys himself into the 'nixworld with a distro should look forward to become independent one day. Thus rendering him capable of getting usefull stuff done for himself and others rather than shelling out money for crappy EULAware. But he also should be glad to pay money whom money is due for a smooth startup if they offer a good product. It's not that SuSE isn't contributing, y'know?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why is everybody whining about the disadvantages with a graphical installer?

    Ok, so the text-installer *works*, but that's just bearly. You will have to work a lot of things out by yourself, specially when it comes to hardware detection.

    As it is today, it seems like Debian is only for people with an already extended knowledge about Linux, and these people wants to keep the difficult ancient text-only installer to "keep the newbies away" from Debian, and make it a distro for the experts.

    This is not the right way. Linux should be for *everybody*, not just those who can understand the way-too-difficuly installer.

    The best would of course be to have both at graphical installer AND the text-only installer. Then the hardcore Debian users could still use the text-only installer since they seem to like it so much, and we mortals could use the nice GUI installer. Then both partys would be happy.

    Why isn't it so already?
    • This is not the right way. Linux should be for *everybody*, not just those who can understand the way-too-difficuly installer.

      You're confusing Linux with Debian GNU/Linux. All the Debian users I know (it's been a long time since I last made the mistake of attending a LUG meeting so it's been a while since I met any) don't use it because it's easy. In fact, they get perverse pleasure out of the fact that a lot of people don't use it.

      They love to bad mouth anyone who doesn't use it, badgering them into trying it. Then when the would be convert reverts back to their previous distro in disgust, the beardies simply get all smug and superior. These Debian users (I'll give the developers the benefit of the doubt, although the only one of them I know is an arrogant tosser), are the the spiritual brothers of real ale fanatics. In fact, at the local LUG there is an unsurprising correlation between CAMRA and LUG membership. The kind of c*nts who'll drink something that smells and most likely tastes like bear piss (I've tried real ale but not bear wee, so the comparison is supposition) just becasue it makes them a minority.


  • by vrt3 ( 62368 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:19AM (#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.

    • 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! :-)
  • I don't care whether an installer is graphical or not, as long as it works. And having installed Debian, Redhat, and Gentoo lately, I have to say that the Debian install was the only one that went without even the slightest problem, quite contrary to Redhat (failed when configuring X, machine locked up, reboot, finish install manually) and Gentoo (trouble with the PCMCIA ethernet card).

    Plus, Debian doesn't have a multi-Gb default install full of crap, contrary to some other distros ...

  • by Yuioup ( 452151 )
    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,


  • 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 miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g m a> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:05AM (#4521239) Homepage Journal
    Complaint to reaction time around a day. Something that a known not named software companie could learn from.

  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:07AM (#4521260)
    Whether graphical or text based, Linux installers still ask too many unnecessary questions, and usually at the wrong time. RedHat or Mandrake's installers may be graphical, but they are just as annoying.

    There are only very few questions that the installer really, really needs to ask the user, and for those, a text interface should be sufficient.

  • Having done a Debian as my first shot at Linux for our company - I have to say that the installer gives WAY too many options that require you to be pretty familiar with the hardware you're running. I ultimately was able to ask questions and get things fixed, but our average user doesn't want to have to learn that much about their hardware.

    Red Hat was much simpler, and did a better job at probing and giving me reasonable defaults. It still had some goofs - but I was able to get the system running at a baseline so that I was fixing things "within" the system rather than from the outside.

    Getting the installer "right" with reasonable guidance for the newbie, and options to override for the expert, seems to be one of the seemingly simple but incredibly difficult things that most distributions still need to get right.

    Of course, the other thing I would like to see most distributions understand is that many people are bringing Linux into a Windows world. So having support from the install for Windows networks (mapped drives and authentication) would make it much easier to put on more desktops.

    My .03 worth...
  • More important... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:27AM (#4521415)
    A graphical installer is all good and well, but it's essentially the text-based version at a higher resolution.

    What we need is more enhancements to the 3.0 one -- i.e. better hardware detection, more linear structure, easier questions etc. Text mode is fine, as early RH installers proved.

    Oh, and as for dselect: as others have pointed out, you don't have to use it. I've installed Debian 2.1 and 2.2 on some old laptops recently, and I just quit out of it straight away and use "dpkg -i" for whatever files I need.

  • Maybe I've been in the Debian camp too long but...

    Linux has a graphical user interface? Is that like Macintosh or something?
  • The step by step process is extremely simple to follow, even the first time. Sure, hardware autodetection could be a plus and I have never found a use for tasksel and tasksel's idea of what can be useful for a particular task, but I really don't understand why Debian frightens people so much. Agreed, the first time use of dselect requires to read the help screen at least once to remember a handful of keys, but that's all. After that one can enjoy the bliss of installing whole packages and dependancies in very few keystrokes.

    But on the other hand, maybe I love Debian too much to see any faults in it.

  • More information... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jdaily ( 35368 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:39AM (#4521493) Homepage

    PGI does support ia64 as well as i386, and developers outside of Progeny are working on powerpc. The design is modular, to minimize the work required to make it functional on other architectures (although "minimize" should not imply that it's easy).

    We hope to have ia64 CDs available shortly, but given the relative market shares of the two platforms, we wanted to make the i386 images available without waiting for ia64.

    Other recent developments at Progeny include the release of Discover 2.0 [], a cross-platform extensible hardware identification library and tool; Progeny Graphical Installer (PGI) 1.0 [], which contrary to its name is properly an installer creation system; and the announcement of Platform Services [], a subscription service that makes it easier for companies to develop and maintain Linux-powered products and services.

  • by Schwarzy ( 70560 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:46AM (#4521547)
    Do you notice that more and more of the review spent their time on installation process ? I have even the feeling that review are just for the installation process.

    I am a 3 years Debian user (Redhat and Mdk before). Recently, I wanted to have a look on other distro in order to see the global improvement and how they perform in daily desktop usage.

    To save time, I started to have a look at all this review on RedHat and Mdk (I use debian unstable everyday so no need for a review :) ). I was frustated: none have a clue on daily usage. The install process is well described but ... just few words to almost no word on desktop/usage experience ... Problem of reviewer skill or lack of time ? Does users really spend their time reinstalling their distro (Windows habit too hard to drop :) )?

    • Wish I had mod points for this one. Really how important is the installation? Sure -- with an easy installation you may be up and configured in 45 minutes --- a tough one may take a week. But in the end -- both are small periods of time compared to the 12 Months -- 3 years+ that you will actually be using the software on a day to day basis. I am more into "How often will this distro be updated?", "How many 3rd party packages will be available?" --- I don't want to install a new distribution every 3 months no matter if it takes 3 minutes or 3 weeks -- I want to install a distribution 1 time and then move on to productivity, and hope that I can keep my distribution up to date and compatible without having to go through any more installs.
  • Thanks, Progeny! This is what free software is about. Debian provides a great base system, which works incredibly well for those who use it. Progeny has other ideas for it, so they extend it to work better for their target audience.

    It's hard to complain about that.

    Oh, except, it's stifling innovation, and commercialization. I forgot. Damn.
  • Can be a royal PITA, and Dselect isn't the only problem. Some of the install questions are pure greek to the average linux newbe, and many current users of other distros. Dselect's UI is often user hostile.

    But ..... I've managed to install Bo, Slink, Potato, and now Woody. I suffered with Dselect on the first two, found apt-get a refreshing change with Potato, and later used gnome-apt. Now if deb-config would get cleaned up.....
    I still wouldn't use any other distro.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama