Home > Debian and its clones > Debian-Installer pre-rc2 technology previewDebian-Installer pre-rc2 technology preview Submitted by Chris 2004-10-02 Debian and its clones 54 CommentsThe pre-rc2 release is a preview of new features for the new Debian installer. Have a look at these screenshots and read more. About The Author Eugenia LoliEx-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 54 Comments 2004-10-02 7:38 am When I used the previous release of the installer I noticed that the installer will try to detected if there is a dhcp server.If it founds it then it will start to use it automatically.The problem is that I’d like to choose.That’s because in my corporate lan there I have a static ip assigned to me but there is dhcp too.The problem is from my static ip I can access the internet.From dhcp I can only access the ftp and not the http.Story juice: let the user to choose if to use dhcp or not.Can’t very that in the new installer release, though. 2004-10-02 7:40 am Pardon my crappy English.> Can’t very that in the new installer release, though.Can’ verify that with … 2004-10-02 8:04 am It says that the new d-i will install with as little as 24mb of RAM. Given debian’s commitment of running on archaic hardware, I hope boot-floppies. (which supposedly could be coaxed into working with 4mb of RAM) will remain available in some form. 2004-10-02 8:17 am I doubt boot-floppies will be going away anytime soon. I actually prefer floppy-network installs than burning a CD (why waste a CD, plus my old thinkpad has problems with booting off of some burned CDs), and recently did a network-floppy install with a beta of the new installer. Worked like a charm. 2004-10-02 8:38 am Shutup! Theres nothing wrong with a non-graphical installer. It doesnt make it harder to use. I for one prefer this type, its less bloated and quicker on old pc’s. 2004-10-02 8:49 am Do you realise that Debian runs on 11 different architectures and that the installation process and screens have to be consistent across all of them? In addition, do you realise that it is impossible to provide GUI install screens on all 11 architectures for a variety of reasons?What is wrong with Debian’s install process? Nothing is hard if you work through it with a logical mind. 2004-10-02 9:09 am IMHO their LVM handling is not very convenient. You first have to explicitly activate LVM and then every single volume group before you see any LVM volumes in the partition listing. Other installers like Mandrake’s, SuSE’s, or Anaconda do autodetect existing LVM volumes and show them right from the start in the partition list. This is much faster. 2004-10-02 9:17 am There was this april fools joke a while ago where they had Konquerer running on a terminal, because they’d ported QT to ASCII (or something). Technically, if you accept a minimal interface, you could have an ASCII version and a graphical version.The problem is that geeks like to talk about graphical vs text as merely decoration, and that it doesn’t impair because the information is there.Text means you can’t have the interface that people expect. Wasn’t the installer supposed to be to attract newbies to Debian becaus currently they go to Mandrake/Fedora/SuSE? These users are on PCs, not the 11 architectures. Someone on a jabbascript 230 can install Debian alreday.I know the installer has problems with all kinds of languages (as, fitting in the characters required in some languages due to ram constraints) but this just looks like arse. 2004-10-02 9:31 am Wasn’t the installer supposed to be to attract newbies to Debian becaus currently they go to Mandrake/Fedora/SuSE?Not really. The main problem with boot-floppies (the old installer) was that the code is old and messy and it became increasingly difficult to maintain and update without breaking stuff. Adding things like hardware detection and usibility improvements were of course also a reason for the new installer. It would have been difficult to add stuff like that to boot-floppies.Debian Installer is modular and among other things allows different UIs to be used. Right now, the curses-based one is the only one, but I’ve heard the Ubuntu folks are working on a graphical interface.Of course, a large part of the Windows installer is also text based… 2004-10-02 10:07 am So the Debian guys have just finished something that’s not better than the NetBSD installer, except it arrives 3 years later and under a proprietary license. Good job guys. 2004-10-02 10:42 am Proprietary license?? Isn’t Debian installer GPL software? 2004-10-02 10:50 am So the Debian guys have just finished something that’s not better than the NetBSD installer, except it arrives 3 years later and under a proprietary license.What exactly is so proprietary about it? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the BSD license’s big weakness is that it’s used to prop up proprietary software. At least with GNU/Linux, the code is free forever. 2004-10-02 11:10 am From the FAQ (http://wiki.debian.net/?DebianInstallerFAQ):You can force static network configuration by providing boot parameter netcfg/use_dhcp=false at the boot prompt. 2004-10-02 12:30 pm I doubt boot-floppies will be going away anytime soon. I actually prefer floppy-network installs than burning a CD (why waste a CD…CD’s are cheaper. Though how about using a bootable USB thumbdrive? 2004-10-02 12:51 pm The Debian installer RC1 already worked like a charm for me.That the installer performs DHCP discoveries is more a featureand does take only a couple of seconds, besides when it doesn’t find a DHCP server you have the opportunity to specify the IP-address,broadcast ,gateway and DNS server manually in the installer menu.Tip: try the windowmaker wm.In my country Debian has besides Fedora the greatest amount of mirrors.The dpkg front-end apt is a blessing.Latest stable 2.6 kernel is just a few clicks away,and indifferent flavors e.g.:i386,1686,k7.Complete with kernel-headers and the separate kernel-source so one doesn’t have to download thebig kernel-source package in order to install only the latest nvidia driver.keep up the good work 🙂 2004-10-02 1:01 pm Note that “boot-floppies” is the name of the old installer for Debian (for historical reasons). It doesn’t necessarily mean that your using floppies, though. The new installer is simply known as “Debian Installer”.I doubt anyone will hack boot-floppies to install Sarge, so in that sense boot-floppies is going away (although you can of course install Woody with boot-floppies). D-i supports installing from floppies, so in that sense, boot floppies aren’t going away But regarding memory requirements, Woody (boot-floppies) requires 12 MiB, but IIRC at least Slink could be installed on systems with as little as 4 MiB, if you used a special version of boot-floppies. 2004-10-02 1:05 pm Thank you so much for pointing me to that FAQs! 2004-10-02 1:29 pm Another little trick: Disconnect the ethernet cable at the beginning of the installation and enter your static data after no DHCP was found. After that, reconnect. 2004-10-02 1:36 pm So what was the justification for forcing the user to install both KDE and Gnome, if they chose to run Tasksel? 2004-10-02 1:47 pm No to pretty to look at for 15 or so minutes that the installation lasts when you are working of a 21″ or 23″ CRT.In comparison to Mandrake, Suse and RedHat, they atleast could have developed an framebuffer installation in different modes depending on your video detection outcome.Cheers. 2004-10-02 1:48 pm I don’t mind a text installer. The windows installer also starts in text mode, and it spends a very long time detecting hardware there.There is nothing wrong with a text interface as long as it is simple. Stuff like hardware detection and detection of other OSes on the disk is much more important than eyecandy at this stage. 2004-10-02 1:57 pm The curses-installer may not look that great to a newbie, but since its modular it means that you are free to make a GUI-frontend as you wish 2004-10-02 2:32 pm RC1 worked great on three different pcs and on a powerbook. Great job Debian team. 2004-10-02 3:26 pm Huh? I installed the Pure64 port two days ago, xfree wasn’t installed by default. Granted I used the ‘expert26’ boot parameter, but I don’t recall being forced into a DE when loading the same OS into my notebook a few weeks earlier without. After that Debian has a huge choice of WMs. Where do you get the force DE part? 2004-10-02 3:29 pm Apparently you’ve never installed 2k or XP and seen how the Microsoft install begins. Regardless, it’s like mewling about the container your new car acrossed the ocean in. 2004-10-02 3:33 pm Yeah but you chose aptitude/APT right? I’m talking about Tasksel.http://www.linuxbeta.com/slideshows/slideshow.php?release=135&slide… 2004-10-02 3:50 pm I wasn’t expecting “Desktop” Tasksel entry to install GNOME AND KDE (more than 1 GB) on my partition that isn’t even 500mb. Actually I was expecting GNUstep to be installed (fitting nicely into 100mb) but i guess i’m naive. http://www.gnustep.org/ 2004-10-02 5:16 pm because of debconf a gui installer is extremely hard to write – Debian simply asks WAY to many questions and requires all together to much feedback. Ubuntu seems to be a step in the right direction, forcing a bit of choice away the user is actually a good idea, for everyone involved.But please do wake me when they consider a GUI installer needed, even as an alternative to the ncurses one, I’ve been saying this since 1999 so I’m not really expecting it to change anytime soon though. 2004-10-02 5:51 pm 1) Debian installer is consistant across something like 12 platforms.2) Installer (Anaconda) is GPL’d. It is free.3) BSD code is still Free Forever (the orginal) but not the commercial / modified versions. Remember Suns orginal OS named SunOS. Eventually it became Solaris after the purchase of the AT&T code base. However, look at what Sun has done: a) Released NIS b) Released NFS c) Working on releasing Java (still has their QA stamp of approval) d) Opening up Solaris to the mass. e) What about Apple releasing their source code (Darwin). The only thing missing is the graphical display (for the most part). Believe it or not, companies do give back to the community under the BSD license.There is nothing wrong with the Anaconda installer, nor with the BSD License. Do you realise that their is more than one GPL, like the LGPL how about the document release of the GPL? Some of the other versions of the GPL are more corporate friendly. I dont hear any complaint about the business friendly versions of the GPL. Why is that?Graphical installers vs text based installers: the same information is their no matter how you wrap it up. If you dont like the installer:1) write your own2) release it under GPL not BSDJMHO.Disclaimer, I am a *BSD and Debian user. 2004-10-02 6:16 pm I like this installer overall.As long as the explanations/tips are straight forward in every step, with no cryptic language, then it is all good. And there is no need for GUI that early in the process.A couple of points:1) A newcomer may need some more info with the choices of the Xserver screen. How should the user know to choose “vesa” over the other choices ?2) The exim v4 configuration has some ambiguity. It discribes a first system and a second system and then says “… you can choose to receive mail on such a system”.Is it refering to the first or to the second? This may sound ambiguous to a newcomer. 2004-10-02 6:51 pm CD’s are cheaper. Though how about using a bootable USB thumbdrive?Never thought about the USB thumbdrive but its a non-option on my old thinkpad that lives under the bed, but that is an interesting option for my main machine.Of course I haven’t bought floppies in years, but like most people have tons of them still lying around. 2004-10-02 7:35 pm <i No to pretty to look at for 15 or so minutes that the installation lasts when you are working of a 21″ or 23″ CRT.In comparison to Mandrake, Suse and RedHat, they atleast could have developed an framebuffer installation in different modes depending on your video detection outcome.Cheers.[/i]“linux vga=0x318” at the boot prompt works for me fine. 2004-10-02 7:44 pm Does that still exist and do you have a URL? I enjoy things like that, and am already using the libcaca ports of SDL and xine. 2004-10-02 8:41 pm It says that the new d-i will install with as little as 24mb of RAM. Given debian’s commitment of running on archaic hardware, I hope boot-floppies.I agree with your point. Currently, you could use the old installer to install e.g. Sarge. Not sure on future versions. And you don’t have to use floppies, sometimes TFTP is more practical. For example because some systems don’t support booting from floppies (some SPARCs for example). 2004-10-03 4:16 am I just installed 2 days ago using DI RC1 and it was most exellent. It’s *so* nice to have hardware detection. Go D-I team!Though, I’m confused: my Sarge system has discover, kudzu, *and* hotplug all installed… Who’s actually doing the hardware detection? Should we even use modconf anymore? 2004-10-03 8:26 am well, this looks like the installer Ubuntu have been using in their preview release. comparing against mandrake (one of the main distros known for a “decent-looking GUI installer”), i have to say i VASTLY preferred this way of doing it. part of that comes down to the fact that i don’t have to spend 30 minutes manually selecting packages, due to decent defaults, but it also configured the network smoothly, and gave sensible choices and clear options at every stage. as with every linux install there’s the dreaded partioning stage to deal with, but i’ve had enough of mandrake, so just ran it over the top of mandrake’s partitions (/usr, /root, /swap, /home) and that was that. piece of cake. great work. 2004-10-03 11:51 am Err. STUPID! That’s not the way to convert people to NetBSD (though I do like and use it)! Actually, the NetBSD installer does not do too much of hardware detection (as in setting up mount points for your USB stick, for example).I tried the previous version of Debian Installer. I hope this new version makes it possible to remove LVM after you have activated it… 2004-10-03 1:00 pm I, for one, praise our new installer overlords!– Kernel 2.6– Suport many, many languages– Autodetects most of the hardware– DHCP or Manual net configuration– Gets your hostname from DNS, if avaliable– RAID and LVM– XFS, JFS and ReiserFS– Auto-patition tools for newbies– GRUB– More…And, it “Just Works”(tm). Better, you can customize it to your needs! Check http://www.skolelinux.org/ for an example.If I could say only one good thing about the Debian Installer, is that they are not concerned about how good it looks, they are concerned about how to make it work better, and to support more hardware. 2004-10-03 3:36 pm I don’t know what discover does, but kudzu and hotplug don’t really do the same job. Kudzu discovers and configures new “static” type hardware on boot – graphics cards, that kind of stuff. hotplug watches hotpluggable hardware (and interface points) not just on boot but *all the time* – USB ports and so on. Hotplug would never detect your new graphics card, and kudzu wouldn’t do anything if you plugged in a USB key two days after you last booted the machine. 2004-10-03 5:14 pm BeOS: OS installer, done right 😉 2004-10-03 6:01 pm BeOS: OS installer, done right 😉If you want to be really technical, DOS probably had the easiest to use installer:A> sys C:😉—–Now to get back on topic…this installer looks like a huge improvement, can’t wait to try this thing out on my AlphaServer once Sarge is officially released. Debian and NetBSD are the only two free OSes that support this machine well at all. 2004-10-03 6:44 pm “I wasn’t expecting “Desktop” Tasksel entry to install GNOME AND KDE ”Why not? They’re the de-facto standard Desktop Environments for Linux. You were expecting a fringe environment on a simple instalation method? That’s ridiculous. Want something different? Don’t use Tasksel. According to the Debian Installation Manual: http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/ch-init-config.en.html#s… “This technique offers you a number of pre-rolled software configurations offered by Debian. You could always choose, package by package, what you want to install on your new machine. This is the purpose of the dselect program” Perhaps you should RTFM a bit before trying something you don’t know. 2004-10-03 6:57 pm I for one like the old installer better. much more flexible. i’ve used boot floppies only for my last 7 installs and installed the base system via network. heck i was forced to do that with my laptop, seeing as it has no cdrom drive. people should quit complaining about debian’s installer. it does precisely what it needs to do and gives you control over the install process. that’s what real linux users need. that’s why i only run debian on my servers. redhat ‘server’ installs are huge and mostly unnecessary. with debian i can have apache + php serving up my stuff at under 300MB on disk. lets see mandrake or red hat try that. 2004-10-03 8:26 pm “Graphical installers vs text based installers: the same information is their no matter how you wrap it up.”Oh great, I clearly say some examples of what you can’t represent texturally, and then you go and pave over it with this dumb sentence.You’re clearly not a usability person and you’re thinking you can comment. It’s not just visual. All usability studies show that text interfaces suffer from all kinds of problems (mouse support, language support, icons to prompt users, etc).If hardware limitations are the cause of this, then ok, but this doesn’t mean text was a desired interface.People have moved away from text interfaces because they have so many problems. It’s not a superficial thing where the same information is represented. Different information is represented, and this interface looks like the lowest common denominator. 2004-10-03 8:30 pm AdamW wrote:> I don’t know what discover does, but kudzu and hotplug> don’t really do the same job.Thanks Adam. Since posting I’ve read-up a bit, and it looks like discover and kudzu are very similar. discover is more passive and is typcially used for debian-based systems, and kudzu is used more often for redhat-based systems.So it’s either usually: (kudzu + hotplug) or else (discover + hotplug).I made a few small updates to the LQ page on the matterhttp://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Discover (see the links on that page)See alsohttp://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Hardware_configurationIncidentally, with my default Sarge (RC1) install, it looks like the D-I used discover during the install process, but then discover is not used at boot-time thereafter (though I bet it’s available if needed for certain packages when you install them later on).Btw, “apt-get install sysvconfig” (which seems to be a replacement for rcconf) and run it to turn discover on or off. 2004-10-03 11:32 pm I like the new installer,works good and is simple, much better then the old one.-Nex6 2004-10-04 12:20 am http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/gtk-frontend 2004-10-04 3:02 am It’s silly for tasksel to install both environments. It should have a submenu asking which of the two DEs (or “fringe” DEs/WMs like my beloved Xfce) to install. Utilizing checkboxes, mind, not radio buttons. 2004-10-04 3:19 am Mandrake and Redhat definately can’t stay below 300mb. But Slackware probably can. I run Slackware on my servers, quite nice. I’ll try Debian soon though. 2004-10-04 6:31 am that’s not 100% right. not every usability-study claims that text interfaces are “worse” than graphical.while it is clear that “average” users respond to strong visuals it is also clear (can’t remember in which usability study i read this, sorry) that a simple text interface with a reasonable layout can be easier to use especially when dealing with decisions:“press (a) to do XY, press (b) to do Z, press ESC to abort”some operations are simply not possible with a GUI: try to rename 15000 files that contain XY and were created between X and Y. you won’t be able to do such things with a GUI but you can do this with one combined bash-command…and there is another thing: installing an OS is not the users task (you don’t build your desk or your seat from spare parts @work either!).(by the way: i’m NOT into computer science. in fact, i’m a sociologist… 😉 ) 2004-10-04 6:01 pm mdk has a minimal install option which was under 300MB last time I checked. to be honest, though, if you want a tiny distro, it’s probably best to go with one of the ones that’s specifically designed to be tiny. Specialised distros are one reason Linux is good, after all. 2004-10-04 6:20 pm actually, there’s no reason a GUI file manager couldn’t implement that reasonably easily. It *is* perfectly possible for GUI tools to do mass renames – the audio file tag editor easytag, for instance, can convert an entire tree of music files in the format 01_bobs_great_song.mp3 to “Track 1 – Bobs Great Song.mp3”, or vice versa, or any other similar transformation. A file manager could implement the kind of functionality you suggest with something similar to a spreadsheet’s filtering function. It’d be interesting to see how well it worked. 2004-10-05 1:19 am That’s probably more a GUI vs command line thing, not text GUI vs pixel GUI. Kinda like multi-choice vs freeform.I completely agree that text interfaces can be simpler sometimes 2004-10-05 1:45 pm I wasn’t able to get software raid1 support working with RC1. I hope that this new version fixes that.Cheers.