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Re: SEUL: Partitioning

On Sun, 29 Jun 1997, Erik Walthinsen wrote:

> > I know that we aren't supposed to know what a SEUL-CD is at this stage, but
> > if the base SEUL filesystem is in a file on CD, it could be copied to the
> > DOS drive (if a user cannot do this, then they should not be attempting to
> > run Linux, IMHO, although a setup program could be provided). This means
> > that the generic Linux system is installed before Linux is even booted,
> > which _removes_ the need for boot+root disks (something which I would love
> > to see, although Debian is supposed to boot from CD). Once Linux has been
> > booted from this file, all the optional components can be installed.
> OK, we're back on the CD thing again, but in some sense it may be time (at 
> least limited to this particular thread):
> If we're going to have a live filesystem residing on the/a CD, why bother even 
> making them copy it over to the HD for a trial run?  There are only a few 

Because CD-ROM is a read-only media, and using the Slackware method of
symlinks still requires some sort of Linux filesystem on the HD. Anyway, the
point is to have the install programs and everything one would find on the
boot/root/rescue disks, plus extras to make it easier to use, in one
loopback file which is then copied to the HD, and filled out with enough
zero space to make room for everything else which gets installed. This
removes the size limits on the boot/root disks (RedHat doesn't even have
/dev/*, which makes life very difficult), and also means that Linux is
installed from the very first step. The rest of the installation process
just adds the icing to the cake (although there will be a _lot_ of icing on
this cake).

> (countable on one hand) CD-ROM drives out there that don't work under Linux, 
> in which case we'll have to provide tools under DOS (eew!!) to copy over the 
> live filesystem components needed.  (aside: we need to [eventually] provide 
> tools for all contingencies if we plan to support older hardware.  Otherwise 
> we start adopting some of M$'s policies: "It's supported, but you'll have to 
> do this, this, and that to get it working, and oh, you'll need new hardware")

This comes down to scanning Windows/DOS config files, and hoping that the
kernel developers have put that kitchen sink in the kernel.

> Basically, we have them put the CD in the drive under Winblows95, 
> autowhatever.inf starts up the nifty-cool Windoze version of the install, 
> operating in TRIAL MODE (as stated loudly by the splash screen), it copies 

Not necessarily trial mode, it could be a full system on loopback; how

* TRIAL MODE		small filesystem with basics BUT still enough there
		to look good and make the user WANT LINUX
* Standard install	puts a medium-sized loopback file on the drive
* Full install		uses a massive loopback file

> over a basic loopback root, does some evil/disgusting magic to pseudo-mount 
> the filesystem to change a few config files (told ya it's evil/disgusting), 
> provide the means to boot the system, and let them at it.  loadlin would load 
> the kernel, start in initloop-root mode, look for the CD, prompting the user 
> if necessary, and off they go.  They have all the packages installed, they 
> have /var and /home space to maintain their personal config, and they can 
> de-install at any time using the normal Windoze methods.

Sounds about right, although that evil/disgusting bit worries me :-)
It could even be added to the Windows95 uninstall list.

> Yes, this puts Linux at the mercy of M$, as users will think it's a nifty app 
> and not a replacement, but this is where the utter coolness of SEUL and lots 
> of marketing/propaganda (hate that word) and user education: "SEUL is a 
> *replacement* for Windoze 95 that's so carefully crafted you can try it out 
> RISK-FREE without disturbing your existing system!"

The idea is to make people think it _is_ a nifty app, and not want to go
back to Win95.

> This brings up yet another interesting point (new acronym: YAIP).  If we're 
> going to lean towards this "trial" thing, our installation system and manuals 
> must be set up to deal with this, which will take a lot of planning.  I would 
> hate to see 4 different CD's of SEUL built with different options: 
> really-dumb-user trial, clueful-user trial, really-dumb-user Standard Edition, 
> and clueful-user Standard Edition.  *ONE* distrib should be able to figure out 
> and/or ask what kindof install is requested, allow the user to change from 
> trial to full install, from clueless-mode to clueful-mode, even graduate to 
> maintaining the system without any help from SEUL's tools.

Agreed - the trial/full install should be well integrated, and a firm
upgrade path should be available.

Just a few extra comments on the distrib as a whole:

* Upgrades

An upgrade path should be provided that is so well defined and laid out that
anyone can go from SEUL v1.0 to v9.9 without a single problem or missing
package, and without losing the config files.

* Speed

Windows-dressing is very nice, but if we want to attract the marks, SEUL
needs to go faster than DOS on acid - if it's not running at twice the speed
of Win95 on a comparable system, then something is wrong.

Thomas Molesworth            (thomas@bass.almac.co.uk)

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