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Re: SEUL: Debian versus RedHat and DPKG versus RPM
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From: email@example.com (Bill Thanis)
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 17:43:18 -0400
> like that. Debian's implied assumption is than YOU will customize
> your software. So IMHO for a beginner Debian 1.0 and 1.2 were,
> despite a few good points like DPKG, still harder to use than
It sounds like what Debian 1.2 didn't do is provide the tools to customize
your software. Remember we are talking about two totally different processes:
transfering software ont a hard drive; configure software to be useable.
I have installed few packages that has the second part convienent. IMHO,
we really should be asking ourselves what we should do to make configuring
a software package easier. None of our users will care which packaging system
is used, if the software is installed unconfigured.
Software for SEUL must come ready to use, not ready to be customized.
> Besides they are a lot of good ideas to pick. So far, nobody has
> bothered to spend an afternoon in writing a review. Debian users have
> been very vocal to say we will have to use Debian but none wrote a
> review to say why he thinks his brother/sister (the one who has
> problems with W95) will be able to survive to Debian 1.3 better than
> to other distributions.
> Now, remember than the more user hostile is the distribution we will
> base upon the more work we will have to do, the later SEUL will be
> issued and the less features it will have because we will have spent
> our time in fixing easiness problems instead of making progress.
This is a falsy. Making a distribution user friendly has nothing
to do with how it is installed. Consider the simple case of having
an image of the entire drive on a CD that is dd to a partition that
is big enough. All you need is a boot disk that runs one program that
checks for the size of a hard drive. If big enough, run fdisk script,
a format script, and dd, then reboot into a configure screen, prompting
for input for machine specific stuff. From the point of view of the user,
this is the simplest install possible. This is also the install used by win95.
What the resultant system used by the user really has nothing to do with
User friendliness is much more than a good install. Consider this, we
have an entirely automatic install where the user has only to put a
CD in the driver. And now what?
In Debian 1.2 X menus are minimal so it is xterm for him. A beginner
does not fare well in an xterm.
In RedHat 4 nearly everything can be started with the WM menus.
When a beginner clicks on a menu he expects something happen, if the
program shows in the menus despite being uninstalled or the opposite
he will be confused. RedHAt 4 and LST have auto-updatable menus: when
you start the WM, menus are built on the base of what is installed so
they are never ghost or misssing entries.
Sometimes a program started by the WM writes a message to stderr to
tell something is wrong, unfortunately in most distributions it goes
to the text console so you only see it when you stop X and our
beginner is left wondering why in the hell that window disappeared or
that program failed to start. In LST the WM intercepts the program
message and shows it to the user in an xmessage window.
If you start from a distribution with poor, no automatically updated
menus, no xmessages like Debian then we will lose a lot of time
how it is installed. How things are installed concerns people who are creating
upgrades for an existing system. In the windows world the answer to how things
are installed has been to let the software being installed handle the installation.
Depending on the design of SEUL, this may be an acceptable method.
I believe that the choice of an installer should be made after some minimal system
is put together. An installation could be rolled together for each of the packagers
and an answer given about which would best be used.
If we take distribution X as the base that means than at least 70 to
80% of SEUL packages will come from X (perhaps with minor tweakings)
so unless than we are glutton for punishemnt the natural decision is
to use the same packaging system instead of rolling them in an entiely
different format. In fact you could be led to choose its packaging
system even in the case the Y format is markedly superior. And in
past months RPM has made steady progress (it got dependencies) so the
technological edge of DPKG is now a lot smaller than a year ago.
Jean Francois Martinez
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