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Re: SEUL: Observatons

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   Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 18:44:28 -0500
   From: Michael Peck <mjpeck@mailhost.rsn.hp.com>
   Organization: Hewlett-Packard
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   jfm2@club-internet.fr wrote:

   > Before XFree 3.3 the best seller Matrox Mystique was only capable of
   > 320x200 with the VGA server.  It is difficult to do anything decent
   > with that.  Also the process of configuring X is tricky and we should
   > not be forced to rely on it.  But perhaps that could be solved with a
   > two phase config: in the install phase with ask the user the minimum
   > ans install the SPECIFIC server (not VGA) with the 640x480 resolution
   > and low refresh rates who is granted to not fry the monitor and we use
   > that during install.  Then when installation is complete we can make a
   > complete config of X (the user has now Linux installed so it is not
   > dependent on X working so he is less prone to lose his nerves and do
   > stupid things or just abandon hope) and if it works we configure Linux
   > for booting to XDM, if it does not work then Linux will boot in text
   > mode.

   I'm not a video-technology expert, but Windows 95 and NT manage just
   fine with a 640x480 SVGA install mode on every computer I've ever seen.
   If there are exceptions, they'll be allowed to do a curses-based
   install. Other than that, X will work just fine.

Yes.  But XFree 3.2 was unable to do more than 320x200 with the
Mystique until Jean Loup Gailly (he is the author of gzip) discovered
a trick for making it work at 640x480.

I had a Mystique at that time so I used the trick.

   > It is just for installation than we would use curses, my goal is than
   > when rebooting the user will log to XDM.  I am not against an X
   > install but I do not want we try to develop one until we have a curses
   > install as a backup solution.

   What does XDM have to do with it?

If we go for user friendliness then the user must be dropped into X

   > RedHat 2 used an X install.  They reverted to curses.  In part due to
   > the difficulty of mantaining the X install along the curses based one
   > they used for backup solution.  In part because at that time most
   > people had 8 Megs machines who paginated for hours with the X install.

   Doubtful. I installed RedHat 2 on a few machines, all of which had 8MB
   of RAM, and none of which "paginated for hours". The real weakness in
   RH2's X install was its inclusion of a very poor X configurator and its
   attempt to achieve optimal resolutions and depths with any ol' card.
   Instead, we should go SVGA for the install and make the (very complex)
   task of optimizing X performance a separate configuration tool, separate
   from the installation.

About three hours in my 8 meg 386DX40 with double speed CD reader.
Only 1 hour with later curses based versions so the CD reader was not
the culprit.  And I noticed than disk activity was a lot higher than
with curses installations.  That points to paging activity.  This
would not be a problem with newer machines.

   > No.  If you try making a full blown X config with high resolutions and
   > refresh rates chances are that something will not work so the user
   > will not be able to install anything.  If you want an X config then:
   > ask the user what brand is his card, what keyboard he is using and
   > what mouse (or use mouseonfig to detect it) then install the specific
   > server and start it at 640x480 with no hardware panning (it confuses
   > beginners).

   SEUL should not attempt to get an optimal X server configured at
   install-time. It should run an SVGA server at 640x480 and leave it at
   that until the OS is on the box and can boot. This is extremely
   achievable, so much so that curses shouldn't really be considered.

Of course we have to go for an X based install but when you travel by
ship you will notice than it has boats to save the crew in case the
main ship sinks.  And XFree is still not unsinkable (unsupported

About SVGA: the trend is making the SVGA server able to work
with anything supported by XFree but I am not sure work is complete in
XFree 3.3.

			Jean Francois Martinez

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