VectorLinux

Cooking up the Treats => Distro development => Topic started by: M0E-lnx on June 21, 2007, 06:50:53 am

Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: M0E-lnx on June 21, 2007, 06:50:53 am
All I can ask for is this:

GUI INSTALLER PLEASE.

Whatever we do, I think we need to move away from the text installer now...
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: easuter on June 21, 2007, 07:36:38 am
All I can ask for is this:

GUI INSTALLER PLEASE.

Whatever we do, I think we need to move away from the text installer now...

Well actually, I'm more inclined to an option of text-based installer + graphical installer (where the user can chose either), but thats not up to me  ;)
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: lagagnon on June 21, 2007, 07:51:30 am
Whatever we do, I think we need to move away from the text installer now...
That's a great comment for soliciting lots of responses! I think we all know that everyone has an opinion on those matters. The only two advantages that I can see in a graphical installer are: 1) makes newbies slightly more comfortable during the install process (but what really throws newbies off, I believe, is not the installer type, but the concept of partitioning) and 2) it might look somewhat sexier.

The disadvantage of a graphical installer is the extra CD space such will consume, at the expense of other applications, particularly if we want to stick to CD's and not DVD's. I also wonder if a graphical installer won't be somewhat slower? I am SOOO impressed with the speed of a VL install. I can install VL58 SOHO from beginning to end on my AMD XP3200 box in under 12 minutes. That is truly amazing....
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Toe on June 21, 2007, 08:32:10 am
Quote
The installer said, it requires 4 GB for full install !  I took out some packages, leaving kde and just essential packages, it took 2.8 GB.
Ouch!  It's getting harder and harder to call VL a 'lightweight' distro these days.  The ISO for 5.8 Standard was over 40% larger than the one for 5.1 Std, even with the switch to TLZ!  Honestly though, I agree with the 'one app per function' philosophy.  "Keep it simple, keep it small and let the end user decide what their operating system is going to be."  Plus it keeps the menu less cluttered & simpler for newbies.
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: nightflier on June 21, 2007, 10:32:48 am
I think we need to move away from the text installer

I prefer the text installer. Keep it light, keep it fast, even if that means that the user has to do some of the work. It is not like it's something you're going to do every day. Yes, it requires a little more work to set up and configure, but you end up with your system, customized to your hardware and personal preferences. And it will not change until you decide to change it.

I am afraid that after a graphical installer, we'll move towards "I want everything to be point and click, and everything to be done for me automatically, like <insert flavor of *buntu>". To achieve this you need a whole little OS in the installer, hardware detection on each boot, all sorts of polling daemons and services. I see that as contrary to the VL philosophy.
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Toe on June 21, 2007, 01:32:28 pm
Helooooo slippery slope!

Quote
you end up with your system, customized to your hardware and personal preferences. And it will not change until you decide to change it.
That has nothing to do with text vs. graphical.  Just because we make a graphical installer, doesn't mean we can't do it the Vector way.  I fully expect the installer to look much like what we've had for quite a while with VASM: almost the exact same thing, whether you use GUI or text-mode.

That said, I think there's plenty of room for improvement even in the TUI installer.  There's gotta be a better text-mode partition manager out there than cfdisk, for example.
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: The Headacher on June 21, 2007, 03:03:44 pm
The only effort thus far I know of in this direction is Joe1962's installer, written in gambas. This will mean there needs to be a live environment with at least X running, and the gambas runtime (and it's dependencies) need to be loaded. This means a larger .iso, which would be quite problematic if we want to keep SOHO 6 a 1 CD distro (especially given Slacks new footprint). Unless we include less software. This would mean the ratio (useful software / iso size ) will drop quite a lot: bigger iso size for less software installed. It's probably slower too and more things can go wrong (you don't just need a working system, but also an autoconfigured X). Users with older computers might get into trouble trying to use X live.
What a deal.

Quote
I fully expect the installer to look much like what we've had for quite a while with VASM: almost the exact same thing, whether you use GUI or text-mode.
Well, in that case what's the point of using a graphical installer at all ???? I mean vasm in X works but it's not what you'd call more attractive than the cli version.
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: lagagnon on June 21, 2007, 03:05:40 pm
... Honestly though, I agree with the 'one app per function' philosophy.  "Keep it simple, keep it small...
I agree. But every time a new release comes up we get a flurry of requests to add this multimedia package over that multimedia package. Or put them all in (which we seem to have done with 5.8) - hell, we have xine, mplayer, amarok, KsCD, VLC and many others in SOHO, and it is almost as bloated for multimedia stuff in 5.8 Standard. My humble opinion of course....
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Kocil on June 21, 2007, 07:43:25 pm
About the GUI installer ... I tried Windows XP yesterday (I haven't installed WIndows for a long long time).
Guess what.
The installer is plain blue background and white text. Oh and some yellow on progress bar.
The GUI portion is not launched but after restarting.
I wonder if Microsoft also receives a lot of requests to upgrade the installer  ;)


Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: vector on June 21, 2007, 11:40:18 pm
my thoughts exactly..................anyone install XP from scratch lately?? they have been doing this for five years no complaints. Since we have such a divided camp on the installer how about a compromise text to get the packages installed gui for the final setup just an idea.............
vec
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: nightflier on June 22, 2007, 05:43:46 am
Would it be a big thing to add mouse support to the current installer? A GUI doesn't have to be X based.
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: easuter on June 22, 2007, 06:42:57 am
There is also the problem that having two separate installation modes (graphical and text) might require double the work testing... :-X :-\
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: retired1af on June 22, 2007, 07:19:39 am
Have to agree with lagagnon. I can reinstall VL SOHO on this box in under 15 minutes. I'm not sure that could be accomplished with a GUI installer.

One of the things I love about VL is it's simplicity, especially during the installation process.
Title: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: lagagnon on June 22, 2007, 07:51:36 am
I like the idea of mouse support in the text environment - easy enough to do with the gpm daemon, I believe.

As I hinted above in my last post on this thread maybe we could also add an option to the present text installer to completely take over the hard drive, automatically apportion 2X RAM for swap and stick everything else into one partition "/". In other words automatically partition the drive sort of like many other distros and Windows does. Then newbies do not have to worry about the partitioning process.

That sort of partitioning scares the daylights out of me but I do think a lot of newbies are put off by the partitioning process. Just an idea...I believe Joe1962 was going to have such an option in his graphical installer?
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: retired1af on June 22, 2007, 08:04:39 am
Hmmmmmmmmm, I'm not sure how that could work on a dual boot machine. I'd be afraid the automatic process would snag something that would be needed for the other OS on the system.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: M0E-lnx on June 22, 2007, 08:32:03 am
Heh... I was wondering about this... I didn't remember starting such a thread and as I looked, it turns out it's a split.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: newt on June 22, 2007, 10:05:34 am
gui installer is cute an all, but that's about it - period.  I like the ncurses installation routine just fine.  Adding more functionality to the routine could be beneficial in some sections (i.e. partitioning, hardware detection/choices, etc).  I've always wondered why there couldn't be a list of mice to choose from with some "generic" options included; even though many of the configurations would be identical in xorg.conf it sure make it easier on a user to select 'Logitech Cordless Click Plus' than '2 button mouse with wheel' but both options could still be available.

I vote for the text installer with some spruce-ups.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: MikeCindi on June 22, 2007, 10:28:27 am
I vote for the text installer with some spruce-ups.

here, here...
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: saulgoode on June 22, 2007, 10:59:40 am
While my personal preference is for text installers, I do recognize some benefits to GUI installers. The biggest advantage is that there's much better support for internationalization with the higher level programming environments associated with GUI.

I am not an expert in this area but it seems to me that options for text-only programming environments supporting i18n (and associated display of international charsets) are fairly limited and, to the extent they are available, have their own list of "non-universal" dependencies (libraries, bindings, fonts, etc) that is no less trivial than those of GUI-based programming tools. Because this i18n support is integrated into the development environment, the maintenance of code for a GUI installer should (at least in theory) be more straightforward than that for an equivalently internationalized text-only installer.

Even if the text-only tools for i18n are available and would not increase the level of "dependency hell", there is most assuredly a larger pool of potential contributors who would be familiar (or willing to become familiar) with the GUI development tools. I am sure it is possible to handle i18n with just BASH scripting, but the code would be rather non-standard and much less maintainable than a "higher level" approach (such as GAMBAS).

My personal preference -- being an English-speaking technophile who loves to see long lists of files being installed, hardware being probed, and whatever else minutiae that is happening on my 'puter -- is for text-only installation (CLI-based installation, truth be told). But, having said that, I feel that providing a mult-language GUI installer written in a higher level programming environment is better for the developers and maintainers of the distribution. As a fallback for cases where graphics hardware may not be supported, or even available, I would of course wish to have a text-only installer (and I think that "English only" might be a fair assumption for this alternative).



Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Toe on June 22, 2007, 04:51:13 pm
On the topic of partitioning, are there any better TUI options out there than cfdisk?  I did some searching a while back, and about all I could come up with was one called nParted.  It looks like it's no longer maintained, though I found a copy of it (with source) here (http://debian.speedblue.org/).  Perhaps it could be dusted off for VL?
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: lagagnon on June 22, 2007, 04:57:33 pm
Hmmmmmmmmm, I'm not sure how that could work on a dual boot machine. I'd be afraid the automatic process would snag something that would be needed for the other OS on the system.

Exactly. That's why I said auto partitioning scares me. But many newbies don't even realize you can actually have two or more OS's on the same hard drive. And they need to understand that means understanding the partitioning concept. It's a double edged sword: you get ease of install where the VL install takes over the entire hard drive and the newbie does not have to worry about partitions, but it also wipes the hard drive of whatever was on there previously. There would need to be a fairly forceful warning about that!
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on June 22, 2007, 05:05:09 pm
I am not an expert in this area but it seems to me that options for text-only programming environments supporting i18n (and associated display of international charsets) are fairly limited and, to the extent they are available, have their own list of "non-universal" dependencies (libraries, bindings, fonts, etc) that is no less trivial than those of GUI-based programming tools. Because this i18n support is integrated into the development environment, the maintenance of code for a GUI installer should (at least in theory) be more straightforward than that for an equivalently internationalized text-only installer.

I am strongly in favor of continuing the text-based install only. I can tell you from first hand experience that maintaining two versions of the same program is an incredible PITA. Graphical installers are generally not all that much more functional than text installers, and besides, the text installer is part of our character.

Indeed, the VL user base is a veritable Babel, but most of our users' native languages are simple left-to-right scripts that require no composition. That alone is easy to do with cdialog. Besides, the install is only a half hour chunk out of your life, not the whole user experience. Not to be an Anglocentric bigot (because I don't like that), but it is still practically essential to have some grasp of English to compute effectively, and I don't think many lose in the current arrangement.

What we should probably focus on more is providing good i18n as part of the everyday user experience. And we are doing a good job here already, even better with the release of VL 6.0 and i18n enabled VASM 2. :)

Text installer with some 'sprucing-up' is the way to go I think. (Re last post: I think cfdisk is sufficient.)
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Joe1962 on June 22, 2007, 05:08:21 pm
There would need to be a fairly forceful warning about that!
I, for one, was intending to... ;D
http://jjrweb.byethost.com/vl/dev/new-installer/images/partitions.png
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: rbistolfi on June 22, 2007, 05:32:04 pm
There would need to be a fairly forceful warning about that!
I, for one, was intending to... ;D
http://jjrweb.byethost.com/vl/dev/new-installer/images/partitions.png

That is what we call a warning  :D

About partitions, I am asking to myself if there is a way to offer multiple options like this:

1. The user will do everything.
2. Select one disk, the installer will do everything from here.
3. Select just one partition, the installer will take the control of it, convert them into linux partitions if needed, split it for swap, etc. (I dont know if this is doable).
4. I have some free space. The installer will take the free non-parted space. (Joe already has this option, I see).

I never seen #3, or I never noticed it. I always take #1, I dont trust in programmers  ;D
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on June 22, 2007, 05:37:37 pm
I never seen #3, or I never noticed it. I always take #1, I dont trust in programmers  ;D

Awww....
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: incognu on June 22, 2007, 10:57:00 pm
I'm happy with the text installer.  It's really easy to use, imo.  Very quick and intuitive.  It's not whether the installer is text or gui that makes it difficult or easy; it's how it's designed.

I don't think I've tried a distro with a graphical installer (wait, I think Suse had one a couple years ago; can't remember). 

There would need to be a fairly forceful warning about that!
I, for one, was intending to... ;D
http://jjrweb.byethost.com/vl/dev/new-installer/images/partitions.png

That is what we call a warning  :D
Indeed!  That's looking good.

Quote

About partitions, I am asking to myself if there is a way to offer multiple options like this:

1. The user will do everything.
2. Select one disk, the installer will do everything from here.
3. Select just one partition, the installer will take the control of it, convert them into linux partitions if needed, split it for swap, etc. (I dont know if this is doable).
4. I have some free space. The installer will take the free non-parted space. (Joe already has this option, I see).

I never seen #3, or I never noticed it. I always take #1, I dont trust in programmers  ;D

#1 here also!  I shudder at the thought of automatic partitioning!  I know what I want to do and how I want to do it.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: lagagnon on June 23, 2007, 07:37:14 am
Despite all this discussion we should remember that our friend Joe1962 has probably put in considerable efforts and hours of work into writing a Graphical Installer for VL in Gambas. I don't know how far he is along with it but we do have very few developers in VL and they all need our full support. Maybe we could hear from Joe as to how he feels, how much work has already been done and what impact on the size of the distro the graphical install would have?
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Joe1962 on June 23, 2007, 08:01:48 am
Thanks, Larry. The installer is still at a very early stage WRT fuctionality, but the conceptual design, logical flow and interface are mostly there, as far as possible at this stage, anyway. Some suporting functionality, like the multilanguage fdisk -l parser, is done too. Unfortunately, my time has been very limited lately due to work and also before that, my previous laptop had died, which left me unable to work on this for some time. Other VL projects like vl-hot, vcpufreq and the intense development phase of 5.8 Standard also took away my little remaining "free" time. My intention is to continue it regardless, as I believe it has interesting design differences to other installers I've seen.

The current state is that I have set up a Google Codes Project for it and am trying to get it running on Gambas2-1.9.49 (differences between that and the 1.9.47 I was using break the code), before uploading the base source to the subversion repo there. Luckily I seem to have inspired several more Gambas developers in the VL community (a fact which makes me very happy), and some have already expressed their willingness to help out in the project. Guess it's up to me to find some time to get it running in latest Gambas2 now, then get the ball rolling again.

About the iso size impact, Uelsk8s is the best person to answer that. Probably just as important, if not more, is the issue of getting xorg to run reliably from the install environment on all the different hardware out there.


EDIT: oops, forgot the project link: http://code.google.com/p/vinstall-ng/
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: blurymind on June 23, 2007, 08:28:01 am
All I can ask for is this:

GUI INSTALLER PLEASE.

Whatever we do, I think we need to move away from the text installer now...
i vote to have both. Keep the old installer,while having the option to start the gui installer with a command,or boot menu entry.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: rbistolfi on June 23, 2007, 10:43:59 am
I never seen #3, or I never noticed it. I always take #1, I dont trust in programmers  ;D

Awww....

 ;D There is a few exeptions...

Joe, you are doing a great job! I think you are rigth about the true problem is not the iso size, but to have an x-server up on every machine. Is a live enviroment needed to run the gui installer? I see all the *buntus install disks are live, with very few software by default. I dont like it.
Using the vesa driver for the install will work on almost every machine?
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: incognu on June 23, 2007, 05:33:01 pm
Despite all this discussion we should remember that our friend Joe1962 has probably put in considerable efforts and hours of work into writing a Graphical Installer for VL in Gambas. I don't know how far he is along with it but we do have very few developers in VL and they all need our full support.
...

True ... this is the first time I've looked at the gui installer development:  http://jjrweb.byethost.com/vl/dev/new-installer/  Great work, Joe1962! That's really looking impressive.  Though I'm very comfortable using text installers, this looks like an excellent addition. The more I look at those screenies, the better I like the idea.  I'm starting to want to see this (http://jjrweb.byethost.com/vl/dev/new-installer/images/go-for-it.png) for real!

I agree with blurymind ... having both available would be ideal.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: GrannyGeek on June 23, 2007, 09:08:40 pm
I'm very happy with the text installer but would have no objections to a GUI installer like Joe1962's. I also like cfdisk. However, it assumes the user understands something about partitioning, and I'm sure many do not. People *should* understand something about partitioning, it's pretty basic once you get beyond newbie-level computing, but getting a crash course while you're installing your first Linux may not be the best time for it.<g>

Many distros have an automatic "take over the drive" option. Often it's the default, which I think is rather dangerous. No matter what sort of warning you put up, some people aren't going to realize that using the "take over the drive" option will wipe out their Windows. Then they get all huffy over Linux wrecking their Windows. Also, consider the size of drives these days. Unless you're really committed to a single operating system (including a single Linux distro), I wonder if you really want to have 500 gigs devoted to it. And automatically making a swap partition of two times RAM? Hey--I have 3 gigs on my main desktop. Do I need 6 GIGS for swap?? (I have 512 megs.)

I don't think there's an easy answer to the partitioning conundrum. I do think that part of the installation needs to be made easier, however.
--GrannyGeek
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Joe1962 on June 24, 2007, 01:26:39 pm
Finally figured out what the problem was. The html text in the TextLabel components. Those are like the one with the "Warning"... ::). It was working ok in 1.9.47. Sent an email to the gambas maling list and am hoping for a solution. We wouldn't want that particular warning in plain text now, would we?... ;D
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: easuter on June 24, 2007, 02:03:02 pm
Finally figured out what the problem was. The html text in the TextLabel components. Those are like the one with the "Warning"... ::). It was working ok in 1.9.47. Sent an email to the gambas maling list and am hoping for a solution. We wouldn't want that particular warning in plain text now, would we?... ;D

Cool!  ;D

I've only been using Gambas for a few months, and I'm already as impatient as hell for Gambas 2.0 to be released...
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Kocil on June 24, 2007, 07:36:46 pm
I have another idea, ....

How about making a "GUI distro installer, partitioning and rescue Live Flashdisk" ?
Kinda a cross of Puppy linux and Rescue CD.
We can put everything in it from xorg, qt, gtk, gtkmm, qtparted, gparted, k3b, the GUI installer of course,
even a music player to listen some music (or propaganda) while the distro is installing
(I guess it would take longer than using the text installer, right ?).

To install VL, boot from the USB, put in the VL-CD, there we go ....

The advantages:
- You got the GUI installer in the live FD, text installer in the CD.
- The live FD installer will be generic, you can use that for any version/flavour of VL
- You don't have to download the installer again and again just to try STD, SOHO, Dynamite, etc ... (worth 100 MB at least)
- The VL CD only contains the text installer (only 2 MB, save 98 MB for each CD / ISO file).
- Of course the live FD can install an ISO file too, just put it in the harddisk first (save burning a CD).



Title: Memory Requirement
Post by: Kocil on June 24, 2007, 07:54:12 pm
I would like to mentions that VL uses the lzma with maximum compression for the tarballs (-9),
while using the good compression (-7) for the pakages.
The memory requirement is ... (http://www.advancedinstaller.com/user-guide/lzma-compression.html)
# Best
    * Compressing Speed: 1.6 MB/s
    * Decompressing Speed: 15 MB/s
    * Memory for Compressing: 709 MB
    * Memory for Decompressing: 66 MB

So please consider that, if you are going to use GUI installer.

Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Toe on June 24, 2007, 09:02:19 pm
Yikes, what's the official minimum req for RAM in VL these days?  The 18 MB decompressing memory for the next step below looks a hell of a lot friendlier.  And from what recall of my own 7zip testing a few years ago, the size advantage above 'normal' is pretty tiny relative to the increase in processing power needed. 

(I tested like half a dozen different compression programs on various settings, and decided on 7zip/lzma on normal for best compression with decent speed, 7z on fast for a good balance of speed & size, and gzip on normal for raw speed with decent compression).
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on June 25, 2007, 06:18:20 am
Also:

Maintaining two different installers will be a huge pain.

(Please) stay with text installer sez I.
Title: Re: Graphical versus Text Installer
Post by: edwinsage on July 07, 2007, 10:46:59 am
I have another idea, ....

How about making a "GUI distro installer, partitioning and rescue Live Flashdisk" ?
Kinda a cross of Puppy linux and Rescue CD.
We can put everything in it from xorg, qt, gtk, gtkmm, qtparted, gparted, k3b, the GUI installer of course,
even a music player to listen some music (or propaganda) while the distro is installing
(I guess it would take longer than using the text installer, right ?).

To install VL, boot from the USB, put in the VL-CD, there we go ....

The advantages:
- You got the GUI installer in the live FD, text installer in the CD.
- The live FD installer will be generic, you can use that for any version/flavour of VL
- You don't have to download the installer again and again just to try STD, SOHO, Dynamite, etc ... (worth 100 MB at least)
- The VL CD only contains the text installer (only 2 MB, save 98 MB for each CD / ISO file).
- Of course the live FD can install an ISO file too, just put it in the harddisk first (save burning a CD).





That sounds like a wonderful idea to me.  Some of the stuff seems a bit extraneous, such as the music player which strikes me as silly, but it's good to bring up all the ideas that you get.  I'm slightly concerned that users with older hardware that can't boot USB would be left out, but there may be some ways around it.