[conspire] (forw) Re: Debian install gui

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Nov 2 14:50:28 PST 2006

----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2006 14:47:19 -0800
To: luv-main at luv.asn.au
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: Re: Debian install gui

Quoting Peter McMullen (peter at mcmullen.net.au):

> There was a thread running a while ago about the alleged difficulty of
> installing Debian, and much was mode of the lack of a GUI installer. 
> Actually it does exist, and has for a while. It has been updated for
> the Etch RC1, but it's a bit of a secret. If you burn the install ISO
> and boot, it looks the same as it always has, but if you type
> installgui instead of just hitting enter you get the new install
> interface. 
> Its a direct mapping of the old dialogue, so if you expect it to hook
> gparted to help with partitioning, get used to disappointment. The
> only significant difference, so far, is that it does sometimes ask
> multiple questions on one page - e.g., for password verification.

This illustrates yet again that, when less-technical users say "your
Linux distribution needs [foo]", they often mean something else entirely
-- or aren't really sure what they mean -- and have a bizarre tendency
to express themselves using code phrases.

That is, the code phrase "GUI installer" in this context usually turns
out to really have very little to do with graphics.  The speaker really
means "I want an OS installer that asks me very, very few questions and
does extensive hardware autoprobing."  I.e., (they believe) they want
completely automated installers, or as close as possible.

Old-timers may recall the antique debate point used by MS-Windows and
Macintoy OS users for years:  "Linux needs more applications."  After
hearing this for many years, I sat down with one of them, a longtime
Windows user, at a Linux desktop box and typed:

$ grep Package: /var/lib/apt/lists/*Packages | wc -l

I pointed out that the return value of 17,511 was the number of
currently available software packages, in that distribution.  Mr.
Windows said:  "Um, desktop productivity software, I mean."  So, I
showed the guy a list of the roughly dozen different full "office"
suites that were then available for x86 Linux systems.

RM:  A dozen.  How many are enough office suites?  Two dozen?  A hundred?
Mr. Windows:  Well, I _thought_ there weren't any at all.
RM:  And _why_ did you think that?
Mr. Windows:  Well, I looked on the shelves in my corner software store.
RM:  So, because you can't conceive of getting software any other way
     than in a separate, extra-cost retail package, you simply 
     _assumed_ that Linux "needs more applications".  By the way,
     how many office suites do _you_ use?
Mr. Windows:  {face turning red}  One.

Cheers,                 "Heedless of grammar, they all cried 'It's him!'"
Rick Moen                       -- R.H. Barham, _Misadventure at Margate_
rick at linuxmafia.com

----- End forwarded message -----

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