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- From: Sean Middleditch <elanthis awesomeplay com>
- To: fedora-devel-list redhat com
- Subject: Re: vsftpd.conf
- Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 22:05:03 -0400
On Sun, 2004-09-12 at 02:44 +0100, Paul Trippett wrote:
> Dont you love it when you mention something at 1am without properly
> thinking something through :)
> > It shouldn't be required to ask questions to get a "bare bones" setup.
> I don't think we should rule out the large majority of people coming
> over from other OS's, these people being the "I know what I want to do
> and why I want to do it, but don't quite know how to do it".
> Realistically how often would you install a tcp service and leave it at
Who cares what other OSes do? If your reason is "other OSes do it,"
your reason, for lack of a better term, sucks. ;-)
> How many times have you heard someone say "I installed Linux, now what
> do i do?"
> Some people may like being asked questions while others do not, but it
> doesn't hurt to give people the option. There must be quite a few uses
> for more generalised post install package configuration tool which isn't
> just limited to vsftpd and this thread.
Yes, actually, it *DOES* hurt people to give them the option. You have
to ask questions about asking questions. You still end up with tons of
questions that the user has no clue about or doesn't care about and,
therefor, you get back answers that are most likely incorrect for what
the user really wants. You add a lot of complication for little gain
when other solutions exist.
> > If you want a system that asks a bazillion questions on install time,
> > doesn't guarantee they'll be translated, doesn't guarantee they'll be
> > phrased intelligibly, and has tons and tons of infrastructure developed
> > and maintained instead of just good configuration tools and intelligent
> > defaults, you should install the OS produced over at
> > http://www.debian.org.
> Last time I used apt on debian from the command line i remember it
> saying something along the lines of "The following packages need to be
> configured before the can be used, would you like to configure them
> now", not only does it tell you they need to be configured it also gives
> you the option to help you do it, nor does it break automated installs.
> Just like everything else Debian has its place and also has a pretty
> good "bare bones" install itself.
The debconf system has various priority levels for their questions. You
are forced to answer a "what priority of question do you want to answer"
question, and then lower-priority questions are ignored and a default
answer is used. A number of packages, however, abuse this system
heavily. The system also maps very poorly to a GUI. Packagers cannot
craft a clean, usable GUI, but instead must specify questions in a
rather abstract format so multiple frontends can handle it. They are
forced to deal with a lowest common denominator that functions pretty
poorly for every frontend.
The priority system is also entirely broken in concept. What is
important to one use is trivial to another. Many packages which are
merely dependencies have questions which must be answered, which
especially is confusing when they are pulled in due to some completely
unrelated package. (Yes, dependency chains *will* do that, when
packagers don't break up their packages appropriately, or application
authors make it impossible to break up the packages.)
When a novice user hits Install Everything, they get everything. Are
they really expected to be able to answer all the questions that come
up? Or do you expect the priority levels to give sensible defaults with
the user being able to change things later? If you picked the latter
(which you should've), then the question becomes, why the heck have the
infrastructure to ask questions at install time anyhow, when you
*already* have to ship a second solution and provide sensible defaults??
> I dont know why but not everyone likes trawling through man pages for
> half their waking day trying to get something to work.
There are better forms of documentation than man pages. If you think
the only options available are "ask questions at install" and "be a UNIX
guru," you are failing to think of a ton of options in between.
Fedora/RHEL already have some great server configuration utilities. A
new user just has to go to System Settings to find them. Tools exist
for Apache and Samba at least, and I know quite a few others exist.
More can be added. Along with good, clean, user-oriented documentation.
These solutions help both users during the initial install *and* helps
them down the road when they need to update or modify their settings.
Honestly, it isn't that much more "work" to install a package and click
on its config utility than it is to install the package and have a half-
assed config dialog popup. And the former solution solves far more
problems in a much better fashion.
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