Subject: Re: Installing NetBSD experiences and help wanted
To: matthew sporleder <>
From: Jimmie Houchin <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 06/21/2005 22:25:58
matthew sporleder wrote:
> Spending a lot of resources on desktop install environments really
> takes focus away from real enterprise needs, such as unattended
> installs, net-installs, etc.

I don't know if it really takes a lot of resources or necessarily 
diverts resources from other areas. That might be so if someone who is 
doing something enterprise-like stops/pauses and creates said installer. 
However someone else who has opportunity and desire (itch) may step up 
to the plate and put a nice face on or in front of some of the existing 
tools. Someone who knows the tools necessary for configuration and 
installation and the process required. Who knows maybe someone reading 
conversations says yes, I'll scratch that itch. Who knows given enough 
time and no one else stepping up I might do it once I am familiar enough 
with the tools and process. But I'm not there yet.

The question for me is would the NetBSD community embrace or reject such 
an installer? Does it desire a friendly face on the install and 
configuration process? Especially if it didn't come at any cost to 
current resource (people) allocation. Hmm?

> However, the game of judging linux distros by their installers is a
> difficult one to avoid once you get started, so maybe a flashy
> installer for NetBSD would be a good idea just from an advocacy
> standpoint.

I think it would be a great idea from an advocacy standpoint. In my 
exploration I've read any number of posts of people claiming NetBSD as 
one of the harder OS installs. And that's a shame. NetBSD has a lot to 
offer people. When researching, I looked at the packages collection it 
looked mighty impressive. It even has things Debian, et al. don't. For 
example my favorite programming tool, Squeak. Squeak has a very free but 
odd little license from Apple. Therefore isn't considered "free" by the 
"free" or "open" software people. Ugh. Its freer than what they offer.

I think most any package Linux/*BSDs offer that NetBSD doesn't is 
probably due to resources. (naive assumption)
I believe an increasing user base could help here.

> It's not like the windows nt installers were very pretty.  :)

I have never seen but can imagine.

While a pretty (visually attractive) installer would be nice. A nice 
looking, functional and enabling installer is what in necessary.

I think an installer should enable any user who understands systems a 
least a modest amount or is at least willing to read the install docs 
offered by the installer the ability to install NetBSD on any supported 
hardware. This by definition rules out the people who only use the 
"click install" and play Tetris installers. If you can install Gentoo, 
Debian, FreeBSD, and yes Ubuntu, you should be able to install NetBSD. I 
think that is a desirable place to get to.

 >>Matthew Orgass wrote:
>>  Currently (at least last time I checked) sysinst does not do much and
>>uses the standard tools for most of the work.  It is already quite
>>possible to entirely ignore sysinst (I haven't used it for a long time and
>>never miss it).  Fdisk is a good example of my point (if it still works
>>the way it used to): the disk is partitioned with fdisk, but sysinst has a
>>separate interface to it.  The standard interface is not that bad, but if
>>a different interface is desired for install, then it is almost certainly
>>useful in other situations as well.  IMO, the "installer" should just be a
>>document, not a separate program.

As Matthew Orgass says, sysinstall doesn't do much.
Do most of the configuration and install tools have a commandline 
interface available? If so, I would think a pretty face would be 
infinitely doable by someone who knows the tools and the process.

Thanks for listening and engaging in this discussion.

I'm at work right now. Working late. :(
Or I'd be at home trying out the install.

But hopefully I'll get a chance tomorrow.