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#1 2005-02-08 04:59:09

From: Frequent Flyer Underworld
Registered: 2004-03-23
Posts: 612

My adventures in FTP/Floppy installation...

First, let me say that I really don't pose any questions in the following commentary, but I make a few observations and offer a suggestion or two for the benefit of those who may follow in my footsteps, or for the higher powers that be who may read it.  Therefore, although my thread will be heavily content related to this particular forum, it might be better served in a beter place Mr. Moderator.  You be the judge.

Second, all the difficulties I lay out before you shortly, were in large part, already answered in prior posts and found with some persistent "search" digging.  I do stress persistent though...

Third, once you know what to avoid and look for with the current installer available, the FTP/Floppy install is really slick and I prefer it over the full blown ISO install.  I'm glad you guys made this option available.

Well, on with the show...

1. At first, I had some difficulty during the partitioning phase.  I was choosing "reiserfs" for all my partitions, but my 16MB "/boot" was giving me hell for the rest.  I kept getting the following error:

"reiserfs_create_journal: cannot create a journal of 8193 blocks w/18 offset on 3888 blocks."

The bottom line was, my partition was too small for reiserfs to write it's journal.  I easily bumped it up to 64MB and had no problem with that partition thereafter.  However, what did cause me problems later was going directly back to the partition entries and resizing them.  However, in doing so and going right back to see if it would work, a partition or two that had already passed would now fail, since it was already mounted from the prior succesful attempt.

Suggestion:  Maybe have the installer automatically umount all mounted partitions, except for the "ramdisk" and "tmpfs", unless you succesfully mount and create all of those fielsystems.  Of course, you can always umount them manually in another VC yourself.

2. I kept getting "could not dowload from (this or that) server" error messages.  See 1 and 3.  They were the causes for it.

3. The "Done" action bit me in the rear several times.  I kept getting errors like the following:

"could not extract gentoo-0.11.53-1/depends:
cannot resolve dependencies for "autoconf".
"mawk" is not in the package set."

Basically, pacman was not using my newly created partitions (with all that hunky real drive space), since it had not created them yet.  However, I could "exit" at any time.  Since I was tying to keep track of over 14 different partitions across 2 drives, while scrolling down to the bottom and keeping track of what I changed, it's easy to lose sight of a simple step like "Done" amidst 3-5 different reboots, (seemingly) hours of trial and error, and countless forum queries.  I know.  That's no excuse...but the time invested in determining the solution really added up.  Imagine someone trying out this distro for the first time and the opinions left behind.

Suggestion:  Much like other curses based installers, RedHat comes to mind, you do not have a dialog window with "Exit" or "Cancel" and some obscure "Done" item melded in with unrelated selection/action windows.  Instead, you either have to use the function keys to "apply" changes, or the linear "limitations" of their installer keeps you from progressing to the next, offering no "Exit" or "Cancel" dialog at all, maybe a "back" button at most.

Another alternative would keep the existing interface and add "check" boxes next to each action/selection item that has been succesfully completed ("[X]"), or left empty ("[ ]") if not.  Those would be filled in automatically by the installer, and the only dialog you would need to allow is "Exit".  If the user does "Exit" and all the check boxes are not filled, then do not even allow them to enter succesive menus thereafter.

Well, you get the hang of the installer after a while.  It would be nice if future Arch generations had a more "limited" installer which they didn't have to become too intimate with.  Overall, it's manageable as it is, and these are just minor "concerns".

I think I spent the better part of 2 hours just trying to figure out why I couldn't get past the next step.  It all stemmed from item 1 and snowballed thereafter.


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