Sysinstall is still inadequate after all of these years
jonathan+freebsd-hackers at hst.org.za
Thu Jul 3 08:35:14 UTC 2008
I've picked out one or two of your complaints only.
On Thursday 03 July 2008 00:16, Curtis Penner wrote:
> Let us take this further.
> Let's compare BSD to the Linux install solutions. Well, lets not, Linux
> is so far ahead of BSD. Linux understands the user.
Really? I tried installing Kubuntu for my wife the other day. The installer
didn't invite me to configure networking (Ethernet, not wireless), and once
the base system was installed, I couldn't find either the appropriate option
to configure it, nor any help at all, never mind anything as useful as the
FreeBSD Handbook. Granted, that's partly through unfamiliarity with Linux,
but user-friendly? Hollow laugh.
> So what is wrong?
> When you do a system install it is like jumping back to the 80's. The
> front-end is like something from the DOS days.
Some of us do most of our installs on a serial console - even in the office,
it's much easier than digging out spare monitors and keyboards just to build
servers which are going to run headless anyway. It's pretty much essential on
a machine in a remote datacentre.
PLEASE, developers of shiny happy point-and-drool installers, give us new
options by all means, but don't take away my headless install! (There's at
least one blind sysadmin, on this list or possibly on -questions, who I
suspect would strongly agree with me).
> To add wireless (very common these day), you better set aside as much time
> or more as doing the initial install.
That was certainly true on the Kubuntu installation I did for my wife - I
never did work out which packages I needed to download from where. On my
FreeBSD 6.3 laptop, I put the network details in /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf.
The drivers are part of the GENERIC kernel, and it all Just Works. I can start
it manually by running wpa_supplicant followed by dhclient - I could just add
a single line to /etc/rc.conf which would do that for me automatically.
On a FreeBSD6 desktop/server, I put the network details in /etc/hostapd.conf,
a couple of lines in /etc/rc.conf (enabling hostapd, and bridging the
wireless card and the NIC), and loaded wlan_xauth in /boot/loader.conf (to
get WPA), and had an access point. If that took anywhere near as long as the
initial install that just shows how fast the initial install must have been!
> Given that the system is rock solid, you think more people would develop
> on it, at least secondarily. But no. Java - go fish.
The problem with Java is that until recently, Sun wouldn't give the FreeBSD
developers a licence to distribute it, so the ports system had to send each
user to Sun's website to download it, which was tedious to say the least.
By doing that, Sun put enough of a speed-bump in my way that I haven't
bothered with Java. Blame Sun for that, though, not FreeBSD.
> I am looking forward to a time when installing BSD is point and click
> with not much understanding of what is going on (unless I want to go
> advance and do special custom work).
It will be a nice-to-have option (and sooner rather than later: there are
people actively working on it). Just bear in mind it doesn't suit everyone.
Many of us run FreeBSD because its competitors don't give us the same level of
control over our systems. The downside of that is that we need to understand
a bit more about how it works than we need for Windows or MacOS X.
By all means try and make it easier to get started with FreeBSD - but not at
the expense of the level of control a skilled admin has.
I didn't mention Linux as a competitor because in my view, they are battling
with the same issue - at least that's what I conclude from the huge number of
distros across the spectrum from point-and-click installation for recovering
Windows users, to building your entire system from source.
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