new sysinstall

Matthew Dillon dillon at
Sun Aug 24 10:59:10 PDT 2003

:>That is an interesting point but don't we already kind of
:>have a running system when we first boot a CD?  Doesn't the
:>kernel on the CD already "work" if we make it to the installer?
:>If so... what is the purpose of installing a really small
:>installation to install the full installation?
:Booting from the CD is not a *usable* system, it is only a
:bootable system -- and one that is on a read-only device.
:During my first freebsd install, I was overly impressed by
:all the packages available to me.  I spent at least an hour
:reading the one-line descriptions of many packages.  I
:selected maybe twenty or thirty, and learned about many others
:that I had never even heard of before. Very interesting, but
:very time-consuming.
:Much later in that very same install, I went to configure X11.
:Something went wrong there, and I ended up with the display in
:When the system rebooted, the partially-installed system was
:totally unusable.  I had to start back at formatting the disks.
:Yes, this could be laughed off as a "learning experience", but
:So now I install a minimal system.  The only ports I add are
:bash and cvsup-without-gui.  I set the password for root,
:Garance Alistair Drosehn            =   gad at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
:Senior Systems Programmer           or  gad at xxxxxxxxxxx

    I've had the same experience, MULTIPLE times.  Every time I install a
    new machine there is a good chance of it not working.  I would spend
    10+ minutes going through sysinstall, setting the root password, the
    timezone, and so forth.  It would run through and think everything is
    just dandy.

    Then I would reboot into the HD and... nothing.  The BIOS can't see
    it, or it can't boot it.

    And sysinstall has gotten itself into an unrecoverable state many times
    as well, usually due to network issues.

    So just as a bare minimum I want three things out of the CD:

    First, I want a fully useable system, including all of /usr and maybe 
    even X *ON* the CD, live, ready to go, complete with MFS mounted /tmp and
    /var, a working termcap, and so forth.  I want a working tcsh, with 
    working history, I want man to pipe through less by default, I want vi
    to work, disklabel to work, virtual consoles, fetch, tar, cpdup, the
    works.  *Everything* should work.

    Second, I want to be able to do a minimal install and reboot to be sure
    that the machine recognizes the HD and can both boot from it and that
    DragonFly can also recognize it (mount the root fs).

    Third, I want an easily configured mechanism that will give me a fully
    working network environment from a CD boot by typing only one or two
    commands at most, and another easily configured mechanism that will
    allow me to 'finish' the installation from a remote template by typing
    a single command. 

    The rest, for me, is just icing on the cake.  Things like having
    additional packages on the CD, and having the package manager detect and
    check a CD for packages automatically, having pre-configured X 
    setups so I can just type something like 'startx-vga-usbmouse'
    and have it 'just work', and so forth.

    FreeBSD focuses on trying to pack as much as possible into its CD set.
    I think that's a mistake.  We should focus on useability for CD #1
    rather then compactness.

					Matthew Dillon 
					<dillon at xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

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