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Re: [vox] Ponder, ponder... perhaps a silly notion
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Re: [vox] Ponder, ponder... perhaps a silly notion

Quoting Henry House (hajhouse@houseag.com):

> What about LibraNet? A copy for the library (donated by the LibraNet
> company) arrived yesterday. I have not tried an installation yet, but
> the promise of a Debian-compatible system with easy hardware
> autodetection during install is very appealing.

I like the _beta_ of that Libranet version a great deal, having
retrieved the ISOs while it was still freely available on the Net.
(I've not tried the subsequent release version, which is available only
in a retail boxed set, of which the library obviously just received a
copy.)  I gave Pete copies of the ISOs, for the beta.

Some people don't like the non-graphical (ncurses-based) installer, 
ditto the fact that it scrolls past you huge amounts of information 
as it does "dpkg -i" and "dpkg --configure" on each package installed.
Other installers (PGI, Xandros) are all-GUI and have less of the
scrolling-messages displays that apparently bother some of the more
skittish desktop users.

Note#1:  Knoppix's hardware autodetection during bootup (and thus during
optional installation to HD) is difficult to beat.

Note#2:  Hardware autodetection during installation is very much a mixed
blessing, which is possibly why the plain-vanilla one for Debian doesn't
do much of it without the user's involvement.  The biggest problem is
that aggressive autoprobing can cause installers to seize up, with the
result that some distributions are (avoidably) not installable on some
systems.  To pick a hypothetical example, suppose an installer were to
always autoprobe for my on-board sound chipset, and that the chipset
happened to react badly and cause seize-ups.  (This _sort_ of thing does
happen, though my specific example is invented.)  In that case, having
automatic autoprobe during installation would be a bad thing.

The aim of the vanilla-Debian installer[1] is to support enough of your
hardware to complete installation on the broadest possible range of
hardware, using the widest possible choice of installation methods --
floppy, ftp, http, NFS, PLIP/laplink, SLIP/serial, ZIP drive, CD-ROM,
tftp/bootp, or files prepositioned on a hard drive partition.  _After_
that necessary first step, there are extensive Debian packages for
hardware autodetection.  Quoting my Debian tips file:

Hardware-recognition (and related) packages:

  hardware identification system (thank you, Progeny Systems, Inc.)
  mouse device autodetection tool
  hardware information-gathering tool for VESA PnP monitors
  sound configuration (thank you, Red Hat Software, Inc.)
  USB/PCI device hotplugging support, and network autoconfig  
  Diagnostic tools for many non-PCI ethernet cards               
  Diagnostic tools for many PCI ethernet cards                     
  A little tool to manipulate network cards                            

Don't forget that lspci and pnpdump will list installed PCI and ISApnp
devices, respectively.

But, people who nonetheless honestly want Debian via an installer with
hardware autoprobing during installation have lots of options:  Xandros
Desktop OS and Knoppix are the ones that come to mind, aside from

[1] Which comes with several different kernel/driver sets, to let the
user either have the widest possible driver support or some subset of
those to finesse around problem hardware components that seize up other

Cheers,               "All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental,
Rick Moen             and should not be construed."
rick@linuxmafia.com                                -- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
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