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RFC: Install Wizard considerations

From: myglc2
Subject: RFC: Install Wizard considerations
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2016 15:35:21 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.5 (gnu/linux)

There have been a few install wizard proposals for GSOC.  They seem to
all focus on making GuixSD easy to install.  But I think we should

o) At the moment, a Guix binary install is easier than a GuixSD USB
   install and much more likely to leave the user with a fully working

o) Since GuixSD is much more bleeding-edge than Guix, if we make it
   easier to install GuixSD, we make it easier for new users to bleed.

o) The fact of the matter is that GuixSD hardware support is weak
   (examples: no boot from MDADM, missing solutions for non-free
   hardware). If we make it easy for new users to go in this direction
   by making it easy to install, we know that many will hit these issues
   and become discouraged.

o) OTOH, if we make it easy to install Guix/GNU/Linux, the odds are that
   the install will go smoothly. On this path the retention of new users
   is based on how well Guix user-level package management works rather
   than the issues noted above.

o) From a software end-user's point of view, there may be only a
   relatively small incremental benefit to running GuixSD instead of

So, IMO, if we want to make it easier for new users to try Guix, right
now we need a Guix/GNU/Linxu install wizard much more than we need a
GuixSD install wizard.

Looking at the big picture, the ideal installer would seamlessly handle
Guix/GNU/Linux and GuixSD installs. It might do something like the

Examine the environment & determine the possible ways that Guix and/or
GuixSD can be installed, then walk the user through choices, for

- netboot?
 - fdisk & GuixSD?
- GNU/Linux system?
 - ?root user?
  - install Guix?
  - put GuixSD netboot on USB?
  - install GuixSD to disk?
  - install GuixSD dual boot?
 - running in user space?
  - guix installed?
   - set up git clone?
  - guix not present?
   - can you sudo?
    - yes - got to '?root user' above
    - no
     - install Guix in user space?
     - put GuixSD netboot on USB?

In any event, the end user should end up with a functioning Guix setup
in which all guix features described in the manual are working, (except
those requiring root, e.g. guix system reconfigure).

Back to GSoC: Admittedly this would be a large scope for a GSoC
project. But there are multiple GSoC proposers that want to work on
installation.  Maybe they could collaborate on a "universal Guix
installer" with a fall back plan of producing GuixSD AND Guix/GNU/Linux

- George

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