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Re: Graphical Installer - Call for Testing.

From: Chris Marusich
Subject: Re: Graphical Installer - Call for Testing.
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2017 20:06:09 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1 (gnu/linux)

John Darrington <address@hidden> writes:

> On Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 09:40:17PM -0800, Chris Marusich wrote:
>      John Darrington <address@hidden> writes:
>      > The wip-installer branch is ready for testing and general review.
>      >
>      > This branch provides a curses based graphical interface to the disk
>      > images used for installing GuixSD. It is intended to allow users
>      > unfamiliar with bash and other aspects of unix-like operating systems
>      > to easily install GuixSD.   This means, it should allow you to install
>      > GuixSD on a bare PC, without ever touching a shell (whilst still
>      > providing that option for those who want it).
>      >
>      > Whilst it is still a work in progress it has, in my opinion, got to
>      > a stage where it is usable.  Before merging into master however, it
>      > would be great to get feedback from others.
>      >
>      > For those of you who don't wish to build a disk-image yourselves,
>      > Ludo has kindly made available pre-built images for x86_64 and
>      > i686-linux systems at
>      >
>      > Please report coding and usability issues.
>      I want to test this, but I've arrived late to the party.  Does the link
>      above contain the most recent round(s) of feedback?  I've tried to build
>      the wip-installer branch, but I found that the installation system tests
>      failed, so I thought I'd ask before trying to build it myself.
> Nothing signficant has changed since this image was made.  So your comments 
> will
> still be valid and appreciated.

Hi!  I successfully installed GuixSD on my Libreboot laptop using the
installer!  It's awesome to see some work in this area.  Thank you!

I've got a lot of feedback.  Some is minor, some is less minor.  Even if
you don't incorporate all of it, I hope that it will help make the
installer better!

* Left-clicking on buttons, entries, etc. had no effect.  I expected it
  to be equivalent to pressing enter or space.

* Left-clicking leaves the clicked square (i.e., row+column
  intersection) highlighted, which is visually distracting.

* The installer should either guide the user through a linear series of
  steps, or explain at the beginning what the user should do.  I wasn't
  sure what to do at first when I was dropped into the installer.  This
  doesn't preclude a non-linear path through the installation phases,
  but I do think a more guided path would be less confusing.

* The installer begins with nothing selected.  This contributed to my
  initial confusion: what am I supposed to do?

* The installer should display a keymap, or a hotkey which displays help
  info (like the help page in cfdisk, or top).

* I think you made the first letter of some commands bold (like the "C"
  in "Continue"), but I didn't notice it until I tried the installation
  on a machine with a different monitor.  More contrast, or an
  underlined character, might help call that out more.

* I'm not sure how, but I got stuck in a menu loop between "Partition
  the disks" and "Choose mount point".  Hitting "Continue" and "Go Back"
  in any order never took me to any other step, or back to the main
  menu.  I worked around the issue by getting a shell and rebooting.

* Partition the disks: when launching cfdisk, consider explaining that
  we're going to launch cfdisk to do the actual partitioning, and the
  user needs to quit cfdisk to come back and continue the installation.

* The interface was at times sluggish - there was a noticeable delay
  (hundreds of milliseconds) between pressing e.g. the left-arrow key
  and the next bottom-menu item being selected.

* By default, this installer provides a lot of manual control over how
  the disks are partitioned, what file systems will be installed, and
  what their mount points will be.  Perhaps by default we should offer
  one or more common configurations - e.g., one partition, containing an
  ext4 file system, mounted at / - and move the finer-grained manual
  controls into a sub-menu of some kind.  For comparison, I've just
  installed Ubuntu and Debian today, and both of their installers offer
  such simplified paths for installation. - useful if someone does not
  know much about that stuff yet or they just want an easy default.

* Following that note, if we presented pre-set combinations of
  partitions/file systems/mount points, I can imagine adding another
  "simple configuration" to that list, for encrypted home partition, or
  an entire encrypted disk.  For various use cases.

* The installer contains various input text boxes (e.g., for file system
  label).  These boxes are invisible; a border would help call them out
  (I almost didn't realize they existed).  Also, left/right arrow keys
  did not scroll left/right, which surprised me, but backspace and
  delete worked well enough.

* The generated operating system configuration should use file system
  UUID or label, if possible, rather than device path.

* Choose mount point: since you can also set the label here, maybe
  change the title of the section to "Choose file system and mount
  point" or something?

* The installer takes a "window within a window" approach for
  installation phases.  This conflicts with the "replace the whole
  window" behavior that occurs when running cfdisk.  I think that using
  a "replace the whole window" approach for the whole installer would
  help unify the overall look and feel.  So, instead of creating a
  window within the installer window for the "Partition the disks"
  phase, just replace the entire window with the relevant interface for
  the sub-menu.

* Choose mount point: clarify what the actions Check, Write, and
  re(Create) mean.  I wasn't sure until I tried them all!

* Passphrase entry (for wireless setup): after inputting my wireless
  network's passphrase, the message "Successfully initiated
  wpa_supplicant" was displayed without a newline on the same line where
  I had just put my passphrase, which looked clunky.

* I couldn't get wireless working, so I had to plug in an ethernet cable
  to continue the installation.  I'm not sure why the wireless failed.

* I didn't realize that "enter" performed a different action than
  "space."  On some menus it seems to matter which one you use, but on
  others, it seems like they behave the same.  I think clarifying the
  keymap/interface will help with this.

* Generate the configuration: for some reason, when I entered this menu,
  I was dropped back into the "Allocate disk partitions" menu, which was
  confusing.  Perhaps I was just confused and hit the wrong button!

* Allocate disk partition: label the header.  I didn't realize there was
  a column for "mount point" until I set up a mount point; a header
  would have helped call out the fact that I had not yet set up a mount

* Install the system: there was a 10-20 second delay after pressing
  enter to begin the installation, during which I wasn't sure if
  anything was actually being done.  Not sure if that's the installer's
  fault, though.  After that, the installation began.

* Install the system: there were a lot of ^[[ characters at the start of
  the lines which were output in the window showing the progress of the
  installation.  Also, there was a lot of flashing underneath lines like
  "Downloading | 3.4 MiB transferred",
  as if the underscore symbol was being moved super fast from the start
  of the line to the end of the line repeatedly.

* Final step: the installer told me to remove the installation device
  and reboot.  I followed these instructions by removing the device.
  When I tried to reboot, the program crashed with a kernel panic - not
  surprising, I guess, since I had removed the entire system out from
  under it...  This was benign, since I was able to just power cycle my
  system, but maybe we need to change the wording or something here?

* My opinion is that the reasonable default is to create a user, or at
  least give an opportunity to ask for the creation of a user.  I
  understand this is not what you want in an installer, since you use
  LDAP for account info, but I suspect most people would expect this.

Thank you again for taking the time to make this installer.  All in all,
it was really easy to use!  The biggest usability issues were failure to
set up wireless, getting lost in a menu loop which required a reboot to
break out of, and the final kernel panic which was benign but scary.


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