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Old 01-23-2009, 05:31 PM
Chris Lumens
Default working on text mode

As some of you may know, I've been working on a major simplification of
the text mode installer. If this is the first time you've heard this,
let me briefly outline the case for why I'm doing this.

- Text mode and graphical mode are completely separate codebases as far
as the interface is concerned. We don't have some magic interface
language that can display under both modes. What this means is that
anything we add to the graphical mode needs to be coded up again a
second time for text mode.

- Text mode only supports a subset of the graphical mode's features.
For instance, you can't do LVM in text mode. Nor can you do encrypted
filesystems, resizable filesystems, add repos, or edit repos. This
situation is only going to get worse over time. Why is this the case?
First, because it involves duplicating all the tedious work of writing
a UI and no one wants to do that. Second, the screen real estate on
the console is quite limited and things like LVM just don't fit in the
space available.

- We already have alternate install modes available. You can do
automatic installs via kickstart, or you can use VNC.

- If the graphical installer doesn't work, the fix is not to have a
completely different path to go down. The fix is to fix graphical
installs. Having said this, we still do have work arounds possible.
You can always add xdriver=vesa as a boot parameter if the normal driver
for your card doesn't work under X. My latest patch to the list makes
it more obvious that you can do this.

So what have I done? What do I mean by "simplifying text mode"?

- Text mode is not going away, contrary to what you might have heard.

- I have removed many of the more complicated parts of the UI, turning
text mode into the truly minimal install experience that a lot of
people have asked for. You get a package set that's small but still
able to install updates and new packages. You get the initial
partitioning screen (choose your disks and handwaving layout) but not
the second screen.

- We more strongly suggest VNC or xdriver=vesa, but text is still there
if you want and still as a fallback should the graphical installer
fail to start. Maybe that last bit should be changed.

Okay that wasn't very brief but this is a controversial thing to do, so
it probably required more explanation. Anyway I've put together an
updates image that is my initial run through at simplifying text mode.
If you'd like to give it a try, simply add the following parameters to
the boot command line:

updates=http://clumens.fedorapeople.org/notext.img text

Comments? Concerns? Suggestions?

- Chris

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