A Look at the Ubuntu Installer

Thorsten Wilms t_w_ at freenet.de
Wed Jan 9 17:30:01 UTC 2008

On Wed, 2008-01-09 at 07:11 -0500, Evan Dandrea wrote:

> > http://thorwil.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/ubuntu_installer_thorwil.pdf

> Thank you very much to take the time to write up this detailed and
> visually stunning report.

You're welcome, and thanks for the detailed reply!

> > A good live system should have:
> > - drive icons for easy mounting
> Go to Places -> Computer, double click on any volume.

That's what I did. It let me to wish for icons directly on the
desktop ;)

> > - an option to save preferences to disk (or to make a package for online
> >   storage)
> This already exists: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LiveUsbPendrivePersistent

This seems to be about having everything on a USB stick.
I thought of a package you can put on any media or load to and from the
web. Of course, such ideas are only cheap to describe and always
plentiful ;)

> > In Computer, the drives are listed with names like 14.0 GB Volume.
> > Seeing the size is helpful, but not enough to identify drives that are
> > named by the hda/sda convention elsewhere. Mounted disks are
> > labelled disk, disk-1 ... . Too generic and no connection with previous
> > name. Also counting from zero, which should be left in the coding realm.
> My understanding is that it uses the disk label, when it exists.  I
> could be wrong, but this is nevertheless outside the scope of the
> installer.

I wouldn't be surprised if my disk labels aren't set.
I had to wonder quite a bit which partition was which.

> > The User Switcher applet shouldn't appear with only one user.
> Again, outside the scope of the installer, but you'll need to provide
> solid examples of how it decreases usability if you're going to
> convince anyone that it needs to go.

In the best case it is ignored. In the worst case the users wastes a few
minutes on it, trying to figure out what it is good for. I've seen
inexperienced users exploring unknown interfaces - it can be a
astonishingly slow process. Users of single account machines don't ever
need to be confronted with it.

> Now, I really like your partitioner mockups and will be looking for a
> way to incorporate what ideas I can from them.  Though I don't want to
> diverge too much from the already agreed upon specifications and my
> time is limited, so we'll have to wait and see.  Most of it may have to
> wait until after the LTS is out.

Feel free to contact me if you need adaptions, variations played through
in mockups or just the sources of what I have already.

Recently, I have been thinking about removing the info text about
required partitions. Having 2 categories in the list instead: "Required"
and "Optional". The "Required" category containing to fixed entries for
root and swap. Interaction for "Optional" partitions/mount-points might
become tricky, though.

> Modifying ubiquity to replicate this mockup is not a small code change,
> and because the difference is minor I'm inclined to deal with this at a
> lower priority.  I do like the idea of being able to jump back to
> individual pages without hitting the back button a lot, though.

The page links would go well with having numbered page icons on the
bottom of the window, in place of "Step i of n". A page's icon would
change appearance and become clickable after the page has been reached

> > If you want to encourage users to take part in the package usage
> > survey, the option shouldn't be hidden behind a scary Advanced.
> I didn't put it there, but I imagine it's there precisely because we
> don't think most users should see it.  To my knowledge we do not use
> the data for much of anything.

In that case, it should be considered to remove it. I guess the data of
only the curious and "daring" users isn't worth much ;)

> > Installer unmounting problem
> Did you let the installer try to unmount the partition by hitting
> 'continue'?  Was it unsuccessful?

I think I did and it was unsuccessful. Has been a while, though.

Let me know if there's something else I should do with respect to my
report. Thanks for the great response!

Thorsten Wilms

thorwil's design for free software:

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