[OT] Debian mailinglists

Marcin Kasperski Marcin.Kasperski at softax.com.pl
Tue May 20 14:11:50 UTC 2008

>>> Configuration should always be possible through a question/answer
>>> system, rather than hand-editing, because even the most
>>> experienced users make mistakes when hand-editing, while a GUI
>>> tool should always prevent syntactic errors.

Well, I managed to corrupt (= turn into something which did not work)
my xorg.conf a few times while using debconf question&answer, I never
corrupted it while editing manually.  I also happened to misconfigure
sshd once, again it was when I used those prompts.

Also, from my experience syntax errors are not that troublesome.
Typical programs have that pleasant reload or restart or even
configtest option, which will report syntax errors without stopping
the working instance. Logical errors are far more dangerous.

> Well, it doesn't strictly need to be GUI, but it has to be a
> question/answer interface - anything that requires you to hand edit
> is a disaster waiting to happen (particularly if it's something like
> SSH where a misconfiguration guarantees you're locked out of your
> system until you can get physical access).

Are you sure answering 100 questions is less error-prone than
locating this single tweak you need to change and changing it?

Yes, reconfiguring remote sshd, firewall, or network interface is
risky operation. But it is risky by its very nature, not because you
edit config files. I strongly prefer to edit the file, being able to
see what I write and where and why, than to run some sequence of
questions which I can perfectly misunderstand or press Enter too

| Marcin Kasperski   |   Most of the bad things that can happen to
| http://mekk.waw.pl | a project are the result of miscommunication.
|                    |                    (Booch)

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