I admit it. I'm a distro junkie and at any given time, have 3 or 4 different distributions installed on my notebook. And now that I've installed a shiny new 750GB drive, I expect that average to go up to 6 or 7.
Something I've noticed recently, and it's beginning to drive me just a wee bit bonkers. The newer installers are created for the new user. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing, but, we old farts need some love, too, with some advanced options.
For example, why doesn't anyone provide advanced options to modify the Grub menu before it gets installed? I'd like to tell Grub to ignore Windows on sda and stick just to sdb. I'd also like to modify menu entries upon installation to further define which distro is which. And above all, I'd LOVE to be able to specify which partition the grub files should be installed to. Each distro wants to install its own version of grub in its own location. What if /dev/sdb1 rarely changes and I want the grub menu to always be driven from that location? I'm unaware of any installer that gives you that option.
It's great that the newer GUI installers are becoming easier to use. But I wish there were some advanced options that would allow me to tailor the installation to my needs, rather than booting into my primary distribution and having to rerun grub to get the menu I truly desire and in the location I want it to be in.
I agree with you. Most of installers are 'new_users_friendly' these days and not giving much boot setup option. iirc, Installers do give an option to select boot loader install location. That option is not straight though. I am planning to install Fedora 18 in one of my machine today. I will definitely look for it and let you know if I find anything.
Have you checked Ubuntu Alternate Installation CD and other text based installers? Do those provide minimal options like Graphical Installers? * Its been a long time since I used text based installer.
A lot of the distros are getting away from the text installers. And while current installers ask where you want the boot loader installed, it's too basic. You're given an option of the MBR or the root partition of the distro you're installing. That's pretty much it.
I installed Fedora a couple of days ago (it's one that I've always wanted to play around with). No options like I'd like to see.
Gentoo is next. It's been on my "to play with" list for years and now that I have the disc space to play, it's getting installed, too! :D
I agree with you and think that if it wouldn't be overly difficult for the devs to achieve, it would be great if Linux installers offered 'beginner' and 'advanced' installation paths at the beginning of the installation procedure. Most fresh installs don't take all that long so for those that find that they've chosen the wrong path, they could easily start from the beginning again.
If they can't do that, a separate text installer giving the user plenty of options would be good. They can always set defaults in the text installer but still allow individual users to make other choices should they wish.
Of course, the developers themselves might have an entirely different way of thinking on all this. :)
I have a beef about the partitioning options in modern installers. In the old days you got to choose between automatic partitioning (which was fine if you were a novice installing your first Linux alongside Windows) and an ncurses-based partitioning tool like cfdisk or Red Hat's Disk Druid. You could use the latter option to create any setup you wanted.
Modern installers like Ubuntu's Ubiquity also claim to offer an expert option, but it's just a graphical tool for choosing how much of an existing partition gets cannibalised (up to and including the whole of it!). There's no option for saying: "Leave that partition alone; create a root partition in the space I've carefully cleared for that purpose, and don't bother about a swap partition because I've already got one."
I had a bad experience once with Ubiquity (Bodhi, not Buntu) and it made me realise how user-unfriendly graphical installers can be.
That's a problem I've never encountered with Ubiquity; whether installing Ubuntu or a derivitive just select "Something else" at the partitioning stage and there is a fully featured partitioner. I don't find it quite as intuitive as cfdisk however.
Originally Posted by hazel
I'm sure some think that putting all those options into the installer would create headaches for new users. I don't buy it. And while I can sympathize with the headaches involved in creating a feature rich installer, the first distro to do something like that will have people like me breaking down the door to give it a shot.
Originally Posted by oz
Yes, I agree. I'm sure various developers have different mental attitudes about their projects and varied reasoning for why they do what they do, but I've heard some devs comment that they develop for their own needs, and not the needs of others. They often go on to say they don't mind others making use of their work.
There's nothing wrong with that attitude, but if those are the devs working on the installers, I'm guessing that end user selectable options might be limited in many cases, as that developer probably doesn't need them. Distros aiming for popularity and growth among end users, should probably have devs with the same goals in mind, whereas those niche distros that don't care about growing or popularity are probably fine with having limited end user options.