Installer Philosophy

I earned my dev wings back in November and joined the installer team. Since then, I’ve written the partitioning code, the dialog frontend (now maintained by codeman), and most of the GTK frontend (Screenshots). While writing the frontends, I’ve come across a question that has yet to be answered: Is the installer intended to make installation easier or faster?

The original intention of the installer was for automated deployments. The way it is designed made it pretty easy to do end-user installs, also. Unfortunately, the end-user aspect of it has overshadowed the original intention. This is partially my fault with the way I’m doing the GTK frontend, but it wasn’t intentional.

I’ve been getting pressure from users/devs to make it more user-friendly and hand-holding. Personally, I don’t think we shouldn’t lower the bar for Gentoo. If a user can’t follow the already very detailed install guide, they won’t be able to admin their Gentoo install. Making the installer hold the user’s hand is only going to flood the MLs, forums, and IRC channels with dumb questions that are already answered in the install guide or related documentation. In my opinion, the user should still have to read the install guide to figure out what to do with the installer.

HP C3600 woes

I recently managed to get a HP C3600 workstation (after a lot of frustration and having to threaten legal action…don’t ask). It had been working fine for the last week or so on serial console. I decided to try to get keyboard/video working. I picked up one of those PS/2->USB adapters that handles the USB stuff for the keyboard. I plugged in the keyboard and stuck in an ATI Rage II Mach64 GT card that I had laying around. The card had been pulled (working) from my x86 box about a week ago and replaced with a card with more video memory.

The machine came up just fine but it kept going to serial console. The video card was detected:

Information Menu: Enter command > io

                                                                     IODC IODC
Path         Decimal     Type                  Location   HVER SVER  Vers Dep
------------ ----------- --------------------- ---------- ---- ----  ---- ----
PCI6         10/1/6/0    VGA                   slot 6     0070 8500  0x01 0x00

I ran a few more information commands and walked away leaving the machine running. When I came back ~15 minutes later, I saw the following on the serial console:

Main Menu: Enter command > pcoq000000f0 f000b748
    000000f0 f000b74c
ior 00001f38
iir 53c63e73
pcoq000000f0 f000b748
    000000f0 f000b74c
ior 00001f38
iir 53c63e73
(same 4 lines repeating 6 more times)
pcoq000000f0 f000b748

At this point, the box was locked up (not responding to any input over serial). I shut it off and turned it back on. I hear the fans and HD spinning up, but all I get on the LCD is solid blocks across the top row, and nothing comes over the serial. I’ve unplugged the keyboard and removed the video card, but that hasn’t helped. I’ve left it unplugged overnight, but that didn’t help. Does anyone have any idea what happened or how to fix it?