Ticket #160 (closed enhancement: worksforme)

Opened 13 years ago

Last modified 12 years ago

Live CD needs improvement for general consumption

Reported by: jdreed Owned by: xavid
Priority: normal Milestone: Fall 2009 Release
Component: livecd Keywords:
Cc: xavid Fixed in version:
Upstream bug:

Description

I finally got around to playing with the Live CD. It's a great start, but it needs some improvement before it's ready for general consumption:

  • Networking: Logins fail miserably if the machine isn't registered. I realize this is a function of our environment, but since we're aiming this CD at new Debathena users, we should probably figure out a way to do something clever if the machine isn't registered for DHCP (a zenity dialog would be fine, prompting the user for a static IP would be awesome). What would be clever would be if the livecd did some sort of check before starting the greeter. In a dhreg situation, all DNS requests return an A record for 10.72.0.47, which is nic.mit.edu's other interface. So perhaps the livecd could try to fetch, say, http://debathena.mit.edu/livecd.txt, and parse the output. If it it matches what is expected, then they have network. If it's a 404 error, or some other page, it means they're actually talking to nic.mit.edu. And if it can't connect, then there's no networking at all.
  • Partitioner in GUI installer: The partitioner does not understand LVM. As most Linux distributions have been defaulting to LVM for a while, this means a user cannot, for example, replace an RHEL installation without nuking their entire volgroup. I realize this is an upstream problem, but this is kind of a dealbreaker, since the tty mode partitioner (available via a PXE install) understands LVM just fine. The user should at least be informed of this before trying to install. Perhaps the "install" utility on the desktop can be wrapped with something which warns the user what will and won't work.
  • Installation choices: Ideally, we'd give users the option of installing everything they can install from the installer script (except -cluster). However, in the short term, -standard and -workstation are fine. When we rename stuff, we should figure out if the latter will still mean -workstation or if we should change it to -graphical-login.

Change History

comment:1 Changed 13 years ago by xavid

  • Status changed from new to assigned
  • Owner set to xavid
  • Cc xavid added

Logins fail miserably in a lot of situations, which is why the greeter suggests that you log in as Ubuntu to get network working. Automated network-situation detection would be cool, but seems difficult to get right without it getting in people's way. Though, since the installer currently fails without Internet (which I believe is an upstream issue, but need to look into more), making sure people have internet before installing is pretty key. Unconditionally prompting the user for a static IP address seems like a failure for the target audience of frosh-installing-Debathena-on-their-laptop, because you don't want your first experience to be a confusing dialog box asking you for a number you don't know.

If we ever implement the firefox kiosk thing, autodetecting need to DHCP reg and doing it via that would be awesome.

There are some upstream bug for LVM support ( 109957, [ https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubiquity/+bug/43453 43453), but it's unclear to me to what extent this is being worked on. I'd prefer to warn about LVM on the web page than to modify the installer to have a warning, with the assumption that the partitioner doesn't make it easy to shoot yourself in the foot by accident, but if that's not the case putting a warning in the installer could make sense as a temporary measure.

The main reason that I didn't put in debathena-login is that there is no real reason to prefer it to debathena-graphical-login if you have ubuntu-desktop installed; I'm planning to add it as an "advanced option". I plan to have both -graphical-login and -workstation as options down the road.

comment:2 Changed 13 years ago by jdreed

Logins fail miserably in a lot of situations, which is why the greeter suggests that you log in as Ubuntu to get network working.

Except it doesn't. It says "You can login as 'ubuntu' or (if you have internet) your Athena user". Joe Frosh thinks "Hey, I plugged in my internet cable, I have internet.", logs in as themselves, and is sad when it times out after like 3 minutes.

I'm not sure how automatic connectivity detection would get in people's way? I'm merely suggesting that some init script goes and runs wget, and then decides if it has a useful network connection or not. Based on that, it then somehow (if possible) tells the user "Hey, you appear not to be registered for DHCP. Logging in as your Athena username won't work until you do that." I mean, I guess that could get annoying if you use the LiveCD every day and aren't registered for DHCP, but I don't see that being a big audience.

On the other hand, maybe we should just take care of this on the web page, and have a checklist on that for using the Live CD.

comment:3 Changed 13 years ago by xavid

Except it doesn't. It says "You can login as 'ubuntu' or (if you have internet) your Athena user". Joe Frosh thinks "Hey, I plugged in my internet cable, I have internet.", logs in as themselves, and is sad when it times out after like 3 minutes.

Ok, I was misremembering an earlier version that was longer and more explicit, and said something like "Log in as ubuntu to configure internet or install."

The main way I see the automatic connectivity detection getting in someone's way is if they don't actually want internet. If you're booting from the live CD to repartition your hard drive or whatever, you don't want a dialog box to complain about your internet. In theory, you shouldn't need internet to install at all unless you want -extra-software/-third-party, though this isn't currently the case in practice.

What would be clever would be something that triggered off trying to log in with a username other than "ubuntu" that did an internet check, and do a similar internet check before installing (or before installing in ways that require internet if we get to the point where that's not every way). Doing it for logins might not be practical, though.

comment:4 Changed 13 years ago by jdreed

What would be clever would be something that triggered off trying to log in with a username other than "ubuntu" that did an internet check, and do a similar internet check before installing (or before installing in ways that require internet if we get to the point where that's not every way). Doing it for logins might not be practical, though.

That would be fine. It's probably easy to do for the installer, but I imagine logins are harder.

comment:5 Changed 12 years ago by broder

  • Component set to livecd

comment:6 Changed 12 years ago by xavid

I think that the networking-login thing should probably be a separate package recommended by debathena-login-graphical, possibly the same package that tries to autoconnect to MIT wireless when GDM runs.

comment:7 Changed 12 years ago by xavid

Git now has a version that pops up a dialog if you try to install without internet. I could probably make a pam module that uses similar logic, but I'm not confident that's a terribly good idea.

Incidentally, anyone know how to make a zenity window come to the front when run? For some reason, mine default to behind other windows.

comment:8 Changed 12 years ago by jdreed

  • Milestone set to Fall Release

comment:9 Changed 12 years ago by jdreed

Having it warn before installing sounds good. If the Greeter text reverts to the previous version you described and says something like "Log in as 'ubuntu' first to configure networking" and the webpage has a similar disclaimer and/or "checklist" for using the livecd, I think we can consider this good enough for version 1.0.

I still think a pam module would be neat and a good idea. (I see the point about using it as a rescue CD and not wanting networking, but if you get to the point where you're trying to log in as an Athena user without (working) network, you're doomed.)

comment:10 Changed 12 years ago by xavid

The greeter text now reads:
"You can log in as "ubuntu" or (if you have internet) your Athena user.
Log in as "ubuntu" to install or to configure internet."
I'm open to further edits; however, note that making it longer will make it work even less well in the current greeter.

-c debathena seemed to think a pam module was not necessarily the right solution, but writing one that applied only to nonlocal logins and wasn't pulled in by a metapackage would possibly be a reasonable step for now. Probably not going to work on it personally for another month, though.

comment:11 Changed 12 years ago by jdreed

  • Status changed from assigned to closed
  • Resolution set to worksforme

The networking issue was by far the biggest blocker, and we now have a ticket for ensuring it's up to date.

Closing this ticket, as the subject line is too general to be useful at this point.

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