[PC-BSD Testing] PCBSD 8.0 Alpha 20091206 x86 - Install Failure & Installer Comments

Ian Robinson fitchkendall at gmail.com
Mon Dec 7 22:20:26 PST 2009


The computer was a plain vanilla HP Vectra VL400, PIII @ 1 GHZ, 512 Mb RAM,
ATI AGP video.

Installing PCBSD 8.0 Alpha 20091206 x86 failed after the first reboot (i.e.
the reboot which leads to configuring video & xorg.conf).  The installation
screens gave no warning of a pending problem.

The boot process failed right after probing the CD drives (acd0 and acd1)
and then waited indefinitely.  However, the computer was not frozen and I
could press enter to get to the root prompt.

I looked over the hard disk and was surprised to see there were no files
installed into /usr.  Perhaps this was a bad burn, so I will burn another
disk, reinstall, and report.  Is it also possible that the slice was not
mounted because the start-up process had not proceeded far enough?

I will re-burn, reinstall, and report.

The new installer was nice but the color scheme is rather bland and subdued
compared with the "old" installer.  Of course I am commenting on something
that is merely cosmetic and not a functional complaint.  Function was just
fine.  However, I think the layouts of certain screens have the potential to
cause missteps, confusion, oversight, or omission by novice users attempting
to install PC-BSD.


Detailed Analysis of the Appearance of Installer Screens:

===============================

1.  Language Screen -- OK - Obvious what to do.
===============================

2.  Keyboard Screen -- OK - Obvious layout and easy to read even though a
lot of choices are presented.
===============================

3.  System Screen --

A.  The hint that says "Select installation type" is in a small font,
anchored at the right margin, and seems almost invisible next to the
dominating but unrelated icon next to it.

B.  The eye does not naturally land on the the first step
(Install/Upgrade/Restore) because the eye is drawn to the second step where
you choose either PC-BSD and FreeBSD.  That's because of the red icons and
the spacing between step one and two being so small.

C.  In contrast, the third step (Installation Source) is easier to "see"
because of the huge white space isolating this step from the others.  The
icons are "appropriate" but not large enough to communicate.

D.  The starting locations (viz. left to right) of the three steps are
staggered and lack a certain consistency.

E.  RECOMMENDATIONS for System Screen:

i.  Move the hint to the left margin, increase the font size, and make it
bold like the word "System" in the top right part of the screen.

ii.  Create a more balanced appearance and easier to follow steps using more
white space between each step, i.e., move step one down a line or two, move
step two down some extra lines, and keep the distance between step 1
(install), 2 (system) and 3 (source) equal.   Compare the organization of
"System Screen" with the "User Screen" to see these points illustrated.

iii.  Start each step at a common left margin.

iv.  Number each step with a number in a larger, bold font.
===============================

4.  Disk Screen --

A.  The hint that says "Disk Setup" is in a small font, anchored at the
right margin, and seems almost invisible next to the dominating but
unrelated icon next to it.

B.  While the "ad0 ........" is obvious to experienced BSD users, it is not
obvious to a casual user.  It would be more obvious if there was a label
like "Choose the Target Disk"  and a hint like "Click the down arrow to see
other disks"

C.  The starting locations (viz. left to right) of the steps are staggered
and lack consistency.

D.  RECOMMENDATIONS for Disk Screen

These are identical to the previous recommendations.

i.  Move the hint to the left margin, increase the font size, and make it
bold like the word "Disk" in the top right part of the screen.

ii.  Create a more balanced appearance and easier to follow steps using more
white space between each step, i.e.,  move step two (auto/customize) up a
little, keep the distance between steps equal.

iii.  Start each step at a common left margin.

iv.  Number each step with a number in a larger, bold font.
===============================

5.  User Screen -- Mostly obvious.  Good use of white space and boxes, has
common left margin starting space, and useful prompts.   The steps could be
numbered to maintain consistency with the recommendations stated above.
Move "User Creation" label to the left.

===============================

6.  Time Screen -- Obvious and easy.  Move "Date & Time to left and enlarge
font.  The screen mentions "Date" but there is no date choice.  Therefore,
drop "Date" from the label.

===============================

7.  Components Screen -- Obvious and easy.  Move "Optional Components" to
the left and enlarge the font.  The panel lacks (a) the ability to select
more than one component using the <ctrl><left-click> or (b) a "select all"
choice.

===============================

8.  Summary Screen

A.  Why is it necessary to scroll the summary?  There is enough screen space
to make the report and it would probably communicate better without the need
to scroll.

B.  If it is necessary, then the slider bar should be more obvious than
white-on-white.

C.  I note the summary screen reports that you will be organizing the disk
with separate-sized slices for /, /var, and /usr.  This is different from
the PC-BSD tradition of a slice for SWAP and the rest of the disk dedicated
to /.
===============================

9.  Installation Screen -- Clear.  I miss the pictures.

===============================

10.  Finished Screen  -- Clear.

===============================


OK.  Thanks for listening, and did I forget to mention that the boot routine
is fast even from the DVD?


Ian Robinson
Salem, Ohio
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