[Trac-bugs] [PC-BSD Trac] #252: Install Bugs still chronic, x86 and x64 comparisons and various Suggestions.

PC-BSD trac at pcbsd.org
Mon Feb 15 17:52:59 PST 2010

#252: Install Bugs still chronic, x86 and x64 comparisons  and various
 Reporter:  GeeKen     |       Owner:        
     Type:  defect     |      Status:  new   
 Priority:  critical   |   Milestone:        
Component:  Installer  |     Version:  8.0-RC
 Keywords:             |  
 '''PCBSD-8, RC-2 BUG-REPORT (INTELx86 & AMDx64)'''
 == '''' ==


 In my last bug report (#230) for Beta/RC-1 releases, I described
 similar problems to those that I mention below. However those bugs applied
 to the Beta/RC-1 AMD-x64 install. x86 wouldn't install at all within
 Beta/RC-1, at that time.

 Chris has came to the rescue and has made good progress with the
 installer, but there is a lot more to do. Now AMD-x64 variant installs
 from the full DVD, with some work and x86 installs only off the boot CD
 with major work.

 At RC-2. neither install processes are yet easy enough for newbies !!!!
 (see descriptions of the numerous issues below).

 The two machines I have used for the Install and Usage tests
 are :

 A) Intel x86 32 bit, Single-Core = HP pavilion a410n, 2.8 GHz Celeron CPU,
 with latest BIOS (2005), no Video Card.

 This machine really tests things out, for some reason.

 B) AMD x64 64 bit = HP Pavilion a6130n - AMD 64 X2 DUAL CORE 5000+, with
 latest BIOS (2007?) and integrated graphics.


 Both of these machines are used every day, for varying tasks.

 I installed FREEBSD 8 on my x86 machine to compare usability and I found
 that FREEBSD-8 simply goes into the x86 machine without problem and is

 I conclude that there are major things about the x86-PCBSD-8 Install
 process and Desktop system which are CURRENTLY degraded or that are made
 too complicated.

 Separately, the same x86 machine runs fast and reliably on :

 ~ Linux Mint 8, Fluxbox (a lightweight Desktop).
 ~ Fedora 12

 (to offer useful, technical comparison).

 (However when I upgrade either of these Linuxes, major problems always
 arise and so I am sold on PCBSD. When PCBSD runs great it keeps running
 great and upgrades RELIABLY - very cool).

 PCBSD-8 RC-2 IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC on my AMD x64 machine !!!!!! It's so
 fantastic on this PC that it has become the system of choice for me.

 *  *

 '''2) INSTALLING/USING PCBSD-8 RC-2, on the Intel x86-32bit machine.
 Very Problematic, not really achievable.


 2.1) Installation Bugs - These are still "Massive", in scope.

 2.1.1) Full DVD = non operational.

 - The Full DVD install does not work and does not get through to the
 graphical screens. It just gets slow and stops early in the process. The
 CD boot-only install does eventually work, but only after a lot of sweat
 and frustration. This is however a major improvement over  Beta & RC-1 !
 There I couldn't get x86 to Install AT ALL.

 2.1.2) Inadequate testing must exist in x86 32 bit variant.

 - With the "full DVD" install I won't even begin to explain what happens
 BUGWISE, but its huge. I cannot believe that the dev/test teams don't see
 these massive departures from success.

 I suggest that your dev/test teams get some older PC's and actually try
 the installs on about 6 very different machines from the2000, 2004, 2008
 era's, using both AMD and Intel. Also try the same install test with Video
 Cards and without, on these same machines.

 2.1.3) Video Resolution show stopper

 The installer needs to start with Vid Res set at VESA resolutions  (50
 Hertz, 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 etc), so that ANY monitor can work all the
 way through the install process.

 In both the 32 and 64 bit install, I got "mode not supported" errors from
 several LCD monitors. This halts the install because it cannot be seen,
 anymore > >  > - - - - - - - - ? ? ? ? ?

 I had to get my old CRT monitor out of the shed to see the process enough
 to understand what to do to get going again.

 The installer process needs to be able to :

 a) Offer full, easily controllable, manual intervention of Vid Res (and
 all install factors, see 2.1.4, below).

 b) Hold the settings all the way through to when the Vid Res choices are
 again changeable after install. There the settings are reversible by
 pushing the Esc key. (If I can no longer see the screen after changing
 settings, I simply push Esc and the prior resolution setup returns. No
 Halt of Install) !!

 The changes discussed next,in 2.1.4, would handle this issue as one
 subsection of several. (More powerful setup options must be made easily
 available to the Installer User).

 2.1.4) Making the Pre-graphical installer Main-Menu USER-FRIENDLY.

 The pre-graphical installer section has a menu that comes up. Most of my
 current frustration is that this menu is difficult to use and is different
 between the x86 and the x64 installers.

 It is problematic because it :

 a)  Has no Help system to describe what the functions do or mean and about
 how to use the buttons. This needs to be improved.

 b)  Does not wait for instructions - it just times out and does whatever
 it wants to do after 10 seconds.

 I don't want to have to wait around to try to "catch" it before it moves
 on. Nor do I want to be forced to attempt to understand and Edit the
 settings in only the few seconds that I have before it races forward.

 Suggestion is that it is reprogrammed to proceed ONLY after a "OK to
 Proceed" question is answered "Yes" and then Enter is pushed. If Esc is
 pushed instead, then it would revert to the setup Menu.

 Better still, a summary of what will happen is displayed after Enter is
 pushed and then we are asked to agree to the summarized settings before
 proceeding. And we have another chance to Edit the settings before
 actually proceeding with the expensive install process.

 An install cycle is expensive because it consumes so much time,
 particularly when it has to be repeated over and over due to a chaotic
 install arrangement.Currently we have to learn about each install option
 by doing a full install to see what happens  (which is too crazy).

 2.1.5) Making the Pre-graphical installer Main-Menu EFFECTIVE.

 Another issue is that it is not obvious how many of the Menu options at
 the install control menu (pre-graphical) can be switched on together and
 if these settings are interactive.

 For example I may want ACPI off and VESA mode selected at the same time.
 So this menu must allow many settings to be set.

 Any interactions between these settings must be considered during its

 These settings must apply throughout the install process.

 Any command line instructions could be entered within this all-important

 Any later install "Halts" could make recommendations  which  are entered
 here on the next pass. This would be a more efficient use of my time.

 The resulting settings should be able to be saved somehow so they won't
 get lost for that machine etc etc. That's probably a tricky one !

 Emailing them out to the installing person (as currently happens with
 errors arising during the graphical part of the install) or to their BSD
 tracbug account are two possible options . Or something equally clever
 (save settings onto a USB stick ?)

 2.1.6) Automatic ACPI disconnection is desirable after an Error

 Chris and I emailed about potentially having self-selecting ACPI modes, in
 future installer versions. This is still needed. (The Linux Mint 8
 installer must have this ability, already).

 On the x86 machine, ACPI had to be switched off before install. During the
 AMD x-64 install it was OK to leave it in default setting, which is ACPI


 When ACPI was left on in the x86 CD-Boot-only install, a list of
 suggestions came up when install halted. No instructions were give on how
 to USE these instructions. They were also written confusingly and were of
 no use to a medium level tekkie, like me.



 2.2) Operational Bugs - x86 32 bit variant - Needs work !

 See section 5 below for more discussion about this.

 The Desktop in x86 32 bit seems to get slower and slower as I use it.  The
 CPU gets more and more busy, according to "System Monitor", in idle mode,
 with windows open.

 In similar circumstances, this is not the case with the x64 install on the
 x64 AMD machine. Its "System Monitor" shows little CPU activity when idle,
 as would be expected.

 This needs difference needs to be investigated !

 In the x86, it seems to mean a continual usage of the CPU for open windows
 - this could be the older integrated Video system needing constant work.
 (I will try installing a PCI video card in there).

 The x86 install also seems to be a little unstable too, losing text during
 Edits etc etc ? ? ?

 *  *

 '''3) INSTALLING/USING PCBSD-8 RC-2, on the AMD X64-64bit machine.'''

 I only tried the full DVD install as it did work. I assume
 the CD-boot only install will also work for AMD x64.

 Chris's recent improvements have made the whole install go better, for

 Here, it was only the Video resolution that was troublesome, made worse by
 the hard-to-control install menu. This situation is described in the
 32-bit install summary above and applies to both 32 and 64 bit variants.
 Suggested solutions are given there.

 *  *

 #230 and various others)'''

 a) If and when the install process gets through to the graphical part, the
 selection-menu to choose "Internet" install actually works now. (The
 "Internet" option radio button is no longer greyed out).

 b) Bugs are no longer occurring or being reported, under the graphical
 section. Thats fixed ! - Cool !!

 *  *

 5.1) KTORRENT INSTALL - this is the same issue on both x86 and x64.

 KTORRENT and many other programs do not appear in the "INSTALLED SOFTWARE"
 manager screens, after download. It is as if these are a treated as minor
 programs OR are lost.

 When I went to install KTORRENT, I didn't check if it was already in the
 machine - it may have been. The software manager didn't tell me that it
 was, so I assumed that it wasn't.

 The first moment I knew it was weird was when I downloaded
 the KTORRENT PBI in the software manager. AFTER it came down, it then
 disappeared from the software manager screen. I later found it under
 "Internet Apps" but it itself does not reside in the Software Manager

 I just downloaded ABIWORD on the x86 machine and it
 disappeared after down loading, too. Couldn't find
 it anywhere - - -


 5.2) MANAGING UPDATES OF SOFTWARE - comparison bewteen and handling of
 "MAJOR" & "MINOR" packages.

 From 5.1), a De-markation should be made obvious between "background"
 software and "full-time" or "major" software, in the software manager

 Personally I believe that all software should be in the software manager,
 maybe under separate headings - Major and Minor, or something similar.

 Does the minor software get updated under System Updates, or not at all ?
 This is another important question for the future - - -



 Great improvements have been made since Beta/RC-1. The crazy mouse wheel
 issue has been fixed and now works great, for example.

 Now in x86 32Bit :

 - The desktop is slow and clunky. For comparisons sake, Linux Mint-8
 "Fluxbox" is very fast and smooth, on the same machine.

 This area needs work ! This was how PC BSD 7 / 7.1 were before 7.1.1 came
 out - - -

 Now in both x86 and x64-AMD :

 - Mouse entered "scroll bar" scroll commands stack up entries and WON"T
 STOP SCROLLING when the left mouse button is released.

 This needs to be stabilized. Once I release the left mouse I want the
 screen to stop scrolling !!


 5.4) KTURTLE :) Thanks for getting KTurtle back into RC-2 under "Education
 Apps". This is such a cool program for kids and is useful for some day-to-
 day tasks, as its simple. And I can send it to other PCBSD users so that
 they can use the App. Useful - - - !

 *  *

 6.1) The PBI builder app could be better explained in its extraction and
 use. For example, there is no obvious "Run" button. Maybe it works
 differently. A basic "how-to-use" tutorial would be useful, for this
 important App.
 6.2) The BPM App. (Version 0.4.1b_16) looks very empty when downloaded !
 Does it work ? What does it do ? (BPM means "BSD Ports Manipulator").
 6.3 In Firefox 3.5.7, the whole machine is often halted when awaiting on
 the likes of YAHOO adverts, which are large, often animated, graphic
 files. I have fixed this a little by installing the Firefox "Add-On" which
 ignores such things.

 Can we maybe have it so that the machine will be free to do other things
 while waiting for Firefox to finish getting downloaded files from Yahoo ?
 This should be easier on a dual-core machine but actually the AMD machine
 used is a dual core and suffers from this problem just like the x86 32 bit
 single core does. So a puzzle right there – "compositing off" makes no
 difference, by the way.
 6.4) Often the Menu Boxes that I open cannot be read as the boxes are too
 small for the text to be shown, particularly when showing directory

 K3B has this bug in its menu windows, as does ARK. Maybe this is a bug in
 the underlying Windowing system that affects all Apps.

 *  *

 '''7) WISHLIST'''

 More Apps ported from FreeBSD. Particularly with the ability to :

 a) Input webcam images in realtime and hopefully connecting through to the
 video editor Apps. This seems to be available in FreeBSD, which uses
 "Video4Linux" software (which is available on FREEBSD) to achieve this.

 b) Also get Skype working with any webcam, directly in PCBSD.

 *  *

 '''8) CONCLUSION'''

 There are massive departures from the ideal with x86 install.

 - With the "full DVD" install I won't even begin to explain  what happens
 here. I cannot believe that the dev teams don't see  these massive
 departures from success before releasing stuff.

 I suggest that as part of the dev process, the dev/test teams get some
 older PC's and actually develop the installs on say 10 very different
 machines from the 2000, 2004, 2008 era's, AMD and Intel, with Video  Cards
 and without. If the install is easy go find another machine until
 difficulties arise !!! The same dev and test teams should also install
 Fedora 12 and Linux Mint * Fluxbox on these same machines for the
 experience and comparison.

 It took me 3 years to get PCBSD (versions 1 – 7) to work on a PC due to
 these kinds of issues. Things have improved but I don't want to have to
 keep spending half a day to install every PCBSD-8 RC !!

 Anyone should be able to install it in an hour with some work, perception
 and understanding. The install system needs to accommodate any combination
 of errors and system components.

 Manual intervention is AOK while the installer is evolving. At the moment
 little intervention is possible and is also made difficult bu a non-
 haltable selection table - see notes above.

 The fact is that the Linux Mint 8 installer is flawless, fast,
 all knowing, automatic and easy on the same machine that
 stopped the PCBSD-8 install in its tracks. The Linux Mint 8
 installer consumed 1/2 an hour of my time whereas the
 PCBSD-8 x86 installer consumed 1/2 a day and only finally happened because
 of my previous experience with the PCBSD install scenario.

 PCBSD-8 RC-2 IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC on my x64 machine !!!!!! (HP Pavilion
 a6130n - AMD 64 X2 DUAL CORE 5000+).

 PCBSD-8 is so fantastic on the x64 AMD that it is the system of choice for
 me. That's why I am spending the time to write this - PCBSD-8 is a
 fabulous concept and I want to contribute to it getting more widely used
 and even better, as time goes by.

 *   *   *

Ticket URL: <https://trac.pcbsd.org/ticket/252>
PC-BSD <http://trac.pcbsd.org>
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