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Re: ISO download difficult

Paul Wise <pabs@xxxxxxxxxx> writes:
> On Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 2:10 PM, Russ Allbery wrote:

>> I'm certainly fine to put work into this for those who want to use it,
>> but I never boot any existing OS before installing Debian, and I'm sure
>> I'm not alone.  It's extremely useful to be able to install Debian on
>> bare metal (or a newly-replaced factory hard drive) or on a system
>> whose existing OS install is hopelessly broken.

> I'd wager that the win32-loader style approach is vastly more
> user-friendly for inexperienced users than existing workflows,
> especially in the face of WiFi/Ethernet chips that require non-free
> firmware loaded by the OS.

I think that's probably true, but it also has prerequisites that may not
be achievable.  In other words, it's more user-friendly except when it's
completely impossible (because the existing system doesn't boot, for
instance).  Other OS installers work fine in that situation if the
hardware is capable of booting from USB.  There's no need for us to be

Also, user-friendliness is not just for inexperienced users.  There's
nothing wrong with making Debian more user-friendly for experienced
users.  Just because we *can* do firmware sideloading doesn't mean we
should *force ourselves* to do this.

> Of course the OS-free manual download, manually figure out which
> firmware is needed, manually write to media and manually figure out how
> to boot d-i approach is going always to be necessary for experts and
> certain situations.

I'm certainly not arguing for removing this as an option.  I am arguing
for challenging ourselves to do better than that for as many cases as we
can, because that's not a fun experience.  Even those of us who thoroughly
understand Debian deserve to have fun and relatively pain-free experiences
installing our operating system!

We don't need to put ourselves through unnecessary pain out of some sense
of self-flagellation for using non-free software in a situation where it's
unavoidable without replacing hardware.  GNU software went to extensive
effort to be easily and painlessly installable on non-free operating
systems because the FSF recognized that this compromise was good for the
overall political cause of free software.  I believe this is similar.

Russ Allbery (rra@xxxxxxxxxx)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>