SEUL Install Specfication v0.01


Installation starts with booting and ends when the chosen software is installed and the hardware working. Partitioning is outside of this specification. Please read the following notice about the optional pre install phase which can be found in THE SEUL PRE INSTALL SPECIFICATION.




The SEUL INSTALL SPECIFICATION does not cover the pre install  phase made in DOS.  It starts with a hard disk with available space, a computer which is rebooting and having either a boot floppy or a bootable CD-ROM in the corresponding reader.

There are many variables to be defined.  SEUL anticipates the correct values. The user is provided a means to override the values that SEUL provides in the case that SEUL guessed incorrectly.



SEUL install includes some basics at LILO prompt
We are limited to 24 lines.
  • Monitor  (color or monochrome)
  • Keyboard choice:  (selection in a menu)

  • Looks in the DOS partition if there is one for the file with hardware info left by the DOS pre install phase.
    One of the benefits is than we could get some info than we cannot get from Linux at present time like characteristics of Plug and Play Monitors.
  • Ask about installation media



If the CD-ROM is IDE or SCSI and the controller is PCI, then the user is not  asked what type it is or if it is hdb, hdc, or hdd.  SEUL install gets the info from /proc and the output of dmesg.
For systems with proprietary CD-ROM's the user  may be required to enter an IRQ, port combination.  If the user does not know them SEUL install asks the user to insert another floppy and presents the user with possible values.
Space is at premium on boot floppies so there is a chance we will be unable to include a CD database in the boot floppy.
In addition SEUL asks the user to allow SEUL to probe all valid combinations until hitting the correct one.
This can lock up Linux especially if an Ethernet card is around.  However it is believed that -this is an option, -if it does not work no harm is done -- the user just reboots. Ordinary users rarely have Ethernets at home, -it will work for some people so will have made the install simpler for some people without making it harder for the remainder.


SEUL install advises users about suitable partitioning, considering available disk space and memory size.  The heuristics that SEUL provides are read from a file. SEUL instal allows for easy adjustments without having to hack the partitioning program.

SEUL install establishes partitions and mount points and reboots.
Since there a risk of a corrupting the file system if the the user changes the partition table. The safe thing to do is to reboot to be sure than the kernel reads the new partition table.

SEUL Install saves the mount points and CD-ROM info on the boot floppy.
Since a corrupt file system may lead to the loss of some of the data that SEUL install generated. This saves the the user from having to redefine CD-ROM, keyboard and mount point varaibles when rebooting.
SEUL install does a mkswap and mkfs partitions
Doing a mkfs on the partitions the user has marked to do allows the user to keep a previous /home.


The user is able to select software according to the role the user intends to use the computer.  If the user wants to do package selection, in the first screen the user only gets categories of software.
In general SEUL install avoids requiring the user to make more decisions than are needed. This way the user is not forced to look at software the user is not  interested in at all. This avoids confusion effects.  A user may be disheartened by a long list of software of uninteresting software before getting the things the user wants. 

SEUL install provides a description of the category represented. Selecting categories selects lists of individual install packages. SEUL install provides descriptions.
The user is not asked about dynamic libraries.  These are installed if the user installs a package needing them.  There is no dependency prompts for libraries.
They tend to confuse users.

Dependencies are resolved at end of install
Prompting and reprompting about dependencies is confusing and irritating.
After dependency completion SEUL checks if there is enough space.  SEUL install checks at the partition level rather rather than the global level.

Select the Xserver using the following rules.

  • If the box has a PCI bus SEUL install deduces the X server to install.
  • If the card is supported only in VGA mode SEUL install notifies the user.
  • If the user has a non PCI box, SEUL install asks the user for video card info.

Keyboard choice:  (selection in a menu)

If the card is supported only in VGA mode SEUL install notifies the user.  If the user has a non PCI box, SEUL install asks the user for video card information.

Packages are installed.



SEUL install asks the user If their is an Ethernet card to configure.
Without ethernet SEUL skips to ppp otherwise SEUL install uses the following rules.
  • If the ethernet card is PCI or PNP SEUL install may detect it.
  • If it isn't found, SEUL install asks the user.
PPP install is done if the user says there is a modem for dial-up IP.
SEUL install configures PPP
The computer is assigned a hostname and the dummy interface is configured.
Too many distributions just abandon to his fate the user unfortunate enough to not be in a LAN.  SEUL users get correct networking whether they be in a LAN or in a dial-up context.


Ask about services to start but this need necessarily to take the form of the user selecting them one by one.  Some of them should be started automatically like autofs, others can be deduced (no lpd if the user has no printer, no NFS if the user is not in a LAN).


SEUL install avoids kernel compilation.
Compilation is avoided by installing one of the several optimally working kernels with the correct modules.  The set of kernels to choose from are cleverly designed to provide each user with a optimal kernel.
At this stage SEUL install knows enough to be able to infer much about the users configuration:
  • CPU (thanks to /proc/cpuinfo)
  • PCI bus (and the controllers),
  • root partition is on an SCSI disk.
About the only thing we can't be know nis if advanced networking is required (firewall,router)
After asking about advanced networking SEUL determines the optimal kernel to install.
That kernel has sound support without need for recompiling (entirely modular).  In case SEUL gets it wrong two kernels are installed.  The optimal kernel and the kernel which was used to install.
The latter kernel provides a safety net in case the production kernel is overwritten. It could be accidental or a miss compiled a kernel.

Modify /proc/cmdline

 About the module problem (not mixing modules for the two kernels) the simplest seems to pass an argument when booting the safety kernel. It is used by /proc/cmdline to modify the module path:/lib/modules/safety/version instead of /lib/modules/version.

Install LILO

Install on the MBR without asking unless one of two conditions is true.
  • SEUL finds: NT, OS/2 or An unreferrenced Linux partition.

  • The user has another OS or Linux installation
  • The user has another mechanism for booting

  • like floppy or LOADLIN.
 SEUL LILO uses national keyboard.


This is invisible to the user.
SEUL places in the /etc/profile environment variables that can be deduced from install.
E.g. the language variables (it can be deduce from keyboard choice) allows SEUL install to select the users language for messages and links to hypertext documentation in the users language.

Phase 1


SEUL installs a script that runs at the first reboot.
  • It asks the user to create a non-root user.
  • It explains how this is for the users protection.
  • It may ask for experience level to customize the UI for the user.


SEUL install prompts the user for mail and news.
This is vital for the user to get help.

If the user is on a dial-up site SEUL install arranges for email and news transmission and retrieval when PPP is started.


Put things right with sound isapnp and sndconfig


Auto detect of printers is attempted.
Possible with modern printers


Check for 24h operation to choose housekeeping scheme. Unless a scheme that works for both  is developed.


Because of there are risks it is left to the end.  This saves the user the trouble of reinstalling if something goes wrong.

 At present, Xconfigurator's hardware autodetection ability makes it the best match to SEUL's target users.However many times it does not provide the user with a perfect setting.  E.g. the image is too small or not centered.
To correct this SEUL install starts xvidtune and put its results into the XF86Config. SEUL install also instructs users how to use it. SEUL install does not assume than users will automatically want the highest color depth/resolution/refresh rate. SEUL install gives users a way to select
Users with low end cards will have to make choices. 24bpp is not a good idea for 1 M RAM video card.

Ask the user about XDM.

Considering the UI, It is generally a good idea to have more than one resolution configured, however X will use the highest real resolution as the lowest limit for the virtual resolution.  But the combination of a virtual resolution != real resolution and virtual desktops that you can move on by pressing the mouse against the edge is confusing to enough users that it would be a good idea to disable this way of switching virtual desktops. (EdgeResistance 100)

Phase 2

This page maintained by Randy Heineke. Please report any technical problems to
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