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Friday April 18th 2014

Gentoo 12.1 Install Wizard: Real or Joke





gentoo linuxGentoo released 12.1 on April Fool’s Day. I included it in my jokes roundup. But the Gentoo announcement has an added a message to users and jokesters: The installer is real.

I said in that post that the best jokes are the ones you almost believe. But perhaps that wasn’t quite accurate. Maybe the most crafty of all are those that are real but seem like a joke. That’s the sum of the Gentoo installer. A Gentoo installer is a difficult beast to construct, I understand that. At one time the very nature of Gentoo conflicted with the traditional binary installer. However, the Gentoo team has been promoting Stage 3 installs for quite some time. What is a Stage 3 install? It’s the nearly complete install of a binary system from a tarball that needs to be rebuilt before adding all your goodies. So, why not have an install wizard like Sabayon?

But every time Gentoo tried to include an installer, it turned into a big ole mess. Sabayon finally got the right idea: set good middle ground flags and options and then install a binary system with Anaconda. From there with Gentoo users could rebuild their system or just use it as is. It’d need to come with a lot of applications, which is why Sabayon has grown so large and has a complimentary binary repository.

However, Gentoo claims they do have a new "feature when the date happens to be April 1st: The most intelligent Gentoo Install Wizard yet!" I downloaded Gentoo 12.1 immediately upon hearing of its release, but I also saw a couple of folks say they couldn’t find any installer. But the cryptic message did include these little caveats: make sure the date is April 1 and a Linux-supported webcam plugged in.

Well, my old webcam was Linux supported for a while with extra drivers and for a short while those drivers were included in some distros. But its been out-of-support for some time now. I can set my BIOS date back, but I’ll probably miss something due to the webcam issue. I have another that never had any support (a gift).

Well, Let’s See

There were no new options in boot menu nor the advanced options, but on the desktop was an Install Wizard icon. It looked promising. But alas, it was indeed an April Fool’s Joke. Upon clicking the icon and little dialog box appears asking "Are you the wizard?" You can either click OK or wait 2 seconds and it’ll disappear by itself.

As suspected, my webcams were detected, but not supported. So, I missed the punchline. In looking at the install script, it was clear that MPlayer was supposed to open the webcam channel and show you looking at yourself. They should have asked "Do you see a monkey?"

Then the script was supposed to open Firefox to the Gentoo install handbook.

So, yes it was a real icon and a real script designed for fun, but no it is not an installer.  It is probably the "most  intelligent Gentoo Install Wizard yet", but the bar was set pretty low.

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