We test drive OpenSUSE’s D-installer, which is a browser-based distro installer for the ALP platform.
In a blog post last week, the OpenSUSE team introduced a new Linux distro installer called “D-installer”, which will be the primary installation method for the upcoming Adaptable Linux Platform (ALP).
The installer is currently undergoing testing, and I tested it on a virtual machine.
Here’s how it looks.
OpenSUSE – D-Installer
The name is quirky and complex to mention in places. The team is working on renaming it in the future.
Firstly, the boot screen is the normal screen which you see in the OpenSUSE installer. There’s no change in that. But the new D-installer starts after that.
On the first screen (or should I call it a page!), you get options to choose which OpenSUSE flavour you want to install – Leap or Tumbleweed. This screen is actually a web page running in the Firefox browser.
When the D-installer launches, it initiates a Firefox instance with all the options disabled (such as the context menu, hiding the address bar and so on). At the backend, it’s the web-based GUI cockpit running with D-installer as a localhost server.
In the next screen, you can choose the language, disk location and options to create a user account. However, I could not find any page for partitioning the disk. The installer detects the entire disk as the target location for installation (for my test in a virtual machine). If you plan to install it on a physical disk, be careful.
Finally, you can start the installation, which continues like a normal Linux installer. After you finish, it prompts you to reboot.
Do we really need another new installer?
Personally, I am not really fond of the web-based installer. Because the native desktop apps are already present, and they work just fine. For example, the Calamares installer is one the best out there, which is probably used by hundreds of distros today, including the key ones. Then you have Ubiquity and Fedora’s Anaconda installer.
However, there is a reason for using a web-based installer. Many businesses use the thin terminal, which requires remote connection and installation. Deploying a desktop app (like Calamares) to a remote terminal and initiating installation is complex. It’s easier to run an installer server to kick off the installation via URL. I believe for those commercial scenarios, the D-installer works best.
Download and Test
That said, if you want to try it, download the test images in the below links.
However, some bugs still need work since this is an early build and under testing. For example, I can easily pull down the address and other stuff. A lot needs to be corrected before it can become stable.
If you want to give your feedback or comments, reach out to this feedback page. Also, report the issues in GitHub.
So, what do you think about a web-based D-installer from OpenSUSE? Let me know in the comment box.