Comment 108 for bug 1265192

Colin Watson (cjwatson) wrote :

My profound apologies for our poor and slow response to this bug. It's clear that we need to do much better. I think my colleagues who've looked at this so far have focused on the detail of individual failures, which is an understandable response, but this bug needs us to step a bit further back than that. I've tried to analyse as many of the specific examples given here as I could, but this bug is very long and that length has itself I think deterred some developers from responding to it promptly; from here on in I'd appreciate it if any responses necessary could be kept short and to the point, so that we don't get further bogged down.

The root cause of this is essentially an overoptimistic design that assumes that we can always accurately detect the set of operating systems installed on the system. I can see why the designers of the current automatic partitioning page wanted that - it's obviously a desirable feature to have - but it is vital that we defend in depth against it being wrong. While we certainly should try to fix OS detection errors, a more fundamental principle needs to be that we do not mislead users into erasing valuable data because we made an OS detection error. OS detection must be treated as a useful advisory tool, and not something whose failure can result in the involuntary erasure of user data.

I generally agree with Clement Lefebvre (comment #38) and Chris Bainbridge (comment #80) that the problem lies in the descriptions selected for various basic automatic partitioning options; I'm not quite using their patches verbatim, but I'm taking a fairly similar approach. The "use_device" option must *never* be described in any terms that do not make it clear that it erases the disk. Furthermore, even if we believe that only Ubuntu is installed, we must offer separate "erase Ubuntu and reinstall" and "erase disk and install Ubuntu" options, because we might be wrong.

Chris Bainbridge has several good points in their rewording of the automatic partitioning options. However, it's critical that we be able to apply this patch to 14.04 point releases as smoothly as possible, and I don't want to run into translation delays (as it's important that non-English-speakers be able to understand these warnings too). The current text for ubiquity/partitioner/multiple_os_format is clear enough, I think ("Erase disk and install Ubuntu"; "Warning: This will delete all your programs, documents, photos, music, and any other files in all operating systems"), so I'm simply arranging never to use any other text to describe the "use_device" option. That saves having to worry about translation updates here.

I'm also inclined to agree at this point that a confirmation option is probably desirable. Again, I can absolutely see why the design ended up here, as it certainly gives us an installer with cleaner lines, but it seems cavalier to fail to be absolutely clear what's about to be done. Resurrecting the old confirmation page in its entirety would be pretty difficult at this point, and it had its own issues anyway, but we can probably at least manage a simple confirmation dialog. I'll look into that.