the Anaconda interface redesign

*Update November 12, 2012 to add links to posts by Mackenzie that discussed the redesign also*

The forthcoming Fedora 18 release will contain a seriously overhauled version of the tool used to install Fedora, Anaconda. The most highly visible change to Anaconda (yes, there were other improvements too) is the overhaul of the graphical installer interface itself (codenamed newui by the anaconda developers).

When I install Fedora, i typically install by the defaults. I just want the default partitioning. I just want the default package sets. I just want the newest, shiniest fedora on my laptop now.

The old Anaconda (Fedora 17 and earlier)

Using the previous installer, (up until Fedora 17), installing with just the defaults involved clicking though several pages, none of which I typically change, until finally I get to the all important “Install” button. Then I get a well deserved coffee to revive my clicking finger.


New Anaconda (Fedora 18 onwards)

The new anaconda interface now presents you with a single page of information right at the beginning of the install process. (After choosing your language). This page basically outlines to you what defaults have been chosen, and lets you drill down into them to make changes (if you need to).

So, for the fresh-install, love the defaults user like me, it’s pretty close to a one-click install. For the user that wants to be able to tweak their settings before installation, the single page gives you an overview of the installation settings, and lets you change just the ones you want.

Where did these interface changes come from?

These design changes have been in the works for a while. Even though I personally have not been heavily involved with the design process itself, a recent post from David Cantrell to fedora-devel outlines how long this has been worked on:

For the newui work, initial discussions started at FUDCon Tempe, through the year, and then again at FUDCon Blacksburg. After that, more design work continued, soliciting for user feedback as much as possible.

I have also been following the design discussion that has surrounded the development of the anaconda newui through the series of blogposts (Starting in June 2011) from Máirín Duffy:

*Update November 12, 2012* — As pointed out by Máirín in the comments, the Fedora Design Summer Intern, Mackenzie also posted designs and requests for comments on the anaconda redesign:

It is also important to note that the newui is a huge overhaul, and a lot of work for the anaconda developers. A lot of the functionality that is in the design mockups will not be in Fedora 18, it is slated for inclusion in Fedora 19. According to David Cantrell, this was the plan from the beginning:

we new it would be absolutely impossible to deliver all functionality in a single release. So from the beginning we were planning to stage the newui work across multiple releases.

How to help

This is a huge change for the better for the Fedora installer. The best way to help is to try out the Beta versions of Fedora 18 and provide feedback to the anaconda development team via bugzilla or IRC (#anaconda)