Bug#220949: install: Installer overwrites user data without warning
Justification: causes serious data loss
Well, this report is perhaps alarmist, but it is true. I was testing
whether the installer could be booted manually from the CD on powerpc.
I managed to boot it from an HFS partition, where I had placed files
from the CD.
Once I got the installer booted, I thought I would mount the HFS
partition and try removing some of the files from it which I thought
were not used, to re-test booting with them removed. Rather than using
console 2, I saw the 'Configure and mount partitions' menu item, and
chose it (partconf). I selected the hard disk partition I wanted to
mount, and told the installer to leave the existing filesystem alone,
and mount it on root (the default selection).
Well, then I selected Finish, knowing the partition would not really
be mounted until I did so. But unfortunately you can imagine what
The installer took off, having its partconf dependency satisfied,
and debootstrap started installing debs. I was a little amused,
I figured 'OK, I'll have a bunch of unix files on my Mac partition'.
it eventually got an error, d-i segfaulted and started respawning,
6000 process numbers used by the time I saw it on console 3, and
the shell was almost unusable due to the cpu activity. I did get
it rebooted from console 2 eventually.
Mounting the disk in MacOS, I see no Unix files. However as I started
looking at the Mac files that were there, I realized they had been
corrupted. Applications gave error messages when I tried to use
them. The file's contents had been overwritten by the debs from
debootstrap, using ext2 filesystem semantics I suppose, leaving the
HFS desktop file intact but overwriting the files themselves.
So this entire partition's contents are trash. I have no idea what
might be good or bad. Say, it's a good thing I haven't used MacOS
in a long time. But I did have many valuable items there.
This disaster could be prevented by refusing to install on an HFS
filesystem, or partconf could refuse to mount such filesystems at
the standard unix mount points.
I think it just points out the kind of dangers we face when we take
something that's been manual in the past and automate it. I was
still interpreting the Configure and mount partitions step to be
like it was in boot-floppies; it would do that and nothing else.
Now, it does much more and resulted in the loss of my data.
I'm also going to add something in the powerpc boot.msg telling how to
set the debconf priority for 'manual mode'. If the priority had been
set to medium, I assume the menu would work one step at a time as it
did in boot-floppies.
-- System Information:
Debian Release: testing/unstable
Kernel: Linux iMacBlue.cox.net 2.4.22-powerpc #1 Sat Sep 27 04:08:08 CEST 2003 ppc
Locale: LANG=C, LC_CTYPE=C
Debian GNU/Linux Operating System
By the People, For the People
Chris Tillman (a people instance)
toff one at cox dot net