Re: Large scale installations of debian
> I'm working on a system for doing semi-automatic Debian installations (code
> name: deblab). It's more of a hack than an elegant solution but it works
> for us (tm) in our department (Debian on Sparc, Alpha and i386, different
> package lists for terminal and server).
Will this become fully automatic??
> Let me lay out the basic ideas:
> * Install the base system via the usual installation mediums; that's the
> reason why I call it semi-automatic; I'll take a look at the shell script
> Massimo Dal Zotto posted about some weeks ago to automate the first step too
Can we make this work with dhcp too??
> * after the reboot you skip the profiles and the dselect step and log in as
> * get the autoinstallation tarball via ftp or nfs
Why a tar-ball?? Why not a deb-package?
> * the following installation is done in three phases which are executed by a
> simple bash script:
> 1. configure apt and install some necessary packages (I use cfengine and
> expect as installation engines)
How are they defined?
> 2. invoke cfengine to do some preinstallation e.g. install /etc/exim.conf
> (exim skips the postinst if it finds a valid exim.conf), /etc/gpm.conf
> and similar cases
> 3. set the packages to install via dpkg --set-selections
> 4. start the installation via an expect-script which runs apt-get and answers
> the questions according to its data
How do you create the "data"???
> 5. invoke cfengine to do the postinstallation (copying site-wide master
> configuration files); e.g. hosts, hosts.allow, XF86Config, autofs, etc.
> 6. Voila, done ;-)
> Several drawbacks:
> - I didn't scan all installation scripts for interaction; I automated the
> scripts from the packages we use; potential users should give me feedback
> which scripts are missing
> - If it takes more than 8 minutes between two Setting up lines the expect
> script assumes that we are hanging because of a user interaction which
> isn't automated yet and will give the keyboard control back to the user
> to answer the question; on slow machines this timeout is too short for
> example when compiling the emacs calc package; after completing the user
> interaction expect resumes automatic mode
> - it's not general enough yet and probably very fragile
> What are the configuration files ?
> You need templates for some of your config files like exim.conf, most config
> files will be site-wide the same. You need a reference package list,
> a simple text database of the answers for the expect script and a cfengine
> configuration for later maintenance.
> I'll test the setup today and tomorrow in our department and could put
> together a Debian package over the weekend if somebody is interested.
> Note however that you should regard the package as an alpha thingie.
> But perhaps we can get it in a more general usable state 'til the release
> of potato.
This sounds like a good start. I do belive however that there should be
some changes in the format of the debian-package to make it work
non-interactive. I do belive that all scripts that are in install or
uninstall should be able to run uninteractive if asked to!
Erik Bågfors | http://www.acc.umu.se/~bagfors/
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Center for Parallel Computers
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