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Re: Questions about building a Debian Custom Disk

On Thu, Dec 28, 2006 at 07:28:54PM -0500, lloyd@paisite.com wrote:
> As work in progress toward building the Debian Creative Arts Custom
> Distribution, my son and I have studying the docs and have tried to work
> through the Wiki tutorial. But a number of issues have stumped us:
> As primary documentation we've been studying:
> a) -- http://wiki.debian.org/CustomDebian
> b) -- http://wiki.debian.org/DebianCustomCD
> c) -- http://wiki.debian.org/Simple-CDD

> 1) The documentation pulls us in divergent directions; has left us quite
> baffled.
> There seem to be several methods for building CDDS: e.g. b,c,e.

yes, there are several different methods. while there may be
commonalities between different CDDs, there are also differing needs for
the target audience of the CDD, and different skill-sets of the people
deeloping the CDD. apparently, nobody has produced the perfect suite of
CDD related software. :)

to make things a little more confusing, some also may also technically
be more of a Debian Derived Distribution(DDD), if they choose to include
components or use tools outside of Debian itself. and some projects may
have the goal of being a "True" CDD, though have been unable to
integrate all of their changes directly into Debian. a CDD is something
entirely within Debian, though the tools for creating CDDs and DDDs tend
to be very similar, if not identical.

i will address the features of simple-cdd, as i wrote it and am aware of
it's strengths and weaknesses.

> -- in the above documentation, what should we study most carefully?
> -- are there any documentation sources that we're over-looking?
> -- are the documentation sources accurate and up-to-date?

simple-cdd documentation needs a fair amount of work, and to be updated
for etch. but the basic use of simple-cdd is, well... pretty simple, so
it shouldn't be too hard to update the documentation :)

> -- how should we select the most appropriate method?

it really depends on what your needs are, and what seems to work for
you. defining clearly exactly what you want will probably help determine
which documentation and tools would be most appropriate.

> -- What are the differences between the methods?
> -- What are the relative benefits of one method over another, etc.

simple-cdd allows you to specify a list of packages to install,
pre-answer debconf questions, and takes that information and generates a
CD image that will install those packages. it is possible to create
several profiles that can be selected at install time, each with
different package sets, debconf questions, etc.

if all the software you want as part of your CDD is part of etch,
simple-cdd should be able to generate a CD image without a lot of
trouble. if you want some additional packages outside of debian, it is
also possible, though maybe more work.

if all you want is to select which packages to install, using simple-cdd
should be as easy as providing a list of packages you want installed and
using simple-cdd to generate a CD image.
> a) Build the debian-installer and move it to an appropriate directory
> b) Configure debian-cd
> c) Generate the CD

with simple-cdd you shouldn't have to generate a debian-installer image
for most cases(it uses the debian-installer binaries built for Debian),
and it handles the debian-cd configuration and CD generation.
> Our confusion starts once we get past this superficial level; e.g....
> 3) How do we specify which packages to install?
in simple-cdd, you define this by providing a list of packages to
install in a text file, one package per line. if you want multiple
profiles(a.k.a.  variants), you provide a list of packages for each

> -- do we have to specify every single package down through the base
> system, or just the packages that we want to show up in the menus?

in simple-cdd, you usually only have to specify what packages you want,
and simple-cdd will make sure the dependencies will be included on the
> Our understanding is that we need to build meta-packages. But

you don't need to use meta-packages with simple-cdd, but it would be
useful to create meta-packages if you wanted to make it possible to
provide an upgrade mechanism if you later change your mind about what
software should be included as part of your CDD- simple-cdd (currenly)
only handles installation, not upgrading.
> 4) We'd really like to build from etch. But most of the docs seem to
> address Sarge. Is it premature to build from etch? What are the
> differences?

there's been recent work to get simple-cdd working with etch, and i have
sucessfully produced some etch CD images using it.

unfortunately, simple-cdd wasn't ready to upload before the etch freeze,
so will still be officially outside of debian for a while. i think it's
(nearly) ready to upload now, if i can find a sponsor :)

good luck with your work.

live well,

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