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Re: Announcing FAI 1.0 (Fully automatic Installation)

> > > I'm very happy to announce the first release of FAI (Fully automatic
> > > installation).
> > > 
> > > FAI is a non interactive system to install a Debian Linux operating
> > > system on a PC cluster. You can take one or more virgin PCs, turn on
> > > the power and after a few minutes Linux is installed, configured and
> > > running on the whole cluster, without any interaction necessary. In

Being interested in automatic installation I have had a very quick look at
the FAI technical report. The general impression is that while working in
their context the method is not suitable for general use for the following

1)	it needs a running server with a special setup.

2)	it works only via NFS. This means that you can't install directly
	a machine from an official debian cd (and probably from any cd)
	or from a debian http site.
	So you can't use it for newbie installation of a single machine
	which is one of the great reasons for having an auto-installation.

3)	it needs NFS root, a special kernel with NFS root support and the
	setup of TFTP and BOOTP. The ramdisk method seems much more easier
	to set-up and should work on any machine with a minimum amount of

4)	the method of configuring the packages is really ugly. It doesn't
	solve at all the main problem with debian installation which is
	the interaction with postinst scripts.
	The `yes | dpkg --configure' won't work in general, unless every
	question provides a good default value and accepts a Return as
	valid answer.

5)	it requires a reboot and leaves the machine in an unconfigured
	state before running the second phase of the installation.

6)	it uses cfengine instead of debconf. Not knowing anything about the
	two tools I can't say if this is a pro or a con.

> > 
> > One question: Is FAI _only_ a setup method for a cluster or is it also 
> > a aesy setup method for serveral computers without being a cluster?
> Define "cluster".  In the Koeln meaning a cluster is a pool of similar
> pc boxes all running Debian.
> > If so, then we should integrate it ... as a seperated package into 
> > the boot-floppies tree (and the ftp sites; /potato/main/disks-$arch/multiple)
> It would kick ass if we could provide a similar functionality to install
> Debian on a couple of machines without big interaction of the sysadmin.

I already have a similar functionality and I'm using it from months to allow
the installation of debian systems to people who don't know at all unix,linux
and debian. From my point of view it works better than FAI because it is
better integrated with debian and is more general.
Furthermore it can do the installation indifferently from cd, hardddisk, nfs,
ftp and http. My method uses a floppy or a directory on the cd or the install
server to store the configurations for the individual machines. 

If there is some interest in an automatic installation system I can offer
my experience and discuss the subject on this list.

Massimo Dal Zotto

|  Massimo Dal Zotto               email: dz@cs.unitn.it               |
|  Via Marconi, 141                phone: ++39-0461534251              |
|  38057 Pergine Valsugana (TN)      www: http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/  |
|  Italy                             pgp: finger dz@tango.cs.unitn.it  |

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