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debconf (Re: redesigning the debian installer)

Massimo Dal Zotto wrote:
> > You're essentially suggesting that we don't use debconf.
> > 
> > Ok, I'm open to that suggestion. What does this method give us that
> > using a debconfish scheme does not?
> No, using debconf is ok. I don't see any other way to do it.
> I am only suggesting that it should be possible to do the debconf
> configuration in a separate step from the installation and store the
> debconf db for each machine on a floppy for later use.

Ok. It's theoretically possible to generate a debconf db by just pulling
in every debconf question the installer can possibly ask, and then use
some sort of a database browser/editor program to fill in answers.
You're not really using debconf to do this mind you. Then you feed the
doctored db to an install.

Good enough? Note that the db browser isn't written, but can be. It
would run on a full linux system.

> I also suggest that we can merge more debconf databases during the
> installation step, for example a default profile with very general
> configurations, a class profile (home, workstation, server, firewall)
> and a host specific profile (hostname, ipaddr, keyboard, mouse, monitor).

There's a whole unimplemented part of the debconf specification that
deals with exactly this. It allows merging and overlaying databases.
Someone should implement it.

> > > I would like also to have the possibility to store installation
> > > profiles as debconf databases on a floppy or another locations,
> > > and to be able to provide a set of configuration files created in
> > > advance for each machine, for example hosts, groups, exports, etc.
> > > and not to be prompted when the required information can be found
> > > in those files.
> > 
> > That's what debconf is all about, really.
> Yes, but can we do this with the new bootfloppies? I'm not speaking about
> debconf here, but about the installation system which uses debconf. Can we
> save and load different pre-stored profiles?

Given the respone on this list, I think it's a must. (And I was planning
on supporting it anyway.)

Saving: after the debian-installer installs the base system, it simply
        writes its debconf database to some place inside the newly installed
        system. Probably it writes it directly to the new system's debconf

Loading: Move the data from the already installed system to each new
         install somehow, hopefully by the network, and with an option of
	 just dropping a debconf db file onto the boot floppy.

> This is more or less what I've done in my hackish slink auto-installer.
> It doesn't use debconf and doesn't have a configuration interface but I
> can create profiles with a text-editor and load them for the installation.
> It has been used by people knowing only ms-windows to install a lot of
> machines in production environments. It is not perfect but this the way
> people needs it.

I'm really glad you're involved with this redesign since you have
practical experience with automated debian installs.

see shy jo

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