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Re: redesigning the debian installer

On Tue, 19 Sep 2000, Torsten Landschoff wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 19, 2000 at 10:47:20AM +0200, Sebastien Chaumat wrote:
> >  Let me explain replicator's point of view. We assume that we want to
> > install 99% identical contents on all of our computers
> > (classrooms, desktops computers in our lab). So we use rsync to
> > speed things up and, at the end of the install we do the 1% leaving job.
> You need a decent network for that. That's not always available. It is
> nice if you have it though.

Right. There in France it should be the case in all educational
sites. Anyway I would say replicator is an easy/fast solution for
networked site.

> >  Partitionning is auto-scalable to handle different harddisks sizes.
> Very nice feature. I still have to check (and grab :) the code. BTW: iirc
> replicator is only available as .deb. Is there a source package somewhere?

 The code IS the source cause it's only perl scripts :-)

> >  We recommend cfengine in post-installation (as a front end to apt if we 
> > want to deal with packages).
> I have to say that I partly hate and partly love cfengine. We are configuring
> our systems using it but I am looking for an alternative. Some utility that
> is better suited for editing config files...
> >  It's a lot (really) faster than unpacking packages.
> Depends on the network ;) Unpacking is quite fast on our systems here but
> configuring takes a lot of time...

 I should have written faster than unpacking/configuring :-) But 10Mbps
network is ok. At 100Mbps harddrive speed is the actual limit :-)

> >  Using grub on our magical bootdisk allow to use a single floppy for all
> > the target computers.
> Can you explain what you mean with this? Not that I am against using grub...

 We suppose the computers we want to install are already in the DNS and
in replicators config files. Then we generate a grub menu that allow with
only one floppy to select the computer to install (in fact it selects
correct boot parameters for the kernel on the floppy). Then the computer
boot on a shared NFS root partition and it find its hostname with the
dns. Then (when classes are implemented) replicator can know which class
the "target" is in.  

> >  Replicator as been designed for Debian 2.1 and 2.2. We would be pleased
> > to include it into Woody. We are moving to sourceforge to open
> > devellopement so all good willing are welcome to help improving it. It's
> You aren't a Debian developer?

 Not yet (though I'm also working on NIS+ for Debian) but I'd love to
apply.   Anyway the other (and historical) author of Replicator is Loic
Prylli who maintained mailx and worked on the alpha port of Linux. 

> > already used in production environment. We want to implement class based
> > install.
> Nice, another feature I would need. Sadly (or luckily, depends on POV) I
> can't test it here since our systems are working fine for over a year now.
> Perhaps I will accidently wipe the disks so that I can test the installer
> there ;)

 I use VMware for that. It's a unvaluable tool to develop  software
like replicator which deals with installing OS.


Sebastien CHAUMAT           
Ecole Normale Superieure     Laboratoire de Physique
46, Allée d'Italie           +33 4 72 72 84 66  fax: +33 4 72 72 81 81
69364 LYON CEDEX 07 FRANCE   E-mail : schaumat@ens-lyon.fr

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