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Running debian-installer within bochs and uml



Hi.

Because I don't have a cdrw burner nor a desire to reboot my computer with the
debian-installer mirror for installing, I've been trying to run debian-installer
within a bochs simulation session and uml.
Bochs is somewhat slow, but the alternative plex86 doesn't seem to support
networking. user-mode-linux doesn't support the mapping block devices as much
AFAIK, so one has to use the ubd devices.

I've made the following observations with bochs, some of which may be bugs (I
didn't check wither they're already reported or were resolved since I've
encountered it, though. I can do this if it's interesting at all.), others of
which will certainly not be bugs, but might be helpful to others who want to try
out debian-installer with bochs.

Then I've tried uml. For that I extended the call in the build/ makefile to the
following:
linux initrd=$(INITRD) root=/dev/rd/0 ramdisk_size=8192 \
   con=fd:0,fd:1 devfs=mount eth0=tuntap,,fe:fd:0:0:0:1,192.168.100.1 \
   ubd0=thedisk.img
thedisk.img being initialized with zeros.
I also found it useful to add a call of "reset" after the linux call.
I can get to the point where one has to create filesystems and mount partitions
easily, but the debian-installer create fs immediately exits with messages as
shown below.
Creating or creating and mounting the /dev/ubd/0 by hand didn't help me, either,
as I still could not continue the installation of the base system.
If noone else is looking into this, I might try to fiddle with the corresponding
udebs, I'd really like to be able to do some debian-installing without having a
spare computer. (Is there anyone currently using d-i on uml? After all, the
Makefile target is there.)
One of the more important things I was missing was an option to readjust the
priorty threshold for questions.

Cheers

Thomas

Some things I did that might be relevant for others testing d-i with bochs:
In the Bochs configuration:
- enable ne2k, floppy image (might use ro), create tun setup script (you need
  sudo for ifconfig)
- Default disk size isn't good for autopartkit.
- Non-English keyboard (mine is German) may have problems with special chars
  ("/","="). '/' is on the numeric keypad, but "=" isn't. I got around the "="
  issue by enabling x11-pc-us.map (us is on purpose) and using the paste option.
  Then, of course, the keyboard layout is funny once a keyboard layout is
  selected in the debian-installer.
- In d-i: ne module needs a param io=0x280, so you need to select questions of
  "low" priority

Some things with debian-installer itself:
- Observations: =,/ for German keyboards
  -> should keyboard table be loaded before network init?
- Messages=Medium: ne doesn't prompt for parameters, not installable
  should prompt me the second time around (similar to tfh's issue with
  autodetection)
- Along the same deal: Invalid installation source: users should be abler to
  eenter server instead of just retreiver when loading fails
- Download percentage is nan% (Maybe this is the lack of a FPU.)
- Locale has the choices (nb|nn|si)_NO|lv_LV ?
- Install base system doesn't succeed:
  [...]
  P: 46 47 Extracting packages
  I: Extracting /var/cache/apt/archives/whiptail_0.50.17-9.6_i386.deb...
  P: 47 47 Extracting packages
  I: Extracting /var/cache/apt/archives/mbr_1.1.5-1_i386.deb...
  P: 1 40 Installing base system
  I: Installing core packages...
  P: 2 40
  base-installer's postinst exited with status 256
  installer[46]: Setting main menu question priority to critical
  Debian Installer Main Menu
  [...]
- It stalled at the installing a kernel step.
  Don't really know what caused this.


------------
 11. Create a file system
Prompt: 1 - 18> 11
Debian Installer Main Menu

Choose a configuration step
This configuration step requires one or more configuration steps that have not
yet been performed. Please select a configuration step to continue.
  1. Automatically Partition Hard Drives (unsafe) (default)
  2. I have already partitioned the hard drive
  3. Partition a hard drive
Prompt: 1 - 3> 2
Warning: start=2 - this looks like a partition rather than
the entire disk. Using fdisk on it is probably meaningless.
[Use the --force option if you really want this]
di-utils-mkfs's postinst exited with status 5120
installer[42]: Setting main menu question priority to critical
Debian Installer Main Menu

Similar for Mount a Partition
or after
# mkdir /target
# mount /dev/ubd/0 /target -t ext2
Prompt: 1 - 18> 13
Debian Installer Main Menu

Choose a configuration step
This configuration step requires one or more configuration steps that have not
yet been performed. Please select a configuration step to continue.
  1. Automatically Partition Hard Drives (unsafe) (default)
  2. I have already mounted the partitions
  3. Mount a partition
Prompt: 1 - 3> 2
cp: /target/etc/fstab: No such file or directory
base-installer's postinst exited with status 256
installer[42]: Setting main menu question priority to critical
Debian Installer Main Menu


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