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Partman-nbd plans


So, I just uploaded the first version of partman-nbd to unstable (which
happened just a few minutes ago as of this writing, so I don't know
whether it's through NEW when you read this).

It still needs some minor work; but this version is already perfectly
usable, and I am a strong believer in the 'release early' part of
'release early, release often'.

The way forward looks somewhat like this:
- Make sure all kernel udeb packages also build an nbd-modules udeb, so
  that this can actually work. Unless I hear objections within a
  reasonable timeframe, I'll commit a change to that effect to all
  architectures' kernel udeb packages.
- Make sure that users who want to, can use it, without confusing users
  who just want to install Debian on a 'normal', non-diskless, system.
- Fix the kernel command line if necessary, and handle bootloader
- Patch it so that it also supports name-based exports (a new feature in
  NBD, which currently is only supported in sid, but the plan is that it
  will be supported in wheezy as well).

I'm hoping to work on most of that during the coming month, also during
debcamp and debconf, but no guarantees.

Regarding the 'confusing' bit, I'm not sure that enabling partman-nbd by
default is necessarily the right thing to do. When partman-nbd is loaded
into the installer, the partman menu currently shows an option
'Configure the Network Block Device', where users can connect and
disconnect NBD devices. I believe this is fairly clear, but I'm probably
biased, and I can imagine it sounding unclear to uninitiated users. I
had considered using something more generic, like 'Configure networked
storage,' instead (which could then also be used for hypothetical
support for iSCSI, AoE or similar things), but that could confuse users
even more into thinking this was something specific to NAS devices,
which it isn't (well, not really).

Alternatively, there could be another flavour for 'diskless' installs,
which could be specifically tailored to installing to machines that
don't have local storage. However, such a flavour would probably not be
useful before we actually support more than just NBD.

Worst case, it should be possible to just make partman-nbd a udeb the
user can select during the 'load additional components' phase of the
installer, but I'd prefer not to have to tell users that they need to go
to expert mode if it can be reasonably avoided.


The volume of a pizza of thickness a and radius z can be described by
the following formula:

pi zz a

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