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Bug#780811: debian-installer: Netinst throws error when MATE is selected in "Software, selection"

retitle 780811 separate /home partition too small for MATE on small systems

On Sat, 21 Mar 2015 00:11:08 +0100 Christian MOMON
<christian.momon@devinsy.fr> wrote:
> Le 19/03/2015 19:55, Cyril Brulebois a écrit :
> > Hi,
> > [...]
> > It looks like 3.6GB is too small for both Gnome and MATE. If
> > installing with Gnome then MATE once rebooted into the installed
> > system works, I suspect that's because of the cache directory
> > holding downloaded packages: holding both desktops' .deb and
> > installing takes too much space compared to installing one after
> > the other.
>  Using the ctrl-alt-F4 shell when error occured:
> # df -h /target/.
> Filesystem	Size	Used	Available
> Use%	Mounted on /dev/sda1	3.3G
> 3.3G		0	100%	/target
> # (lot of commands because "du" is not available in Busybox...):
> 724 092 158 bytes for /target/var/cache/apt/archives/*
>  73 783 868 bytes for /target/var/cache/apt/archives/*mate*
>  I used the default partition action with "home separated". As my disk
> has 12GB, the default partition action create a target '/' partition
> of only 3.3GB.
>  Why 3.3GB?
>  Why not more?
>  What is the definition of default size for '/'?
>  What is the method of calculation for this value?
>  Is there technical constraints?
>  Where is the file of debian-installer with the calculation?
>  I restarted the same operations with a '/' partition of 10GB and no
> issue occured. So, it confirms your diagnostic.
> > I'm afraid there's little we can do in d-i for that.
>  At first, I thought it affected everyone using MATE. But in fact, if
> only small disks are concerned then this is less urgent.
>  In a first step, a solution could be to expand the label message in
> the "Software selection" input window. I suggest something like that
> (better english is required):
> "If you select all the packages, pay attention to have a size greater
> than xGB for the '/' partition. Set a value too small will cause an
> error in next step installation."
>  Perhaps a label change is runnable in d-i.

The separate /home partition and other "recipes" for partitioning are
generic for a whole range of different installations and there will
always be corner cases and problems with particular combinations. There
is no perfect answer. At the point where the partitioning is
calculated, package selection has not been made and it is perfectly
reasonable that 3.6G would be enough for a standard system (i.e. a
system without a desktop).

There is no way, during the install, to estimate the final installation
size of a particular taskset with any degree of accuracy. The range of
tasks available for install is too wide to anticipate what the limit
should be and the MATE task is by no means "all" the packages available.

Using Guided partitioning to use the entire disk instead of selecting a
separate /home partition is the simplest option to ensure that the
install works on small systems. Alternatively, you can manually
tweaking the size but it is always a risk when choosing to use
automatic partitioning recipes that the final system just doesn't work,
especially for small systems.


Neil Williams

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