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Bug#989124: grub-installer: occasional failure to install grub (when two DEs selected)

Philip Hands <phil@hands.com> (2021-05-26):
> Dear Maintainer,

Dear Bug Reporter,


> While testing under openQA (so in qemu/kvm) if selecting more than one DE,
> somthing like one in ten installs will fail to install grub, resulting in an
> unbootable system.
> Given that this is only happening in the unusual circumstance of selecting
> multiple desktops, and even then is only an intermitent bug, I've tagged it as
> minor.
> An example of this can be found here:
>   https://openqa.debian.net/tests/4457
> which one can see hanging at the initial boot screen, rather than booting to a login prompt.
> One of the assets being collected it a dump of the start of the target block
> device, which in the failing case looks like this:
>   https://openqa.debian.net/tests/4457/file/complete_install-dev_vda_dump.txt
> whereas when things are working it looks like this:
>   https://openqa.debian.net/tests/4439/file/complete_install-dev_vda_dump.txt
> I have tried making it collect data earlier during the install
> but doing so resulted in bug going away.
> [I had it flip to the console when mandb is being installed, as that sits on the
> screen for quite a while so provides a good trigger for the action, and run a
> few commands to collect state, then flip back to the graphical screen.]
> BTW The syslog from that failing run is here:
>   https://openqa.debian.net/tests/4457/file/complete_install-syslog.txt
> If there's more information that could usefully be collected, please mention
> what you think might help and I'll add it to the openqa scripts.

Comparing complete_install-syslog.txt for both runs, this feels icky (as
I think I already pointed out on IRC when you first asked):


        May 25 21:09:07 grub-installer: info: Installing grub on ''


        May 25 14:58:08 grub-installer: info: Installing grub on '/dev/vda'

I'm not sure I really trust the screenshots that show /dev/vda selected
in both cases. After all, looking one step before, the boolean regarding
installing GRUB wasn't captured at all in the failing case, compare the
screenshots starting here:

 - https://openqa.debian.net/tests/4457#step/grub/45 (ko)
 - https://openqa.debian.net/tests/4439#step/grub/45 (ok)

but maybe that's just a side effect of the console switching gymnastics
you mentioned? (Sending left Ctrl or the like every few minutes avoids
running into DPMS/blanking issues, I'm using that trick.)

Anyway, any chance you could add `DEBCONF_DEBUG=developer` on the kernel
command line, so that we have a chance of understanding what's happening
on the debconf level? Otherwise, we might try and hotpatch
grub-installer to add some more logging but if we could avoid that…

Cyril Brulebois (kibi@debian.org)            <https://debamax.com/>
D-I release manager -- Release team member -- Freelance Consultant

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