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d-i user questions, web proxies, automated installation


first let me thank you for helping me with my adduser hat on last week
by giving helpful and quick answers to my question regarding debconf. I
really appreciate that.

Now I am coming to you as a User of Debian-Installer and am fully
prepared to be sent to some other place with my questions.

In a small side project I am currently helping a company to design and
implement a deployment process for embedded Debian to a headless
multimedia controller based on amd64 (sic!). Those machines do have HDMI
and USB, but hidden away inside the box so you need to open the case to
access those ports. I would like to avoid that at least for the bulk of

Unfortunately, I find the Installation Guide a bit terse on the topic of
preseeded, headless installation, but am prepared to help improving the
document. I would probably need some guidance in finding the "right" way
to do things before writing them down (or, if weirdness turns out to be
a bug, filing the appropriate bugs) and am wondering whether this list
might be the correct medium to answer installation questions regarding
preseeding. I am afraid that technical questions regarding preseeding
will get drowned on debian-user, and probably not find in-depth answers
on debian-user-german.

After a preseeded installation, a common task is to hand over the
freshly installed system to some kind of configuration management like
puppet. I have seen more or less ugly methods do to that, including a
multi-hundred character long shell string as d-i preseed/late_command
with advanced multi level quoting hell, having an localinit.deb which is
installed along with the base system and which does that initialization
and enrollment after first reboot into the fresly installed system,
staying around for the entire life of the box, etc. Is there any
documentation / opinion about doing this more elegantly?

And then: Can I have a single pre-seed file that would allow me to
configure the Installer and Apt to choose the first web proxy from a
list of proxies defined in some pre-seed data field, choosing the first
one that happens to be available and responding, falling back to direct
connection if none of the proxies is there? That would allow me to use
the same Installer image for installations in a variety of places with
various differnt proxy setups, avoiding the work to have an Installer
image per site (giving the users the possibility to fail by just
choosing the wrong USB stick).

Imagine that I have a remote system in a network that I don't manage,
for example a hosting network. I have a box running some kind of
unnamed linux, a locally provided rescue system, or grml. I am currently
installing in such environments by debootstrapping manually, chrooting
into that system and using my existing configuration management to
"personalize" the installation. Is there a possibility to start d-i
proper in such a system to get all of d-i's magic, probably skipping
partitioning and filesystem creation (that might already been done)?

And last question: How seriously pluggable is the Installer? Can I, for
example, build my own udeb for apt configuration or my own, much less
flexible partitioner and just throw those udebs into an installer tree
and directly use it? Or do I need to delve in-depth into the build
process of the entire Installer to do that?

Thanks for helping. No need to Cc me any more, I am subscribed now.


Marc Haber         | "I don't trust Computers. They | Mailadresse im Header
Leimen, Germany    |  lose things."    Winona Ryder | Fon: *49 6224 1600402
Nordisch by Nature |  How to make an American Quilt | Fax: *49 6224 1600421

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