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Re: d-i user questions, web proxies, automated installation

Geert Stappers <stappers@stappers.nl> writes:

> On Sun, Mar 27, 2022 at 03:43:47PM +0200, Marc Haber wrote:
>> Hi,
>> ... intro ...
> Welcome
>> 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
>> installations.
>> 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).
> A few days (a week?) ago wrote Phill something like
>    There is https://hands.com/d-i/
>    and would like revisited together with you
>    for recent release
> (Yeah, I staid in my email program, didn't visit the archive of
> the mailinglist for the exact text)

I did a bit of testing of that at the time and got it working with
bookworm, so pushed the new layout up to https://hands.com/d-i/ (which
I've not yet tested from there, so it might still have some rough edges)

At the very least, the documentation needs to be edited to talk about
bookworm rather than jessie.

>> 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)?
>     url=the.remote.system
> as boot parameter.
>> 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?
> Begin.
> Start with what is already available.
> That way you can find "your missing piece".
> When "found" start wondering about how to optimize development
> of the new piece.

The whole process is the result of udebs being pulled in by their
dependencies, so you can replace parts or all of the process by
satisfying the relevant dependencies with your own udebs.  Of course,
it's not possible to replace the bits that have already run by the time
preseeding happens, unless you rebuild the media with your bits.

You can also do pretty-much anything directly via preseeding if you
don't mind being a little evil -- here's an example of some in-flight
brain surgery: replacing bits of a udeb as it is unpacked to change its
behaviour (which is OK for testing, but I'd generally recommend doing it
properly in a udeb):


BTW When it comes to testing new udebs, I have some stuff on salsa that
should allow you to concentrate on building your udeb, and then have
salsa generate a mini-ISO to test it.

It uses this:


which kicks this off:


Which is a bit arcane, so feel free to ask about it if you want to give
it a try, and I'll try to remember how it works ;-)


Cheers, Phil.
|)|  Philip Hands  [+44 (0)20 8530 9560]  HANDS.COM Ltd.
|-|  http://www.hands.com/    http://ftp.uk.debian.org/
|(|  Hugo-Klemm-Strasse 34,   21075 Hamburg,    GERMANY

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