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Bug#1035349: regression: 'hostname' preseed alias for netcfg/get_hostname takes precedence over DHCP hostname

James Addison <jay@jp-hosting.net> (2023-05-01):
> I understand that line of thinking, but we note that we have already
> received feedback on Salsa[1] from a user whose Bookworm installation
> workflow has been affected, and confirmed that the reported problem
> exists.

And that user mentioned hostname=unassigned-hostname which would be
addressed if we were to implement what I mentioned?

> One datapoint isn't huge, but it's non-zero - and I'd expect that any
> installation using the 'hostname' preseed alias in combination with
> DHCP-as-hostname-provider would be similarly affected.
> The bug here is essentially that the 'hostname' alias used to provide
> a fallback value, and in RC 2 d-i is used as the source of the primary
> value (ignoring DHCP).  If we know that that change has taken place, I
> think that we should either document it, or attempt to restore the
> existing behaviour.

Given the following comment above the netcfg/get_* lines, I tend to

    # Any hostname and domain names assigned from dhcp take precedence over
    # values set here. However, setting the values still prevents the questions
    # from being shown, even if values come from dhcp.
    d-i netcfg/get_hostname string unassigned-hostname
    d-i netcfg/get_domain string unassigned-domain

Initially it looked like specific values were expected to lead to a
particular behaviour, but if we've been encouraging people to expect
*any* fallback values specified there, that's indeed another story.

(I had mentioned before “unassigned-hostname” wasn't to be seen in any
packages but “unassigned-domain”/“unnassigned-domain” definitely have
some specific handling.)

> The possibility about introducing other regressions with any further
> changes is a valid point.. I'm not sure how best to address that,
> other than testing the results in various configurations.
> It feels to me like 'installer begins running without its own
> hostname' was likely a reasonable baseline assumption before Linux 6.0
> began reading the same-named 'hostname' parameter, and so as a result
> it feels like unsetting the hostname early in the installer
> initialization would be safe (maybe even a good idea, to reduce a
> source of input variation between install sessions).

Well, yes. But that isn't what we've been doing for several releases,
and going back to something-that-used-to-be-safe still worries me, esp.
with 12.0 around the corner.

I have some pending yet unrelated things to investigate on the preseed
side; I'm not sure I'll want to be testing each and every possible
combination (esp. tweaking the configuration of the DHCP server behind
the virtualization layer), but I should be able to test the water.

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

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