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Re: Mass install / Autoinstall (Was: Re: Debian vs Red Hat??? I need info.)

> I would agree most of the proposed solutions are quick hacks.
> The fact is, we won't be natively supporting bulk installation until
> Woody.  And even that  is in question.  As I understand it, the
> proposed Woody install system is debconf based; moreover, debconf can
> have different backends for receiving configuration info, for
> instance, an LDAP backend, or a backend that munges an XML file from a
> web server.
> Yes, vapor vapor vapor but that's the right way to do it if you ask
> me.  Hopefully debconf will be _de rigeur_ for any package requiring
> configuration info at pkg install time in Woody, so what we would have
> is really a general solution rather than just a partial or hack
> solution.
> -- 
> .....Adam Di Carlo....adam@onShore.com.....<URL:http://www.onShore.com/>

I agree with this. Any debian automatic installer must be based on
debconf. Any other solution is only a quick hack.

I have written myself an automatic installer for slink and most of the
problems I found were because slink (and potato in some way) is not
designed for auto-installation. Packages prompt manually for questions,
the bootdisk can't be automated at all, source location and packages
selection are asked with a complicated user interface and there is no
provision for installing customized configuration files, for example
/etc/hosts and /etc/passwd, or running user post-install scripts.

For all these reasons my installer was mainly a hack. I'm now working
on a new automatic installer entirely based on debconf, also in the
bootfloppy, but work is progressing very slowly because I haven't much
time to spend on it.

If you want to support automatic installation for woody I would
recommend that you consider the following issues:

    fully automatic installation once the program is started

    transparent installation from any media (cd, http, etc.)

    automatic guessing of source locations once medium is specified

    standard package selections (server, workstation, etc.) and
    support for user-supplied package profiles

    support for user-supplied config files instead of configuration

    run automatically user-supplied post-installation scripts

    interactive standalone configuration program which can be used
    to build configuration profiles stored on a floppy

    support for different config profiles based on cluster name and

    don't require graphic GUI like other distributions do

    use scripts instead of compiled programs whenever possible, for
    ease of development, debugging and maintenance

    automatic hardware detection and configuration, possibly using
    user-provided information previously stored in config files

Regarding the last point I would suggest that the major distribution's
developers join and develop a common hardware detection tool maintained
centrally, like the kernel, and used by all distributions. Having many
incomplete and duplicated detection tools is only a waste of resources.

Massimo Dal Zotto

|  Massimo Dal Zotto               email: dz@cs.unitn.it               |
|  Via Marconi, 141                phone: ++39-0461534251              |
|  38057 Pergine Valsugana (TN)      www: http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/  |
|  Italy                             pgp: finger dz@tango.cs.unitn.it  |

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