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Thoughts about handling different installation media types

Hi folks,

My blog post about the special netinst CDs including non-free firmware
[1] has triggered some discussion between Joey and I. There's a few
issues that we've found, and we think they're worth sharing. Yes, I
know that we should have found these earlier, before beta time ... :-(

I think that some of these should be filed as bugs, but for now I'm
writing this all down before I forget the details. I may go through
and file these properly later.

I was assuming (and said) that you'd be able to use these firmware
netinsts simply for bootup, then move on to use a full media set to
install the rest of the system. Unfortunately, that's not the case as
it's a netinst CD and so will contain not_complete in .disk/cd_type. I
can hack things in debian-cd to make this work, but there's all kinds
of assumptions in apt-setup about media types and I don't want to
break them.

Looking through the code in apt-setup, Joey and I have found some
places where oddly specific choices are made. At the moment, Blu-rays
will show up as CDs (type "full_cd"), which will cause d-i to prompt
asking for extra discs as though you've only got a small set of
packages available. But DVDs behave differently - see
generators/50mirror. There's also special-case code to print different
messages based on the number of discs seen so far, and that code also
does differing things depending on the media type. This is a little

It would be nice to have some discussion about what's expected/desired
from the cd_type, and let's see if we can make it more generic. Should
I have an extra flag file (".disc/non_free_firmware") that we can add
code to detect here, or is that redundant?

There's also code to remove netinst entries from the final
sources.list (finish-install.d/10apt-cdrom-setup). Normally, that
sounds like an excellent idea, except...

 a) it's a little fragile: it just checks for any ftp or http entry
    rather than one corresponding to a proper mirror. If anybody is
    using a network mirror of local packages or just security.d.o
    here, they won't get to see any sources for the main base system.
    Minor issue, I know...

 b) for the netinst-with-firmware case, I'm thinking that it would be
    lovely if we could *keep* the special netinst image in the
    sources.list, but *at the end*. That way, maybe the user will be
    able to reference the non-free firmware debs on that CD rather
    than having to be tainted by non-free stuff from other locations.
    (I admit this is very much a wishlist thing, I don't know how
    sensible/feasible this might be! :-))

[1] http://blog.einval.com/2010/12/15#CDs_with_firmware

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
< sladen> I actually stayed in a hotel and arrived to find a post-it
          note stuck to the mini-bar saying "Paul: This fridge and
          fittings are the correct way around and do not need altering"

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