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Summary from the d-i / debian-cd BoF at DC14

[ Please note the cross-post and Reply-To ]

Hi folks,

As promised, here's a quick summary of what was discussed at the BoF
session in Portland. Apologies for the delay - it takes a while to
write these up... :-/

Thanks to the awesome efforts of our video team, the session is
already online [1].  I've taken a copy of the (partial!) Gobby notes
too, alongside my small set of slides for the session. [2]

Current D-I Status

Jessie D-I Beta 1 released recently. Some known issues and regressions
documented already, but please help test the images we already have -
particularly on the less common architectures, languages, installer
options. We're worried particularly about some of the architectures
where bugs are showing up that suggest people are not using/testing
the installer very often - kfreebsd ports are a worry here, for

Release scheduling has been an issue for a very long time. We've
spoken about maybe switching to a regular cycle for d-i releases
(monthly/2-monthly?) since forever, but we're still not there
yet. Would be lovely to release and migrate using the normal testing
setup, but we've never got there yet. Short on manpower - testing,
fixing bugs, etc.

D-I Plans

* Switching to the graphical installer by default for Jessie, where it
  makes sense (i.e. on x86 systems). As discussed 2/3/4 years
  ago. It's not just to make things prettier, the graphical installer
  is the only option for certain languages / writing systems that
  cannot be supported in the text installer.

* Default desktop discussion has come up again. Joey has plans to work
  out the best default desktop choice, similarly to how the release
  architectures are chosen. New wiki page [3] added to help track
  this, and another BoF organised later in the week at DebConf [4,5] to
  go into this in more detail. 

* Desktop choice - Frans Pop added syslinux years back to allow choice
  of desktop at install time because tasksel didn't. Time to revisit
  that. Discussion about adding more/different options to tasksel. The
  Blends folks (and others) would like some of their tasks to be
  included too. Maybe add an extra *limited* set of options to
  tasksel, more discussion later. Translations could be an issue if we
  want to get big changes like this in for Jessie release - don't
  leave it too long!

* Do we *need* a default desktop? YES - many typical users won't know
  what the different desktop options are, and often won't care. They
  just want to download Debian and install it, and we need to make a
  sensible default choice for those people.

* Jessie artwork - paultag is organising this, so far. Still quite a
  bit of work to do once we have chosen the right artwork, which will
  take time.

* Lots of bug fixes to come in d-i yet, e.g. firmware support

* New architectures will want supporting in the installer: arm64 and
  ppc64el. d-i should be working very soon on those architectures if
  not already.

* UEFI Secure Boot has been missing manpower so far, which is why it's
  not happened so far. Another session later in the week with more
  details [6]. Needs some work from DSA, ftp team, grub, kernel, d-i,
  debian-cd teams. Might make it for Jessie?

* Graphical installer is still using gtk2; porting to gtk3 is unlikely
  for Jessie at this point without help doing that.



* We can't test all the architectures/code paths ourselves - please
  help *now* before it's too late for the Jessie release.

* OpenSUSE have a magic installer test framework that may help us here
  - if somebody could take a look that would be awesome - it might be
  very helpful.

* Bug-handling is another area - as we get more installation reports
  for Jessie. we'll need help to evaluate those and file more detailed
  bug reports about particular failures. KiBi can't do all this on his

* More stuff - translations (Christian and team!), bug fixes, etc.

* New stuff. d-i is great and mostly stable and works for most people,
  but there will always be more cool things we can/could do if only we
  had the time to do them.

Debian-CD Status

We're still building massive sets of images every day and every
week. Things are mostly working, clearly!

For the last couple of Wheezy point releases, we've been building the
debian-live images on our standard central CD build machine
(pettersson) alongside the regular installer images, built and signed
by Steve. Daniel's work on debian-live is awesome, but there have been
issues in the past co-ordinating times to do releases together.

Debian-CD Plans

* Which images do we want to make for Jessie? Currently we have, for
  every architecture:
  + netinst
  + CD set
  + alternate versions of CD#1 for each of the desktops (gnome/kde/xfce/lxde)
  + DVD
  + BD (x86 only)

  We're ready and able to add more CD options for other desktops too,
  as soon as they have appropriate tasks ready for tasksel. Recently
  fixed a silly bug in CD creation where the "Gnome" CD installed XFCE!

  Discussion about trying to make desktops fit on 1 CD. XFCE and LXDE
  both fit on 1 CD, Gnome and KDE basically don't fit any more. We
  need to work out what to do there.

  Should we still build Gnome or KDE CDs at all? Not clear. Let's have
  the discussion.

  We used to have the m-a DVD#1 for amd64/i386/powerpc for all
  desktops, but that grew too big and we had to drop powerpc.

  We deliberately sized DVD#1 to fit on a 4G USB stick, and that's
  worked well. We can build a whole range of differently-sized images:
  1G, 2G, 4G, 8G, etc. but that's just a waste of mirror space. What
  exact image choices would the various teams like to see?

  Suggestion for popcon: can we get information about how
  installations were actually done? Gnome CD#1, DVD, netinst
  etc. Maybe - we had some discussion here and in the later tasksel
  session about that. Please contribute code if it will help.

* Debian-CD v4 in progress - adds http download support so you don't
  need a full local mirror to build Debian CDs. It's taking a while,
  as it's not an easy problem. There are lots of places in debian-cd
  where the code assumes that we have a local filesystem, switching to
  remote things is much harder

* Regular live builds of testing - now we have stable release builds
  happening on pettersson, we should also be able to do regular
  weeklies too for Jessie. Still needs a little work, it's coming.

* Live builds are being done in a VM on pettersson for security
  reasons. Now we have some infrastructure set up for that, there are
  more options for other types of images that people have been asking
  + cloud images
  + pre-installed system images ready for embedded systems - just dd
    straight onto an SD card (or similar). Neil Williams has been
    hacking on vmdebootstrap to help here.
  These will take more time

* Kernel patch to (re-)create, fixing issues with the protected
  hardlink feature that the kernel gained recently. Spoke to Kees
  about this, and he's happy to review it when I have it ready.

Discussion and questions

* Which ARM platforms are going to be supported? Now we have the armmp
  kernel and device tree support setup, we can/could support most of
  the current commonly-available ARM machines directly in the
  installer. We could even get to the point where CDs, USB sticks
  etc. will be bootable for ARM machines. arm64 is expected to be
  UEFI for virtually all the machines we're going to see, so that
  should be a (mostly?) solved problem. \o/

* Suggestion that we could maybe come up with specially-designed
  images and/or tools to just concatenate images together to make
  appropriately-sized images. Potentially hard problems here, but
  discussion in #759406. Related idea is in #618753 (munge images
  together to make a 16G USB stick images).

* How could we make a multi-arch CD which is mostly amd64 but has a
  small set of packages for other arches? Could be done, but will need
  somebody to work on it.

* Generating complete images (as opposed to installer images) brings
  up other issues - d-i already asks a set of useful questions
  (keymap, timezone, etc.) at installation time. For other types of
  images, we'd need to add a first-boot customisation/configuration
  tool to ask those questions. Preseeding could do it, but how do we
  do this? Defer some of the installer steps until first boot, like

* cloud-init based images on official servers - coming!
  cdimage.debian.org is not the best name any more, as we agreed
  several years ago! :-) We'd like to have all the possible image
  types available for easy download like this, it's just taking
  time. They're all cool ideas - please help!

* Question about the status of signed images.
  + All of the official images created and distributed via cdimage.d.o
    are signed:
  + Auto-generated testing images (daily/weekly) are signed using a
    temporary signing key to protect against MITM attacks.
  + Proper releases, d-i betas etc. that have undergone some real
    manual testing are signed using the official debian-cd key
  + Both of these keys are in the WoT, cross-signed by Steve and a few
    other folks.
  + No key roll-over on the official CD keys yet, we just haven't got
    round to implementing that yet.
  + https downloads for images - hard problem when dealing with
    mirrors, we don't want to force everybody to come to the central
    site for downloads. Also a major problems with caches and proxies.
  + core d-i bits check signatures
  + CD/DVD images explicitly do not contain signed Release files, as
    this does not really give any extra security and is only likely to
    cause worse problems - there's no trust path for most users. This
    is a hard problem with no obvious solution.

* Status of d-i on the new arches? Ian Campbell has been building and
  testing d-i for arm64 from debian-ports for a while. In the main
  archive, there are/were not enough bits there yet for things to
  work. If not already there today, things should work just fine very
  soon. ppc64el guys have been working on stuff already, and have
  their own test image that works fine for them. Both new arches are
  hoping to release with Jessie, so expect NMUs shortly for anything
  that blocks that!


PLEASE HELP! There's lots of stuff to do yet for both d-i and
debian-cd, but not enough people to do it all...!

[1] http://meetings-archive.debian.net/pub/debian-meetings/2014/debconf14/webm/Debian_installer_and_CD_BoF.webm
[2] http://www.einval.com/~steve/talks/Debconf14-installer-cd/
[3] https://wiki.debian.org/DebianDesktop/Requalification/Jessie
[4] https://summit.debconf.org/debconf14/meeting/138/tasksel-default-desktop-requalification/
[5] http://meetings-archive.debian.net/pub/debian-meetings/2014/debconf14/webm/tasksel_default_desktop_requalification.webm
[6] https://summit.debconf.org/debconf14/meeting/150/uefi-secure-boot/

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
You raise the blade, you make the change... You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane...

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