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Re: [Question] Integrating the debian installer in live-build - DVD, multi-arch, custom, etc.

Wow, that is a lot of information. Thanks for your time.

Yeah, I usually go with the 'keep a giant pool of .deb files to use as needed after installing using a DVD' rout, but it is not the most manageable thing and I was wondering if it was possible to have a single 'always on me' pen drive that work as a live system in most of the computers that come my way. And the live-build is an awesome project to automate things, so...

But I understand it would be quite a time spend for something that would be hard to achieve, maintain and with a very small user base :-/

I believe the efi only nature of refind is a deal breaker for my goal, but I will look into every thing you pointed out.

About the need for i386 support and/or multi-arch it is a matter of context. The majority off the debian installations that I make is on machines previously running windows from a diverse group off people that want to have a free (as in livre) or simply usable system out of the box. A lot of those people (but not the majority) have i386 machines (cheap netbooks, 'old' computers or newer machines made using 'rejected', out off line or cheaper parts/processors for a 'third-world' country/market) and/or don't have fast internet access.

I usually make this installations in events related to 'technology' or 'installfest' and have both (i386 and amd64) installers ready in different mediums on occasion. But more than once I have failed to install the system on a machine because I did not had a proper installer handy on the daily basis.

To have a multi-arch cdrom installer (the one still provided as a ready to use image by debian) option in the live-build would still be awesome in this regard :)

Maybe someone else knows about some other alternatives too =P

But thank you very much.

On 2020-04-15 22:17, jnqnfe@gmail.com wrote:
Just to add something to what I just said a few minutes ago - of course
you say that you're avoiding using DVDs since you want larger
selections of packages such that the images will not fit onto DVDs (and
I take your word for it that you've checked that your selections will
indeed not fit), and you want these extra packages on disk to avoid
having to add them via internet download after installing, but consider
this: you could build images that fit on DVDs to perform the
installation with, and keep a copy of the additional packages on your
pen drive, which you can then just copy onto those systems and have apt
install, thus still avoiding apt download anything. (apt saves
downloaded package *.deb files to /var/cache/apt/archives; you can copy
them from there on an existing system to you pen drive, or download
them with `apt-get download <package>`, then after installing Debian,
copy these packages to /var/cache/apt/archives/ and use apt to install;
apt will find them in its cache and thus won't download them, so long
as the version matches that which it wants to install).

On 2020-04-15 21:58, jnqnfe@gmail.com wrote:
Okay, but still, it's going to be a significant task to hack things
about sufficiently to achieve your goal, and you'll largely be on your
own in doing it, since it's not going to be worth the time of others
such as myself to assist with it I'm afraid. Even if you do achieve it,
I would not expect this to be of interest to merge into the official
live-build, and so then you've got the problem of time needed to
maintain it, rebasing it now and then upon new work going into live-
build if you want to be able to re-use your hack in future. I would
still not suggest that proceeding with this plan is a good idea.

To clarify, in answer to your previous query about whether live-build
supports integrating a hacked together multi-arch d-i, the answer is
no. Your plan will require some degree of hacking live-build itself.
It's a messy task, requiring learningto some degree how the live-build
codebase works, and is not helped by issues in the live-build codebase
such as `LB_ARCHITECTURES` confusingly being plural when it actually
just carries a single architecture.

I take your point that pen drives are more expensive that DVDs, but do
consider the value of your time in working on this. The value of the
time spent on it is probably going to easily dwarf that of the cost of
a second pen drive. Also, do you really still have any systems that are
only i386 that you actually need an i386 installer for? My mother's PC
is pretty damn old now and still that's amd64.

Something that might interest you is that you do not actually have to
"burn" the disc image directly to the storage medium to be able to use
it, there is an alternate setup possible such as that of rEFInd (or
whatever it was called) that someone else brought up in a separate
discussion here in the debian-live mailing list the other day/week,
whereby multiple such images can exist in a medium as individual
partitions, with an EFI bootloader that lets you select which one to
load. However, (1) it is EFI based, and so unless there's one that
works for BIOS it's likely not going to work for you, and (2)
unfortunately there's an issue that prevents this from working
correctly with Debian images currently anyway, for which a solution has
not yet even been decided upon.

An alternative, for the time being, which would be a pain, I know,
would be to keep the two images on disk on your computer, and write
whichever one you need to the one pen drive you have, when you need it.

Another option to consider is netinst. This is a solution that involves
a small stub that runs on the system itself and retrieves stuff from
another system over a network connection. As long as a local network
connection to this other computer is available, this might work well
for you. You thus might be able to get away with fitting netinst based
installers onto DVDs/CDs, and setting things up for both i386 and amd64
on the hard disk of this other system they fetch stuff from. I am
afraid that this vague description of things is the best I can offer
you at present though as I have no experience with it and only this
basic idea of how it works.

On Wed, 2020-04-15 at 21:10 +0000, dbgr wrote:
I believe I did not made myself clear. When I say DVD I am not
the medium itself, but the images that the 'debian team' provide to
to the medium (the ones with a much larger pool of packages than the
ones, capable of installing a whole graphical user interface/desktop
environment without the need for an internet connection).

I usually copy this images (or my custom one - larger than a DVD) to
usb thumb drive (flash drive/usb stick/pendrive) using disk dump
And I was hoping to make an image using live-build to put in one of
(they are much more expensive than DVDs here :-/) to have a live
and a multi-arch installer (with a big pool of packages) in a single

Is there any way to achieve this? I would love to use live-build to
automate the process, but if anyone could point me in the direction
doing it in any other way it would be very much appreciated :)

On 2020-04-15 20:32, jnqnfe@gmail.com wrote:
> DVDs are cheap. I'd suggest that it is in no way worth the time
> you'll
> spend hacking things about to achieve this, when you could simply
> have
> separate i386 and amd64 discs instead.
> I speak with no authority as to live-build plans, but afaik there
> are
> no plans at all to do anything in this area.
> On Wed, 2020-04-15 at 18:56 +0000, dbgr wrote:
> > Hello.
> >
> > I was not sure if this email should've been sent to both list. So
> > sorry
> > if it should've not :-/
> >
> > I am using the live-build version 20191221 (the one in testing)
> > on a
> > debian stable/buster system to build an live image with and
> > integrated
> > debian installer cdrom (with the '--debian-installer cdrom'
> > flag/option)
> > with no problems.
> >
> > My original plan with this image is to use it (also) to install
> > debian
> > in both i386 and amd64 machines, with or without a connection to
> > the
> > internet.
> >
> > So, for me, I believe the best option would be to integrate a
> > multi-
> > arch
> > and/or DVD version of the debian installer. (even better would be
> > to
> > integrate a multi-arch DVD installer - since debian dropped this
> > version
> > of the installer I've been 'hacking' one together =P)
> >
> > Is there any way that you know of to integrate any of this
> > installer
> > options (or even a 'custom' one) in live-build? Is there a plan
> > to do
> > so
> > in the future as an option?
> >
> > Thank you for your attention.
> >
> > --
> >
> > dbgr
> >

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