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Re: Debian images for Google Compute Engine

> > > Another question, for the mid-long term, do you think that it would be
> > > possible to use the Debian Installer directly ?

> > We're already using debootstrap, as ec2debian-build-ami did. I'm curious
> > how you'd want debian-installer to work, but if it supports arbitrary image
> > files as target, someone might be able to do it.

> As far as I understand the debian installer actually uses debootstrap
> (seeing that debootstrap has a --debian-installer switch and all...),
> debian-build-cloud is simply a different wrapper, though I believe the real
> installer does a lot of other stuff as well.

Hi all,

first, let me thank Anders again for his work on debian-build-cloud
(ex-ec2debian-build-ami), that gave us the momentum which is essential
to get started. 

One almost tautological advantage of using Debian-Installer is that the
resulting system will be the same as any other Debian system installed
following the instructions on the Debian website.

Debian-Installer (http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/) is the default
way to install Debian on a machine.  It is very flexible, and its "preseed"
(http://wiki.debian.org/DebianInstaller/Preseed) system allows us to make
unattended custom installations reproducibly with a simple text configuration
file.  Debian Installer comes with a large and extensible collection of
components to select mirrors and locales, boot systems and kernels, install
platform-specific packages, configure the network, etc.  It also has multiple
hooks to run custom scripts, and has a quite good developer guide

The base system is installed via debootstrap.  Therefore, in a way,
debian-build-cloud re-implements Debian-Installer for the tasks external to
debootstrap.  This means that we cut ourselves from advances made on installing
Debian in general, and also some potential contributions will be harder to

One of the largest difference is that Debian-Installer is booted as an
operating system, and debian-build-cloud is executed as a program from a
running system.  In the case of preparing cloud images, the impact of this
difference is reduced.  On the Amazon cloud for instance, I prepared machine
images of the Debian installer.  When booted and provided a preseed file, they
install a Debian system on a target volume.  What blocks me from producing a
usable image is that Debian-Installer does not seem to support making
partition-less systems (and maybe it is not even a problem if it is possible to
boot partitionned volumes on the Amazon cloud).  Once this is solved, I think
that we should seriously consider using Debian-Installer.

In summary, using Debian-Installer, we will ensure that Debian Cloud images are
the closest to any other Debian system, and will avoid parallel implementations
of similar functionalities to turn a debootstrapped chroot into a real
operating system.

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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