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Bits from the CD team

It's been a while; here's some news, some plans and a plea for help.

Work towards etch

We released etch d-i beta 3[1] a couple of weeks back. So far, things
seem to be going generally OK in testing. Daily builds of business
card and netinst images and weekly builds of full CD and DVD sets have
since restarted, and we plan to continue with those.

Sarge r3

There were some delays and problems in releasing the third
point-release of sarge on CD and DVD, including the now-traditional
spectres of hardware failure and repetitive debian-cd runs to optimise
the layouts for the CDs and DVDs. In the end, the final images were
released yesterday with one (minor) known issue[2]. Sarge r4 should be
coming Real Soon Now and should be fixed in that respect.

Planned changes to the build system

For historical reasons, the current build system is split into two
parts, in different countries. Jigdo files are built on the first
system, then transferred over and converted into ISO images on the
distribution system. This works OK, but is a much slower process than
we'd like. Plans are in motion to fix this performance issue by
hosting a new build system physically adjacent to the distribution
system; this should give a major reduction in the time we currently
need to do a full CD/DVD run. It will also make it feasible for us to
do some regular builds of CDs for some of the CDDs; Debian-Edu have
already asked about this.

Debian-CD development

Despite my grand ideas for debian-cd development proposed back at DC5
in Helsinki[3], things have gone much more slowly than I
hoped. debian-cd has been keeping up with the updates needed to do
etch builds, but unfortunately many of the large structural changes I
hoped for have not happened yet.

The only big change I *still* hope to be possible for an etch release
this year will be creation of multi-arch CDs and DVDs; my aim is to
make an official 3-arch netinst CD (i386/amd64/ppc) that should boot
and install from the network on all 3, and a single DVD image for
those same 3 arches that should contain the equivalent of the first 3
or 4 CDs, along with the sources to match. This latter should be an
ideal disc to give away at expos and conferences, similar to the aim
of the LinuxTag discs that have been produced over the last few
years. I've started work on this already, and *hope* to be able to
finish it soon.


During this summer, I've also been mentoring a student in the Google
Summer of Code. Carlos Parra Camargo has been working on
debian-images-generator[4], a re-implementation of debian-cd written
in python. His work is looking very promising so far, and once we have
released etch I'm hoping to gradually shift over to using this new


We're looking for help on several fronts:

  1. debian-cd has lots of small bugs that often don't get fixed
     because they're not a high priority.

  2. TESTING! The daily and weekly builds already get some testing via
     the d-i team, but more is always welcome. Another place where
     more testing will help is in the stable point releases; it's very
     difficult to know with any certainty that a new build looks sane
     without access to lots of machines, spanning multiple

  3. Lastly, another project I've been hoping to get going for a while
     is CD-lintian, an automated test tool to help ensure that
     generated images meet minimum quality standards. We already have
     lintian and linda available to help Debian maintainers check
     their packages for many of the possible common bugs; it'd be nice
     to have something similar at the CD level.

On all of these points, volunteers are always welcome. Please sign up
to the debian-cd mailing list or find us on #debian-cd on

[1] http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/
[2] http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/3.1_r3/HEADER.html
[3] http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2005/07/msg00005.html
[4] svn://svn.debian.org/svn/deb-imgs-gen/trunk

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
Is there anybody out there?

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