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dpkg --root=... not really useful?

Trying to find a way to maintain the root file system for a diskless
client, I tried to use
	dpkg --root=/tftpboot/diskless
to install the packages I wanted initially installed. (The aim of this
is to have a root file system for NFS installations...). There are two
big problems which I encountered trying this:

1) dpkg refuses to work without the basic directory structure in
   I had to make a couple of directories and touch some files before
   dpkg was willing to install anything.

2) It is impossible to run any of the postinst etc. scripts. I got a
   cryptic error message about some missing directory - it seemed to refer
   to /var/lib/dpkg/tmp.ci (but I am not sure about it). Anyway, all
   the postinst scripts which I looked at are coded with absolute paths.
   So an installation into a tree not rooted at / is impossible. I cannot
   recall the guidelines giving any recommendation as to how to code paths
   in the control scripts of a package. Does dpkg pass the information
   about the root of the current installation to the scripts it runs?

To me, it seems that right now I have two possibilities to create the
diskless root I want as a staring point:
a) Clone my main machine (well, the subset I want) or 
b) unpack the tar of Bruce's base floppies.

   Dr. Lukas Nellen                 | Email: lukas@teorica0.ifisicacu.unam.mx
   Depto. de Fisica Teorica, IFUNAM |
   Apdo. Postal 20-364              | Tel.:  +52 5 622 5014 ext. 218
   01000 Mexico D.F., MEXICO        | Fax:   +52 5 622 5015

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