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RFC: a "Debian System Method" for dpkg

	Request for comments: a "Debian System Method" for dpkg

 Because of its owner having forgotten the debian-CD in a train, I
recently had to install a debian system on a PC. We still had the
installation floppies we had used for another machine on the same
ethernet, and had access to that machine, which had a dpkg-repack.
 So I repacked the needed packages, moved repacked netstd to the new
system with a floppy :-( and the others with FTP, and installed them
by hand.
 No need to say I forgot some dependencies, and had to repeat these
steps several times with missing packages... That left me some time to
think about that:

* an automated version of what I was doing would have been interested,
but here, the situation was an exceptional one...

* anyway, for a network of debian machines, we could arrange to have
only one machine installing/upgrading by FTP, and the others
installing/upgrading from that one without it having to waste disk
space with all already installed deb files.

* a full repackaging might not be necessary, as it is time-consuming
on "slow" machines (I'm speaking here about a P75 !) for large
packages (multi-megabytes ones), but it should at least partially be

* packages descriptions (those from Packages files) should be made
available from one machine to another (I don't think they are kept
as-is after install, so they would have to be rebuild, at least

* I see 2 different solutions: 

- NFS-mount the source machine, and execute all on the target
machine. That's only realistic if NFS maps root on target to root on
source, and that might not be always the case.

- dialog between the 2 machines: this makes the source machine execute
programs (build description, repack), so maybe a daemon process would
be interesting, for security reasons.

* conffiles would have to be handled correctly: maybe default
conffiles should be always kept (*.dpkg-dist), and repack should be
able to recognize them (with md5 ?).

etc., probably...

Yann Dirson

e-mail: dirson@univ-mlv.fr

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