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Re: Large scale installations of debian

On Thu, Jul 29, 1999 at 02:02:08PM +0200, Erik Bågfors wrote:
> > Hi,
> > 
> > I'm working on a system for doing semi-automatic Debian installations (code 
> > name: deblab). It's more of a hack than an elegant solution but it works
> > for us (tm) in our department (Debian on Sparc, Alpha and i386, different
> > package lists for terminal and server).
> Will this become fully automatic??

I intend to get it to a point where I can do completely automatic 
installations with this tool.

> > Let me lay out the basic ideas:
> > 
> > * Install the base system via the usual installation mediums; that's the 
> >   reason why I call it semi-automatic; I'll take a look at the shell script
> >   Massimo Dal Zotto posted about some weeks ago to automate the first step too
> Good.
> Can we make this work with dhcp too??

I've got no experience with dhcp (we don't use it) but it should be doable.

> > * after the reboot you skip the profiles and the dselect step and log in as
> >   root
> > * get the autoinstallation tarball via ftp or nfs
> Why a tar-ball?? Why not a deb-package?  

Because it contains your local configuration files. Another solution would
be to separate it in a binary Debian package and a config file tarball.

> > * the following installation is done in three phases which are executed by a 
> >   simple bash script:
> > 
> > 1. configure apt and install some necessary packages (I use cfengine and 
> >    expect as installation engines)
> How are they defined?

apt-get -y install cfengine expect5.24
> > 2. invoke cfengine to do some preinstallation e.g. install /etc/exim.conf 
> >    (exim skips the postinst if it finds a valid exim.conf), /etc/gpm.conf
> >    and similar cases
> > 3. set the packages to install via dpkg --set-selections
> > 4. start the installation via an expect-script which runs apt-get and answers
> >    the questions according to its data 
> How do you create the "data"???

You edit a simple text file where the answers for the packages are recorded.

> > I'll test the setup today and tomorrow in our department and could put
> > together a Debian package over the weekend if somebody is interested.
> > Note however that you should regard the package as an alpha thingie.
> > But perhaps we can get it in a more general usable state 'til the release
> > of potato.
> This sounds like a good start.  I do belive however that there should be
> some changes in the format of the debian-package to make it work 
> non-interactive.  I do belive that all scripts that are in install or 
> uninstall should be able to run uninteractive if asked to!

The general solution is addressed by Wichert's configuration proposal 
which gets implemented by Joey Hess. The general solution involves,
however, to change all packages with interactive scripts. Therefore it'll
take at least several months 'til the general solutions works for Debian.

One design goal of my hack was to avoid _any_ modification of other packages
and still realize a automatic installation. It should work with slink, too.



Christian Meder, email: meder@isr.uni-stuttgart.de
What's the railroad to me ?
I never go to see
Where it ends.
It fills a few hollows,
And makes banks for the swallows, 
It sets the sand a-blowing,
And the blackberries a-growing.
                      (Henry David Thoreau)

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