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automatic installation again


I have almost finished my automatic installation tool. You can find it at:


Please note that this is not a supported debian package but only a collection
of hacks which work for some obscure reason on my developement machine.
I'm publishing it only to show that the automatic installation would be
possible if supported by the debian policy and by the package developers.

Don't use it unless you are a real hacker and know what you are doing!

On the web site you can find a bootdisk image, a compressed rootdisk image
and a directory of packages which have been modified for the automatic
installation. They should overwrite the corresponding official files.
My tool is based on the official slink cd's.

You will need also the file extra.tgz with modified versions of apt and dpkg,
and an optional config.tgz with local preconfigured files which go in /etc.
The latter is needed to prevent silly questions from packages which pretend
to create complex configuration files by asking one question at a time.

To try my installation tool you should do the following steps:

1)  copy the official debian cd's into an nfs mountable partition. You can't
    use the official cd because some packages must be modified.

2)  create a directory install/ in the root dir of the debian cd copy

3)  copy extra.tgz and the optional configs.tgz into the directory where is
    contained the base.tgz, or merge them into the official base.tgz. Put
    your local configuration files in the configs.tgz

4)  create the bootdisk and rootdisk floppies from the supplied images.
    You should mount the rootdisk image and inspect it before trying to
    do anything.

5)  reboot the target machine from bootdisk and rootdisk with the following
    syslinux command:

    linux KEYBOARD=type MOUSE=device:type:-R

6)  at the root prompt try the following commands:

    install -?		# to show the command and configuration file options

    install --source server_ip:/distribution_path --target /dev/hda --erase \
	    --profile "client" --hostname host.domain --verbose 3

    Note that this command will completely erase your target harddisk.
    If you don't like this run fdisk by hand and specify the --root-partition
    and --swap-partition options in the command line. Note also that lilo
    doesn't handle harddisks with more than 1024 cylinders.

    You can put your config options (see /usr/bin/install in the rootdisk)
    in the file /install/defaults of a minix or umsdos floppy which must be
    inserted in the drive before the installation is started. In the same
    floppy you can also put your customized profiles and tasks.

7)  answer any other questions and see what happens. If it doesn't work look
    at the documentation file in the rootdisk: /usr/bin/install. In the file
    /tmp/install.log you can find a log of the installation.

    If the installation completes you will find the answers to question of
    scripts which use my dpkg-getconfig in /etc/config/config.updates, and
    some important messages in the root mailbox.
    You can use these answers to install automatically a second identical
    machine using the --auto option. Just copy the file in the configs.tgz.

Good luck!

Massimo Dal Zotto

|  Massimo Dal Zotto               email: dz@cs.unitn.it               |
|  Via Marconi, 141                phone: ++39-0461534251              |
|  38057 Pergine Valsugana (TN)      www: http://www.cs.unitn.it/~dz/  |
|  Italy                             pgp: finger dz@tango.cs.unitn.it  |

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