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mbr -- drawing the issue to a close


I seriously can't believe how this issue has been overblown to such
proportions. If you guys are going to spend all your time arguing, why not
take some of that precious time and contribute constructively to the boot
floppies project? We are in dire need of testers, porters, i18n translators
and people to WRITE GOOD DOCUMENTATION! Stop complaining and get to work! If
people email me good prompts for the boot floppies that will clarify this
issue, I'll make sure they get added in to dbootstrap.

A brief word about the technical details -- this is from my understanding
after looking at the code. I'm not one of the people who originally designed
it, so I may not be representing the design decisions correctly.

Debian boot floppies (BF) never installs lilo into the mbr. It installs in
into the boot record of the partition that contains your root partition.
Given this, a mbr program is needed to bootstrap the boot up process to get
the Linux installation.

Both of these steps (installing lilo and the mbr program) are optional.
There are prompts that asks for confirmation before each step is taken. In
recent versions of BF (>=2.2.6) there are even some additional prompts that
explain what happens if you *don't* install the mbr program, but only install

Having these two pieces separate is important for machines that need to 
boot into multiple operating systems. By separating mbr out from lilo, you
can have your choice of boot loaders while continuing to have the option of
using lilo's many options.

BF 2.2.6 now installs mbr with the --enable -F option. This disables the
floppy option from the first mbr prompt. As others have pointed out, you can
still get the floppy boot option by going into the advanced menu; however,
disabling the A menu is not an option because there are several scenarios
where that is needed to boot Debian *AT ALL*. 

Obviously, there can be more elaborate schemes to make this process more
flexible so that many of the issues raised in the long mbr thread are
addressed. As someone who is actually working on the code, I can tell you
that this is difficult given time constraints and other (IMO) more critical
missing components from potato BF. Documentation is good, and probably the
best solution in this case. Again, if you send me documentation, or, better
yet, send us patches to dbootstrap or fix it in cvs, we can make sure the
concerns are satisfied.

Lastly, all the mbr and lilo settings can be overridden after the system has
rebooted and you are at a boot prompt. Perhaps Joey Hess can updated
base-config to have some lilo configuration dialogs. I believe that's a
better location for that setup than dbootstrap anyway.

If you have constructive comments, patches, documentation stuff, please mail
me privately at tausq@debian.org, or followup to debian-boot@lists.debian.org. 
I think we should end this thread RIGHT HERE. Flames will be silently ignored.

Debian Developer <tausq@debian.org>

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