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Re: [custom] Some issues for custom debian distributions

It's really good news that someone is writing on this. Since Debian is
somewhat hard to install and configure for unexperienced user, but
otherwise Debian is The Best :), I guess many people are doing custom
Debain installation tools.

>  - Preconfigure the packages we install
>      Using two different approaches: (1) Load answers into the debconf
>      database before the packages are installed using some home-make
>      scripts, and (2) rewrite/replace configuration files using
>      cfengine at the end of the installation if the package is unable
>      to configure what we want using debconf.  I'm fairly satisfied
>      with this solution, but am not sure if the method used to feed
>      the debconf database is the best available.  I believe the best
>      option would be to extend all the packages we use to make it
>      possible to configure everything we need using debconf answers.

I'm not sure that everything can be done this way.

E.g. in a "distribution" (better to say - custom installation CD) I maintain
here I expect users to use kppp to connect to their ISPs. To make this work
by default, I have to comment out whole contents of /etc/ppp/options during
the last stage of the installation. I don't think that pppd maintainer will
agree that such thing should be provided by debconf.

Another thing is replacing "#!/bin/sh" by "#!/bin/bash --login" in
/etc/kde3/kdm/Xsession (and other dm's Xsession files). This is the only
way I know to make login shell startup files evaluated during X logins.
This issue is known for ages, but it seems that people who make decisions
don't thing it is necessary. So this isn't likely to be fixed with debconf

>  - Automatic X configuration
>      Using home-brewed script filling the debconf database, and then
>      call dexconf from the xfree86 package to generate the
>      configuration file.  The HW detection info is fetched from
>      various packages (discover, kudzu, detect, etc).

Could you give an URL to such script?
I need one badly. Unfortunatly, discover/mdetect/read-edid based dexconf is
far from perfect, especcialy in detecting capabilities of the monitor. And
hadrware detection is not what I am an expert in :(.

>  - CD building
>      Using a heavily patched version of debian-cd to create the CDs.
>      Most of the patches is to include the d-i boot floppies.  This
>      should now be possible with the standard version of debian-cd,
>      but no one in Skolelinux have taken the time to update our copy
>      of the scripts.

The thing I really don't like in debian-cd is the requirement to have a
local mirror. I prefer to use apt-get (+apt-proxy) to fetch packages while
building CD. I have a (currently ugly) script to do so; if anyone is
interested I can (try to) clean it up and make it available. 

>  - Configure default language for all users
>      Using a custom script to rewrite config files to modify the
>      default language/locale.

Seems that feeding correct value to debconf for "locales" package fixes
this. At least for me.

Currently I install "locales" and "console-cyrrillic" (with all
dependencies) very early - I modified debootstrap to do so. Default values
to debconf database also are written by modified debootstrap. So I have
russian properly set up already when base-config runs.

> There are probably others, but this should be a good starting point.
> Are these issues common to other custom distros?

Main problems I current have are related to hardware detection and

Users want to configure their X display easily (resolution, frequency, etc).
E.g. from KDE control center. They complain that other distros let them to
do so. I am not familar with distros other than Debian so I don't know what
to do.

Also users want all their hardware to be detected and configured
automatically. Well, discover does something, but again, users complain
that XXX is not detected/configured/working properly, while everything is
ok with other distros.
Maybe there are better tools? Please share your experiense.

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