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Mass installation procedure for Debian?


I have to deal in the near future with a lot of Debian machines, that I will
setup and configure for two customers. I like to develop or use some mechanism
for mass installation of these machines, and for easily setting up a spare
part machine if one crashes.

Basically, I like to do something like kickstart does for RedHat or Mandrake.
You created some kind of config file for the installer and afterwards it just
works. (More or less)

Does something like this exist already in Debian, or is it planned and I can
contribute to it? This is a desperate need, cause I have to enable not so
skilled admins to get the machine up and replaced without actually needing to
travel to the location of the machines.

I hacked up a crude solution for this yet. I took the dpkg -l output of an
existing machine, put it in a "this depends on that table" and selected all
packages which nothing depends on. So, I have the list which installs the
system, with some apt-get magic. But this is still a two way solution, cause
you need to get a basic machine up and running, ftp the perl scripts and the
data, and then finish the installation. Finally, you have to fetch the
configuration files from the ftp too, and put them in place. Not very fine and
not very easy.

I don't need a backup, cause the machines that can be replaced this way don't
have any user data on it. Web servers, proxies, and so on. The "data storages"
are backed up, setup redundantly and if these machines crash, I am in trouble
which needs my attention.

So, any ideas would be highly appreciated.

best regards,

Oliver Andrich                   | Tel.:  0261-5009075
IT Projektmanagement,            | Mobil: 0172-6538591
Systemprogrammierung und -design | Fax:   069-13305990076
                                 | Email: oliver@andrich.net
Fingerpring: 2AB5 B998 8BD2 AC3A E12A  3A8A 171E 5B1B EC4B 3C2B

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