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Re: Debian mass installation

> I'd like to install Debian on a number of laptops over the network
> automatically.  As all laptops have the same hardware I'd like to
> install one manually, generate a file that describes the configuration
> and install Debian with the identical configuration on the other
> laptops without following the interactive setup.
> I know that RedHat has something called kickstart that does the job.
> Is there a similar program for Debian?
> Cheers,
> Christian

Well, it depends on the circumstances that you have available to provide 
the install... there are at least two, and maybe more, if you have an NFS
server available.

Check out FAI (fully automated installer) - as one might guess, a university 
project.  Anyways that can be found at:

easysw.com has a package creator which they claim is free, but their website
is marketdroid-y, so they make me uneasy.  Lack of docs before you download
via a CGI/mirror finder also makes me uneasy.  YMMV.

Replicator has really cool notes, might be easier to sink your teeth into:
but, it's got slink working, still beta for potato.

On the roll-your-own scale:
1) install master system with just base.  tweak to suit *before* installing 
   anything else:  
   a) set debconf to "oh shut up" err, I mean the setting which just mails the 
      root user if something is really important.
   b) set /etc/apt/sources.list to your preferred site, e.g. that internal
      server. Note: an ssh method for apt is available,
   c) /etc/lilo.conf, /etc/fstab, /etc/pcmcia/network.opts at least.
   d) If you enjoy customizing: /etc/issue, local kernel if you like (with
      apm always on!  Grr!) probably others.

2) tarball that, it's your new base.
3) add all the packages you want.  Do not configure them yet.
4) dpkg --get-selections > master-selections (copy this to some safe place)

5) configure things and save the resulting changes.
   Multiple schools of thought here.  You can:
   a) config all your stuff and then use dpkg-repack to repack every single
      deb that you tweaked, and recompose your internal server to serve
      these instead of the outside batch.  (or make .iso images from same.)
   b) come up with a good way to diff "everything unconfigured" from 
      "everything configured" so that you have a tarball of only your new
      config files. (makes it really easy to doctor just those, much later...)
   c) the heck with this tweakable-later stuff, let's just have a huge 
      configured tarball instead.  use this instead of (2) during (7), skip
      (8) through (10).

6) come up with your own way to forcefeed machines your partitioning plans.
   gparted is scriptable.  You might use Linuxcare's bootable business card
   as a base, its init is a shell script, so it's real easy to warp the
   sequence of events.  (http://www.linuxcare.com/bootable_cd/)  This is the
   part that all linux installers annoy newbies with.

7) drop-in "base" (2) by some more automagical means than normal (I've given a
   fairly verbose treatment of install by hand elsewhere on this list, so
   it's in the archives now) which includes using your results from (6).

8) dpkg --set-selections < master-selections (I think. please check syntax.)
9) apt-get dist-upgrade
10) "restore" your replacement config files, if they're seperate.

debug until done, serves hundreds.

Good luck 

-* Heather Stern * star@ many places... 

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