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Re: [Debian-User] Xen and a local mirror or a R/W DVD [LONG REPLY]

On Sun, Feb 18, 2007 at 03:14:39PM -0700, Archive wrote:
> I really like the idea passed on to me of getting the entire 14 disk 
> ETCH (older and therefore stable) distribution on a R/W DVD where the 
> first DVD contains the installer.  

I think you're slightly confused here. The current stable version of 
Debian is 3.1 - the codename is Sarge. Although the last distribution 
update was Feb ??10?? or so, Sarge has been released for about two 
years. Debian stable releases are designed to be unconditionally stable 
- the only fixes are security fixes, essentially. This means that parts 
of Sarge are anything up to two and a half years old. That's the name of the 
game - unconditional stability and no changes mid flow without a very, 
very good reason. Sarge is 14 CD's / a couple of DVD's.

For various reasons, Sarge didn't release with full official AMD64 
support, so the AMD64 (and hence Intel) 64 bit supported 3.1 port was 
released as "unofficial" a couple of weeks later. 3.1 support for AMD64 
is therefore "unofficial". 

Fast forward a couple of years :) Debian is preparing to release "Etch" 
which will be Debian 4.0 on release. It's had two years of hammering on it: 
it's more or less ready to go barring some problems as I type. Most 
importantly, it supports relatively up to date hardware and AMD64/late 
model Intel 64 bit chips. 

Etch is currently the "testing" candidate - when it releases, it will 
become "stable" and Sarge will become "oldstable" (and remain supported for 
about a year more or so.) Etch will therefore be relatively up to date 
at release point - once released as stable, it will age over the 
following years and be "out of date" - the main criticism of Debian 
from people who don't appreciate what Debian means by stability criteria :)

It might be a good idea for you to install Etch at this point. It's 
currently 20 CDs or so for the binaries and/or 3 relatively full 
DVDs [same again for source, of course]. 18,000 or so packages (slightly 
more for i386 32 bit than for amd64 64 bit, other architectures may 

[Small caveat: Etch is, however, subject to change as the release 
approaches, so there's still an amount of data churn and some packages 
may be dropped/regressed in order to meet the exigencies of the 
actual release. There are still changes happening daily but the differences 
in functionality between now and the actual release on the day are 
unlikely to be hugely significant. Once it releases as stable, the 
differences from beginning to end of life are likely to amount to a 
single DVD's worth or so: each point release is generally only a couple of 
hundred MB.] Essentially, the release doesn't change once released.

> Apparently, this approach using the 
> appropriate package management calls will allow that same R/W DVD to be 
> automatically updated.  Another person advocating this approach 
> indicated that I could use the ISO files instead of creating a mirror of 
> the POOL (directory having the latests release, testing, and others) 
> packages.However, I like the idea but it may have a flaw which I detail 
> further on near the bottom.

I think you've been told about jigdo (JIGsaw DOwnload) - a method of 
building .iso files given an available Debian mirror. If you've already 
got full .iso's and want to "update" them, then you can use your 
existing .iso files, loop mount them and use them to bootstrap the later 
DVDs. This is only really useful if, for example, you're tracking 
Testing fairly regularly - otherwise the deltas between weekly DVD images 
become significant after about a fortnight and you're almost as quick to 

> Since I don't have my high speed Internet connection yet (could be 
> months yet) perhaps I could pay someone to construct and mail me such a 
> package.  Yes, I will pay but whoever wants to do this needs to commit 
> to a fixed shipping fee because this sounds like a custom approach not 
> available normally. Note also, that such an effort should be in US 
> dollars -- I am out here in the cold in a place called Northern Alberta, 
> Canada some 63 miles NE of the capital city of Edmonton, Alberta.

Do you know anybody at the University of Alberta / Kings University 
College / Concordia University College? Universities often have 
bandwidth, students and LUGs. That's 63 miles away/a couple of days by 
post. That way you could pay in $$CDN (or tire money / pints of beer 
next time you're in town :) )  

Taking £1 as $CDN 2.30 or so : one DVD-RW or DVD+RW at full price from a 
local PC store here in UK is about $2.50 at most. [You can buy DVD blank 
media by the 100 significantly cheaper]. Say $7.50 for media for binaries - 
another $7.50 for source if you wanted it = $15 for media. Factor in petrol 
at about $4.60 a gallon - perhaps $18 for fuel. A round total of $45 / £20 
if you drove to Edmonton and didn't do anything else. Where _exactly_ are 
you: send my your mailing address by private email - I won't spam you and 
I will voluntarily burn you a set of binaries on DVD and mail them to you. 
It can't cost me more than $CDN 25 to do that :)

> Failing that, I may have to find someone in the LUG in Edmonton that 
> would do this task.  But this is not easily arranged unless someone 
> knows a specific person with the suitable knowledge, time, and interest 
> to do this on my behalf.

See above.

> Note: We are talking about an older and therefore stable ETCH 
> distribution consisting of the entire set (yes I know I only need the 
> first few CDs) but I want it all -- all 14 or so and on DVDs and these 
> DVD's must be both READ and WRITE.  When I get the high speed interface 
> then I can download the updates myself perhaps using the ISO images but 
> for now the proposed idea is two use the one set of R/W DVDs that can 
> provide the initial installation and also allow for the periodic 
> upgrade. 

Cost difference between DVD-R and RW is meaningless :)

> I'm not sure that the "upgrade" suggestion will work because to 
> work would involve (for just one package) a possible disturbance in one 
> complete DVD and maybe two depending upon the location of the package 
> and the free space on the DVDs.

Yes, this is the problem with .jigdo and re-using previous images. It 
wouldn't be a problem with stable - stable doesn't change very 
significantly from point release to point release.

You don't mention previous Unix/Linux experience. If you are a novice at 
this, you might want to have someone on the end of a phone to talk you 
through this. Although I've done this before, I'm not necessarily 
willing to brave time zone differences and trans-Atlantic phone costs :)

> Some comments on this would be appreciated.
> Nevertheless, I will still be going ahead with my Local LAN POOL archive 
> once I have the high speed interface.

You almost certainly won't need a full archive: if you just want to 
update machines, you can use apt-move / apt-cacher and build a local 
repository on one machine of the packages installed on that machine so 
that you can bootstrap others.

> Thanks, Ted



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