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Re: Portable Debian?

On Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:44:31 -0400
Steve Matzura <sm@noisynotes.com> wrote:

> On Mon, 25 Apr 2016 20:22:48 +0100, Joe wrote:
> >I've found that a minimal installation, then dpkg --get-selections
> >and --set-selections and a bit of judicious /etc copying, to be a
> >fairly painless way to get a clean near-copy of an existing
> >installation. I migrated a server, I think lenny or squeeze, from
> >32bit to 64bit hardware that way, and it had years of configurations
> >built up by then, having started life as sarge. I did actually try a
> >straight copy and then an in-place 32bit to 64bit upgrade, but the
> >complexity quickly outran my gumption, and I cheated.  
> Sounds like a plan. I'll look into the external disk thing first. One
> final question: Is it even possible to build an all-hardware system?
> Different machines have different audio cips, disk controllers, etc.,
> so what's the best way to ensure one of these portable builds will run
> on as many varieties of hardware as possible? 

I've found one PC my system won't boot on, but it wasn't worth the
effort of finding out why. I'm guessing that the problem was very
fundamental, that the BIOS was unwilling to boot from a USB-based hard
drive. There was absolutely no attempt to access the drive, even when
the BIOS boot settings were such that it should have tried.

> Or is that not a valid
> consideration? Maybe what I should be doing is to build the system on
> the specific piece of hardware I want to run it on? That way I know it
> will run correctly.

At some point in the installation, you are asked whether you want
drivers for just the detected hardware, or all current drivers. Also,
there are still 32-bit computers around (my netbook is one) so a 32-bit
build will be a little more versatile at the cost of a small amount of
speed on 64-bit hardware.

The most versatile system that I know of is Debian-based Knoppix, but
the development effort goes into hardware detection and driving, with
the result that it is not maintainable. It is installable to a hard
drive, but you throw it away and install the next version when that
becomes available, there is no carefully-designed upgrade path as with
straight Debian.

So I don't think it's possible to make a long-term boot-anywhere
installation, but a 32-bit all-drivers Debian goes a long way towards
the goal.


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