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Journal of Corion (7288)

Sunday November 05, 2006
05:49 PM

"Answer file" for Debian netinstall CDs

[ #31520 ]

As I'm currently toying around with VMWare Player (another blog entry), I'm looking for a convenient way to automate the generation of my Debian virtual machines. The Debian setup seems to be very inconveniently automatable - for Windows, there is the concept of an "answer file", which you generate once with all the answers for a setup and which you can then put onto a floppy disk and the installer will pick up all the answers from there and ask the open questions.

For Debian, I've only found the gigantic moloch that is FAI, which is far too big and far too unwieldly, when all I want to do is to specify one or two new users to create, some additional Debian packages to download, and maybe the http:// URL of a Perl script to run afterwards.

So, I'm asking the lazyweb, if somebody has a convenient way to supply the answers to the Debian setup without too much hassle, as a floppy disk (image) or maybe as a small (Perl) webserver or whatever. I'd pretty much prefer not to create a separate .iso for each instance ...

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  • It's a tricky topic because of the layers of software - dpkg handling the package format, apt handling the dependencies and debconf handling the configuration. What you need to do is pre-seed the debconf database with answers to the questions. The debconf-set-selections command seems to be the tool for the job.

    The other thing you'll need to do is select the 'noninteractive' frontend to debconf to stop it asking questions. I use a command like this:

    DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get --assume-yes i