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Re: An easy-to-install Hurd distribution

From: Marcus Brinkmann
Subject: Re: An easy-to-install Hurd distribution
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 21:25:29 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.1.4i

On Thu, Nov 30, 2000 at 02:43:36PM -0500, Robert J. Chassell wrote:
>    This additional complexity is required to provide a generic solution. What
>    you imagine is a solution for your very own desktop and setup ...
> Right.  I am not arguing against the more generic solution.  Indeed,
> it is much more important.  
> But if someone who is not going to work on the generic solution wants
> to work on a specific solution that will help me (and lots of people
> like me), then we will enjoy a net gain.

I think it is time I get more specific about the points you mentioned, so
you see that a not too complicated solution is directly available to you.

On Wed, Nov 29, 2000 at 09:17:20AM -0500, Robert J. Chassell wrote:
> 1. Specify the appropriate deb line in my 
>         /etc/apt/sources.list 
>    file on a Pentium 100 machine currently running Debian GNU/Linux,
>    including X Windows, on 23 Mbytes of RAM.
> 2. Let me run the following on that machine under Debian GNU/Linux,
>         apt-get install task-hurd
>    and download via my existing telephone dial up no more than 20 or
>    30 megabytes of .deb files that then install themselves.

Package: apt-zip
Priority: extra
Section: admin
Installed-Size: 36
Maintainer: Yann Dirson <>
Architecture: all
Version: 0.11
Depends: apt (>= 0.3.10)
Filename: dists/woody/main/binary-all/admin/apt-zip_0.11.deb
Size: 12024
MD5sum: b2b0502b7c6c586d2eaf416dc7f5a983
Description: Update a non-networked computer using apt and removable media
 These scripts simplify the process of using dselect and apt on a
 non-networked Debian box, using removable media like ZIP floppies.
 One generates a `fetch' script (supporting backends such as wget and
 lftp, in a modular, extensible way) to be run on a host with better
 connectivity, check space constraints of your removable media, and
 then install the package on your Debian box.
 Note on current version: space-checking is not done and spanning
 multiple disks is not yet supported.

> 2a. perhaps, in the process, offer to repartition my hard disk if
>     needed, with good explanations and reasonable suggestions, both
>     for the current drive in the machine (850 Mb) and for a different,
>     larger drive (5.2 Gb).  You can assume that the current Debian
>     GNU/Linux distribution on this machine takes up 550Mb.

This sounds awkward and better left in the and of a sysadmin, IMHO. In
anyway it is not Hurd specific at all. The partitioning in the Debian
installer can be improved (I think this is currently discussed in

> 3. Reboot the machine with a choice at the boot prompt of running
>    either Linux or Hurd.

GRUB, which will be the default in a future Debian version.
> 4. Boot successfully when I choose Hurd, and incorporate into the Hurd
>    configuration files the the PPP and other such kernel-independent
>    configuration information that the current Debian GNU/Linux already
>    has so I don't have to retype the information.

Mmmh. Many people will install the Hurd without having a Linux installation
that matches the same system. However, you should probably look at debconf,
which could offer a solution to this.

For most files, just copying the config files will work. PPP is agreeable
somewhat special.
> 5. After boot into Debian GNU/Hurd, offer
>         make gnu-hurd-apps-from-potato-CD-sources
>    which will take the sources for Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 (potato)
>    that I have on three CDs and build them into GNU/Hurd applications.

This is called autobuilding an done for all ports. We do distribute a binary
package collection so you don't need to do it! That's our job.

Anyway, autobuilding is not easy at all. Look at wanna build and turtle
(turtle was written by me for the Hurd, see

> 6. Also offer
>         make gnu-hurd-debs-from-potato-CD-sources
>    so I can then collect all the .deb files needed for a complete
>    Debian GNU/Hurd distribution and burn them onto three CDs like the
>    current Debian GNU/Linux distribution and give them to my sister's
>    husband, so he can install and run the Hurd on one of his machines.

This is done by the debian-cd package and currently reworked by Phillip
Hands so it works for the Hurd.

I hope I have shown to you that we do care about the points you made, but in
a somewhat different way. Not with make target, but with a complete set of
related tools. If you (or someone else) wants to work on any of these, you
are welcome, but it is not the main focus of Debian GNU/Hurd.


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' Debian
Marcus Brinkmann              GNU

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