BabelBox: automated DebianInstaller testing and demo machine

Principles

Babelbox is a system designed to demonstrate the automation capabilities of the Debian Installer.

It also focuses on the high number and the quality of translations currently available for the installer. As is, it is well suited for a live demo on a booth in an expo or any other event.

Babelbox is based on the hd-media installation method and can be run off a single machine, even without networking.

For this setup using a single "clean" harddisk is recommended. A setup using two harddisks is also possible but will need some modifications in the preseed file and scripts.

The original Babelbox setup (see DebianInstaller/BabelBoxOrig) was based on the netboot installation method and requires a separate server besides the actual demo machine.

Setting up the demo machine

The demo machine will be set up for two multi-boot systems:

Installing the controlling system

Perform a basic installation using your preferred installation method. When you get to partitioning, exit to the main menu and use fdisk to partition the disk as follows:

   Device Boot   Start      End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        1      486     3903763+  83  Linux
/dev/sda2          487      548      498015   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda3          549      899     2819629    f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda4          900     4998    32925217+  83  Linux

The idea here is to create a first partition to hold the controlling system and to leave the third (extended) partition free for the demo system. The fourth primary partition is just to fill up the harddisk so that formatting for the demo system will not take unnecessary long. The fourth primary partition must be defined, even if it is only one sector in size. Good guidelines for size are 1.5 to 4 GB for the controlling system and 2.5 to 3 GB for the demo system.

After you finish partitioning using fdisk, return to the installation menu and restart partman. Use the manual partitioning option to select the first partition for the root file system for the controlling system. Install the system with only the "Standard" task. Install GRUB into the MBR of the disk.

Setting up the controlling system to run Babelbox

Everything needed to run the demo will be placed in /srv on the controlling system.

Please take some time to look over the contents of the files in the /srv/babelbox directory that should now have been created.

Note that the default setup assumes your harddisk is /dev/sda. If this is not the case, you will have to do a search and replace before you continue.

Next, add two extra menu items at the end of the grub menu for booting babelbox:

$ cd babelbox
$ cat babelbox-grub >>/boot/grub/menu.lst

Note that the scripts assume that the babelbox options will be the 3rd and 4th options in the grub boot menu. You may want to reduce the timeout after you've completed setting up things.

After that there's a few more things that need to be done.

Errata

Disclaimer

As part of a babelbox run, the third partition of the first detected disk will be deleted unconditionally. You have been warned!

The babelbox tarball has been updated to work with Etch RC2.