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= Hard won knowledge I =
There are several ways to overcome the limitation of 255/225(?) characters on the kernel command line, such as using local preseed files. This gem
http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2005/03/msg01061.html
states that a local preseed.cfg will automatically be used when placed
in the root directory of the initrd.

= Hard won knowledge II =
add "languagechooser/language-name=English" to the append line of your boot loader, it can't be preseeded any other way. (Thanks, Christian Perrier)

= Hard won knowledge III =
To make partman continue automatically, be sure to have the partman/confirm
set to true in your preseed. (Beware, this fsck's up your drive real good!)
preseed.cfg:
= Notes =
 * Do not work of a debconf-get-selections (--installer) generated preseed.cfg but get the values from it and modify http://www.debian.org/releases/sarge/example-preseed.txt with them.
 * Be aware there is only one space in preseed files between subkey and value on "owner key/subkey value" lines. debconf-get-selections generates extra spaces.
 * Kernel parameters. The total length is not to exceed 255/225(?) characters, (2.6.8); kernels >= 2.6.9 should be able to handle up to 32 parameters.
 * Unable to reproduce http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2005/03/msg01061.html statement that a /preseed.cfg file in the initrd.gz works.
 * The following parameters can not be preseeded any other way then from the kernel commandline : "languagechooser/language-name=English" "countrychooser/shortlist=US", "console-keymaps-at/keymap=us" and "netcfg/choose_interface=eth0||auto".
 * When a preseed install stops unexpectedly on partman, the following line maybe is missing from your preseed.cfg (beware, this fsck's up your drive real good!) preseed.cfg:
Line 43: Line 37:

(Thanks, Christian Perrier)

= Hard won knowledge IV =
As Joey said, do not use /preseed.cfg in your initrd.gz (I should have listened). I tried it and failed, it couldn't get the local mirror. Using the exact same preseed file with preseed/url=... worked like a charm.
 * As Joey said, do not use /preseed.cfg in your initrd.gz (I should have listened). I tried hard and failed, it couldn't get the local mirror. Using the exact same preseed file with preseed/url=... worked like a charm.
 * To reboot automatically at the end of the 1st stage, add in preseed.cfg:
Line 52: Line 43:
Makes the reboot automatically at the end of the 1st stage.

= how to easier win knowledge =
 * read the fine manual at http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual
 * espcially the chapter about preseeding at http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en.i386/ch04s07.html
 * study the preseeding example in the manual at http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en.i386/apcs01.html
 * it contains - at least - "hard won knowledge II-IV" ;-)

Preseeding d-i

Most of the questions asked by DebianInstaller can be preseeded by setting the answers in the debconf database. This can be used to do automatic installs. This page gathers our collective knowledge on the topic, so please add any tips you have.

There are currently two main mechanisms to preseed debconf values. Values can be set on the installer's boot line, for example this is useful for testing the unstable version of the installer in a netboot install:

  linux mirror/suite=unstable

The preseed udebs can be used to load a file containing values to preseed, either from the network or local media. The installation manual explains how to set this up: http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en.i386/ch04s07.html#automatic-install and includes a complete example. Note that you can check preseed-files for errors with "debconf-set-selections -c $file".

Also note that most preseeding support has been added after rc1 of the installer.

If you need the preseeding feature for a fully automated installation in a network with dhcp server be careful to not exceed the maximum of eight parameters for the kernel to boot. This could be a slight problem if you want to use a different language, keymap and country. Another fact: if you want to use dhcp to set the hostname and domain automatically, you need to pass "debconf/priority=critical" to the kernel at boot time and set "d-i netcfg/get_hostname" and "d-i netcfg/get_domain" to "string unassigned-hostname" and "string unassigned-domain".

Examples

Post here any links you have to example preseed files. Note that using any of these files directly is not wise, as a malicious person could probably come up with values for a preseed file that makes d-i misbehave. Also, the files are downloaded over http, so are vulnerable to man in the middle spoof attacks. The best way to use any preseed file is to copy it to your own local web server or media, and look it over before using it.

Notes

  • Do not work of a debconf-get-selections (--installer) generated preseed.cfg but get the values from it and modify http://www.debian.org/releases/sarge/example-preseed.txt with them.

  • Be aware there is only one space in preseed files between subkey and value on "owner key/subkey value" lines. debconf-get-selections generates extra spaces.
  • Kernel parameters. The total length is not to exceed 255/225(?) characters, (2.6.8); kernels >= 2.6.9 should be able to handle up to 32 parameters.

  • Unable to reproduce http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2005/03/msg01061.html statement that a /preseed.cfg file in the initrd.gz works.

  • The following parameters can not be preseeded any other way then from the kernel commandline : "languagechooser/language-name=English" "countrychooser/shortlist=US", "console-keymaps-at/keymap=us" and "netcfg/choose_interface=eth0||auto".

  • When a preseed install stops unexpectedly on partman, the following line maybe is missing from your preseed.cfg (beware, this fsck's up your drive real good!) preseed.cfg:

  d-i   partman/confirm                 boolean true
  • As Joey said, do not use /preseed.cfg in your initrd.gz (I should have listened). I tried hard and failed, it couldn't get the local mirror. Using the exact same preseed file with preseed/url=... worked like a charm.
  • To reboot automatically at the end of the 1st stage, add in preseed.cfg:

  d-i  prebaseconfig/reboot_in_progress   note