Raspbian Installer


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by jerry.tk » Fri May 25, 2012 1:19 pm
Here is the first version of Raspbian installer. It is a netboot initramfs embedded in kernel. Just unzip kernel.img and copy it along with other RasPi bootfiles to any FAT32 formatted SD card. There's no need for special partitions on the card, the installer will partition and format the card during the installation.
There are some warnings during the installation, if you are not sure just select Continue or something similar...

The downside of using the installer is that it takes an awful lot of time even when installing just a basic system. If you just want to check something quickly, you might be better off just using ready-made Raspbian images.

The installer installs only the most basic set of bootfiles and no kernel modules, so it might be useful to run Hexxeh's rpi-update which is already preinstalled. It will install the most current RasPi kernel, modules and Broadcom libraries. (Well, the current kernel served by rpi-update is quite unhappy with mmc I/O and prints a lot of errors into the console. I also suspect it of killing my SD filesystem. YMMV.)

You can download the installer here: http://www.multiupload.nl/1EQA1TO4LN
Here is initramfs.cpio for hackers: http://www.multiupload.nl/5P31W13OAC

And BTW: Happy Towel Day! :lol:
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by mpthompson » Fri May 25, 2012 3:33 pm
This is terrific. There is a chance I may get my RPi today so I can't wait to give it a try. I'll give plenty of feedback once I have it running.

The Debian installer usually does take a fairly long time on all the platforms that I've ever run it on. Despite this, I believe an installer should become the preferred way to install Raspbian as it allows people to configure their timezone, keyboard, preferred packages, etc. from the get-go. I have no doubt we'll always see images, but those should be used by people who are knowledgeable with how to adjust a Linux configuration to their specific needs.
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by plugwash » Fri May 25, 2012 3:48 pm
Personally I'd preffer a tool that prompted for things like timezone and keyboard layout on first boot, it would be far quicker than installing everything from packages and would offer many of the same benefits.

The "tasks" selection in the debian installer has always seemed near-useless to me so I don't see that as a big advantage.
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by jerry.tk » Fri May 25, 2012 4:29 pm
I am pretty much Linux n00b. I went the official installer way since I thought it would be within my capabilities just to tweak a few config files there. Well, turned out it wasn't that easy but eventually I managed to hack together something useful.
Raspbian installer is just an armhf debian-installer enabled for RasPi. Except for exchanging binaries and packaging I basically tweaked preseed.cfg config file and added RasPi bootfiles with install script. I am including current preseed.cfg so that you can have an idea what can be changed here.

I think it would be useful to also have a tool for preparing some typical Raspbian images, exactly as plugwash suggests. Installing via installer takes 60+ minutes, it might be boring for some people, especially children. OTOH it might have some educational value, too.
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preseed.cfg.gz
Raspbian installer preseed.cfg
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by mpthompson » Fri May 25, 2012 5:37 pm
plugwash wrote:Personally I'd preffer a tool that prompted for things like timezone and keyboard layout on first boot, it would be far quicker than installing everything from packages and would offer many of the same benefits.


I think the reality is Raspbian will have both. No reason for it to be an either/or proposition. The user can decide which method they would like to start with to install Raspbian on their Raspberry Pi. Whatever method the user chooses, I just really want the process to be simple to understand and use.

The Debian Project seems to be very proud of the Debian installer, even though they recognize it's not the prettiest and has some warts. For Raspbian, having a Debian installer, keeps us aligned with Debian in that regard which is something I hope that will be appreciated when Debian purists start to use Raspbian and they can start from an absolute known minimal configuration.

For people who want to hit the ground running an image would, of course, be the quickest route to go.
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by mpthompson » Sat May 26, 2012 5:45 am
jerry.tk wrote:You can download the installer here: http://www.multiupload.nl/1EQA1TO4LN
Here is initramfs.cpio for hackers: http://www.multiupload.nl/5P31W13OAC


Hmmm. Finally got all setup to test out the install this evening, but I found that I can't seem to access it from the multiupload.nl site. :( Whatever page I view on the multiupload site is completely blank. I tried it on both firefox and ie, so it doesn't seem to be browser related.

If the problem doesn't clear up on Saturday, perhaps you can try uploading the files to another site.

Mike
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by jerry.tk » Sat May 26, 2012 6:12 am
Try this link to my Dropbox: http://db.tt/bHlZRNaE

I am preparing a new version with patched sysctl.conf, I will upload it later today.
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by mpthompson » Sat May 26, 2012 6:45 am
Got it, but it's now nearly midnight and I need to get some sleep. I'll look at this over the weekend. Thank you for your efforts.
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by jerry.tk » Sat May 26, 2012 8:54 am
New version of installer with sysctl.conf patch applied both to installer and installed system is here: installer-kernel.zip.
Backup link: installer-kernel.zip (Dropbox)
initramfs: initramfs.cpio.gz

Testing another multiupload site, hopefully this one will get through.
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by ScoobyDoo » Sat May 26, 2012 4:06 pm
Could someone give me some noob instructions on how to compile this.
Do I write the image file to the SD card and then boot it with the pi?
Does a auto installer auto load on the pi and create the Debian image on the card?
Do I need to copy any other files over to the SD card?

Sorry for the basic questions but I've just got my pi and want to test out 'motion' CCTV package on the hard float as it will greatly assist in this package.

Thanks
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by jerry.tk » Sat May 26, 2012 4:49 pm
You don't need to compile anything, but you will need some Debian or Raspbian SD card to take other bootfiles from. Those files will probably be added to installer archive later when it will be tested enough.
In your case it would be faster just to use Raspbian V3 image, do 'rpi-update', 'apt-get update', 'apt-get upgrade' and 'apt-get install motion'.
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by ScoobyDoo » Sat May 26, 2012 7:35 pm
Thanks, I'll download and use the r3 image and have a play with installing motion and other packages over the next few days
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by mpthompson » Sun May 27, 2012 6:45 am
Jerrry.tk, I finally got a good chance to work with the installer.

First of all, let me say, coming from someone who claims to be a Linux n00b, it is a terrific piece of work and a perfect start for the installer. With it, I was able to perform a full install of Raspbian. The result of the installer is a system configured much closer to what the average user would expect in a Linux install than a bare minimum image that we've been creating.

However, as noted previously, it is very slow. I'm certain this is because the class 4 SDHC media that I installed to is very slow. I started the install about 3:00 pm and the base install didn't finish until about nearly 4:30 pm. At the end of the install, when I got a chance to choose what additional software to install, I selected Debian Desktop Environment, SSH server and Standard System Utilities. This selected another 810 packages which took 3 1/2 more to install. The total install took just over 5 hours to complete.

I'm going to put my full notes on a Wiki page tomorrow, but some quick things regarding the installer.

To create the SDHC card with the installer, I simply formatted the card as FAT32 and copied the kernel image and other Raspberry Pi boot files onto it. The installer properly took care of re-partitioning and formatting the SDHC card during the installation process.

The Debian Desktop Environment configured is Gnome 3. It does run in a fallback mode, but we really need XFCE or LXDE selected as the default desktop environment as Gnome 3 is simply too heavy for the Raspberry Pi. I'm not sure if this is something difficult or not-difficult to do with the installer.

After the installation, I did run into problems with the mouse and keyboard with X Windows. Part of the issue was a version mismatch problem between the Xserver and the keyboard and mouse driver packages. I think I have that sorted out, but I did need to create an /etc/X11/xorg.conf to get the input devices working. I'll have to look into this more to understand why I needed to do the additional manual configuration of the X server.

Getting back to the performance, with google I came across the following link that indicates we may want to tweak the kernel to better work with SD cards as the installation media. These notes are for an i386 install of Debian on Flash, but it may help us with an Arm version as well.

http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEeePC/HowT ... OrUsbStick

I don't know the specifics of how Debian unpacks and installs a binary package, but I have the impression that it creates a lot of intermediate files/directories as it unpacks the package and puts the files into different locations. If so, it may be possible to do this in a 64MB ram disk (or whatever size might be most appropriate) which might speed up much of the installation operations.

That's it for right now as it is getting late for me. I'll give more feedback soon.
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by jerry.tk » Sun May 27, 2012 9:24 am
Mike, all I can really take credit for is some tweaking of preseed.cfg and a little post-install script for installing RasPi specific stuff. :) Otherwise it is just plain vanilla debian-installer. As soon as we'll be able to compile it, there will be more room for customizations - for example built-in list of Raspbian mirrors, etc.

Regarding installed desktop environment: installer just runs tasksel in the background so I guess we will be able to provide it with our own lists of packages. Maybe if we just reduce the number of installed packages to some reasonable minimum, the installer would finish in an acceptable time. Tasks for tasksel are stored in tasksel-data package, in /usr/share/tasksel/descs/debian-tasks.desc file. We could use for example lubuntu tasks here, they seem to be more lightweight.

I tried installing Raspbian to a fast USB stick, but the installer took approximately the same time as with SD. Maybe USB or CPU was the bottleneck here?

My strategy is to install 'Standard system utilities' only and add stuff via apt-get later. 'Apt-get install lxde' works fine, but it boots straight into GUI. Found out installing 'xorg-core' and 'lxde-core' is good enough for me.
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by jerry.tk » Sun May 27, 2012 11:14 am
Just a follow-up to installing custom package lists: I suppose if we prepared some 'raspbian-meta' package similar to for example lubuntu-meta, it would enable building raspbian-core, raspbian-desktop or any other raspbian flavoured install package. Then we would just modify tasksel task list to include those new meta packages into selection. Those meta packages could be of course also installed later via apt-get.
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by mpthompson » Tue May 29, 2012 7:11 am
Sorry it took a while, but I finally found some time to gather my notes on the installation process and put them on the following wiki page:

http://www.raspbian.org/RaspbianInstaller

These notes will basically walk a person through the process of using the installer in its current state. I would like to keep the page up to date as the installer evolves.

BTW, the installer is what I used to create the Raspbian image file I posted earlier today.
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by Montala » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:33 am
This is starting to look very interesting indeed, I would like to thank all those who are currently involved, and who are putting so much effort into this particular project.
I am still quite new to this sort of thing, and like to try and understand what I am about to do before I start doing it (if that makes sense!) and my first thoughts were that I would like to be able to incorporate a 'kernel' into the initial 'build'.... (which doesn't appear to be there at the moment)
I assume that it can be added later, but I always thought that it a fairly essential part of any OS!
Hopefully this is something which can be resolved quite quickly, and I do appreciate that things are still at a very early stage, but (despite the time element involved!) the idea of using an installer such as this one is very appealing to me.
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by mpthompson » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:56 am
Mantala, there are efforts underway to package up the kernel so hopefully we'll see something come out fairly soon. Fortunately, this project can use the standard Raspberry Pi kernel, the same used for the Debian image released by the Raspberry Pi foundation. For now, that is the kernel that is installed as part of the installer.
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by Montala » Fri Jun 01, 2012 9:48 am
Thanks Mike, but it was just when I was reading through your wiki page about the installer (http://www.raspbian.org/RaspbianInstaller) I noticed that under "Download installer components" it said
"No kernel modules were found. This probably is due to a mismatch between the kernel used by this version of the installer and the kernel version available in the archive.
Continue the install without loading kernel modules?"

Which is what really prompted my question.

In your reply you say that "the kernel is installed as part of the installer", so if that is the case, why wasn't it found?... or am being a bit thick here, and missing something which should be very obvious?
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by jerry.tk » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:53 am
No kernel modules were found.

Those are modules used during installation - less used filesystems, crypto etc. Currently some of this stuff is compiled straight into the installer kernel and some modules are really missing. It shouldn't give you much problems though, only maybe if you choose to install to encrypted partition - that will probably fail.

Currently there is no standard RasPi kernel installer package - this is why you are seeing those kernel related error messages. This issue is worked around by including somewhat current kernel.img into installer initramfs and copying it to RasPi boot partition directly after installer is done. This way you will be able to boot your RasPi after installation and you are expected to run rpi-update asap. That script will install the latest kernel along with its modules and Broadcom libraries.

It is not very obvious, I agree. But if you'll follow Mike's installing recipe, you will end up with a nicely working RasPi, I promise :)
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by Montala » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:29 pm
jerry.tk wrote:It is not very obvious, I agree. But if you'll follow Mike's installing recipe, you will end up with a nicely working RasPi, I promise :)

Thanks Jerry,
I will certainly hold you to that promise... but unfortunately that won't happen until I do actually receive a Raspberry Pi, which I hope is not too far away now!
By then I expect your project will have advanced still further though!
Just one final question, for the moment anyway.. when asked to configure your time zone, is there a selection to chose from, or is that a 'free text' entry?
In the wiki, for example, Pacific has been entered, but I am in the U.K. and would require GMT or the equivalent thereof.
Probably another silly question, but please do bear with me! ;)
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by jerry.tk » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:08 pm
Montala wrote:Just one final question, for the moment anyway.. when asked to configure your time zone, is there a selection to chose from, or is that a 'free text' entry?
In the wiki, for example, Pacific has been entered, but I am in the U.K. and would require GMT or the equivalent thereof.
Probably another silly question, but please do bear with me! ;)


No problem :) Apart from those kernel and firmware hacks this is pretty much standard Debian installer - you can select from a list of countries when selecting system locale and your timezone is derived from selected country.
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by mpthompson » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:15 pm
jerry.tk wrote:No problem :) Apart from those kernel and firmware hacks this is pretty much standard Debian installer - you can select from a list of countries when selecting system locale and your timezone is derived from selected country.


Based on the feedback, I've copied some of the notes above in the Wiki to help users understand that its OK to proceed without a kernel or the kernel modules. Other similar notes can be added if there is confusion as to what should be selected in the installation process.
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by jerry.tk » Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:34 pm
New version of installer with updated kernel (fast SD cards supported), also root partition is now created last for easier resizing. Download: installer-kernel.zip, initramfs.cpio (for installer hackers).
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by mpthompson » Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:12 pm
jerry.tk wrote:New version of installer with updated kernel (fast SD cards supported), also root partition is now created last for easier resizing. Download: installer-kernel.zip, initramfs.cpio (for installer hackers).


Thank you much. I'll give it a whirl. Plugwash is making progress on a kernel package. Hopefully that will make it's way into the installer down the line.
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