Debian Live Handbuch


1. About this manual

1.1 For the impatient
1.2 Terms
1.3 Authors
1.4 Contributing to this document
1.4.1 Applying patches
1.4.2 Translation

2. Über das Debian Live Projekt

2.1 Motivation
2.1.1 What is wrong with current live systems
2.1.2 Why create our own live system?
2.2 Philosophy
2.2.1 Only unchanged, official packages
2.2.2 No package configuration of the live system
2.3 Contact


3. Installation

3.1 Requirements
3.2 Installing live-build
3.2.1 From the Debian repository
3.2.2 From source
3.2.3 From 'snapshots'
3.3 live-boot and live-config
3.3.1 From the Debian repository
3.3.2 From source
3.3.3 From 'snapshots'

4. The basics

4.1 What is a live system?
4.2 First steps: building an ISO image
4.2.1 Testing an ISO image with Qemu
4.2.2 Testing an ISO image with virtualbox-ose
4.2.3 Burning an ISO image to a physical medium
4.3 Building a USB/HDD image
4.3.1 Copying USB/HDD image to a USB stick
4.3.2 Testing a USB/HDD image with Qemu
4.3.3 Using the space left on a USB stick
4.4 Building a netboot image
4.4.1 DHCP server
4.4.2 TFTP server
4.4.3 NFS server
4.4.4 Netboot testing HowTo
4.4.5 Qemu
4.4.6 VMWare Player

5. Overview of tools

5.1 live-build
5.1.1 The lb config command
5.1.2 The lb build command
5.1.3 The lb clean command
5.2 The live-boot package
5.3 The live-config package

6. Managing a configuration

6.1 Use auto to manage configuration changes
6.2 Example auto scripts

7. Customization overview

7.1 Build time vs. boot time configuration
7.2 Stages of the build
7.3 Supplement lb config with files
7.4 Customization tasks

8. Customizing package installation

8.1 Package sources
8.1.1 Distribution, archive areas and mode
8.1.2 Distribution mirrors
8.1.3 Distribution mirrors used at build time
8.1.4 Distribution mirrors used at run time
8.1.5 Additional repositories
8.2 Choosing packages to install
8.2.1 Choosing a few packages
8.2.2 Package lists
8.2.3 Predefined package lists
8.2.4 Local package lists
8.2.5 Local binary package lists
8.2.6 Extending a provided package list using includes
8.2.7 Using conditionals inside package lists
8.2.8 Tasks
8.2.9 Desktop and language tasks
8.3 Installing modified or third-party packages
8.3.1 Using chroot_local-packages to install custom packages
8.3.2 Using an APT repository to install custom packages
8.3.3 Custom packages and APT
8.4 Configuring APT at build time
8.4.1 Choosing apt or aptitude
8.4.2 Using a proxy with APT
8.4.3 Tweaking APT to save space
8.4.4 Passing options to apt or aptitude
8.4.5 APT pinning

9. Customizing contents

9.1 Includes
9.1.1 Live/chroot local includes
9.1.2 Binary local includes
9.1.3 Binary includes
9.2 Hooks
9.2.1 Live/chroot local hooks
9.2.2 Boot-time hooks
9.2.3 Binary local hooks
9.3 Preseeding Debconf questions

10. Customizing run time behaviours

10.1 Customizing the live user
10.2 Customizing locale and language
10.3 Persistence
10.3.1 Full persistence
10.3.2 Home automounting
10.3.3 Snapshots
10.3.4 Persistent SubText
10.3.5 Partial remastering

11. Customizing the binary image

11.1 Bootloader
11.2 ISO metadata

12. Customizing Debian Installer

12.1 Types of Debian Installer
12.2 Customizing Debian Installer by preseeding
12.3 Customizing Debian Installer content


13. Reporting bugs

13.1 Known issues
13.2 Rebuild from scratch
13.3 Use up-to-date packages
13.4 Collect information
13.5 Isolate the failing case if possible
13.6 Use the correct package to report the bug against
13.6.1 At build time whilst bootstrapping
13.6.2 At build time whilst installing packages
13.6.3 At boot time
13.6.4 At run time
13.7 Do the research
13.8 Where to report bugs

14. Coding Style

14.1 Compatibility
14.2 Indenting
14.3 Wrapping
14.4 Variables
14.5 Miscellaneous

15. Procedures

15.1 Udeb Uploads
15.2 Major Releases
15.3 Point Releases
15.3.1 Point release announcement template


16. Examples

16.1 Using the examples
16.2 Tutorial 1: A standard image
16.3 Tutorial 2: A web browser utility
16.4 Tutorial 3: A personalized image
16.4.1 First revision
16.4.2 Second revision
16.5 A VNC Kiosk Client
16.6 A base image for a 128M USB key
16.7 A localized KDE desktop and installer

Debian Live Handbuch


13. Reporting bugs

Debian Live is far from being perfect, but we want to make it as close as possible to perfect - with your help. Do not hesitate to report a bug: it is better to fill a report twice than never. However, this chapter includes recommendations how to file good bug reports.

For the impatient:

  • Always check first the image status updates on our homepage at ‹› for known issues.
  • Always try to reproduce the bug with the most recent versions of live-build, live-boot, and live-config before submitting a bug report.
  • Try to give as specific information as possible about the bug. This includes (at least) the version of live-build, live-boot, and live-config used and the distribution of the live system you are building.
  • 13.1 Known issues

    Because Debian testing and Debian unstable distributions are a moving target, when you specify either as the target system distribution, a successful build may not always be possible.

    If this causes too much difficulty for you, do not build a system based on testing or unstable, but rather, use stable. live-build does always default to the stable release.

    Currently known issues are listed under the section 'status' on our homepage at ‹›.

    It is out of the scope of this manual to train you to correctly identify and fix problems in packages of the development distributions, however, there are two things you can always try: If a build fails when the target distribution is testing, try unstable. If unstable does not work either, revert to testing and pin the newer version of the failing package from unstable (see APT pinning for details).

    13.2 Rebuild from scratch

    To ensure that a particular bug is not caused by an uncleanly built system, please always rebuild the whole live system from scratch to see if the bug is reproducible.

    13.3 Use up-to-date packages

    Using outdated packages can cause significant problems when trying to reproduce (and ultimately fix) your problem. Make sure your build system is up-to-date and any packages included in your image are up-to-date as well.

    13.4 Collect information

    Please provide enough information with your report. At least include the exact version of live-build version where the bug is encountered and steps to reproduce it. Please use common sense and include other relevant information if you think that it might help in solving the problem.

    To make the most out of your bug report, we require at least the following information:

  • Architecture of the host system
  • Version of live-build on the host system
  • Version of live-boot on the live system
  • Version of live-config on the live system
  • Version of debootstrap and/or cdebootstrap on the host system
  • Architecture of the live system
  • Distribution of the live system
  • Version of the kernel on the live system
  • You can generate a log of the build process by using the tee command. We recommend doing this automatically with an auto/build script; (see Managing a configuration for details).

       # lb build 2>&1 | tee build.log

    At boot time, live-boot stores a log in /var/log/live.log (or /var/log/live-boot.log).

    Additionally, to rule out other errors, it is always a good idea to tar up your config/ directory and upload it somewhere (do not send it as an attachment to the mailing list), so that we can try to reproduce the errors you encountered. If this is difficult (e.g. due to size) you can use the output of lb config --dump which produces a summary of your config tree (i.e. lists files in subdirectories of config/ but does not include them).

    Remember to send in any logs that were produced with English locale settings, e.g. run your live-build commands with a leading LC_ALL=C or LC_ALL=en_US.

    13.5 Isolate the failing case if possible

    If possible, isolate the failing case to the smallest possible change that breaks. It is not always easy to do this, so if you can't manage it for your report, don't worry. However, if you plan your development cycle well, using small enough change sets per iteration, you may be able to isolate the problem by constructing a simpler 'base' configuration that closely matches your actual configuration plus just the broken change set added to it. If you have a hard time sorting out which of your changes broke, it may be that you are including too much in each change set and should develop in smaller increments.

    13.6 Use the correct package to report the bug against

    Where does the bug appear?

    13.6.1 At build time whilst bootstrapping

    live-build first bootstraps a basic Debian system with debootstrap or cdebootstrap. Depending on the bootstrapping tool used and the Debian distribution it is bootstrapping, it may fail. If a bug appears here, check if the error is related to a specific Debian package (most likely), or if it is related to bootstrapping tool itself.

    In both cases, this is not a bug in Debian Live, but rather in Debian itself which we can not fix this directly. Please report such a bug against the bootstrapping tool or the failing package.

    13.6.2 At build time whilst installing packages

    live-build installs additional packages from the Debian archive and depending on the Debian distribution used and the daily archive state, it can fail. If a bug appears here, check if the error is also reproducible on a normal system.

    If this is the case, this is not a bug in Debian Live, but rather in Debian - please report it against the failing package. Running debootstrap separately from the Live system build or running lb bootstrap --debug will give you more information.

    Also, if you are using a local mirror and/or any of sort of proxy and you are experiencing a problem, please always reproduce it first by bootstrapping from an official mirror.

    13.6.3 At boot time

    If your image does not boot, please report it to the mailing list together with the information requested in Collect information. Do not forget to mention, how/when the image failed, in Qemu, Virtualbox, VMWare or real hardware. If you are using a virtualization technology of any kind, please always run it on real hardware before reporting a bug. Providing a screenshot of the failure is also very helpful.

    13.6.4 At run time

    If a package was successfully installed, but fails while actually running the Live system, this is probably a bug in Debian Live. However,

    13.7 Do the research

    Before filing the bug, please search the web for the particular error message or symptom you are getting. As it is highly unlikely that you are the only person experiencing a particular problem, there is always a chance that it has been discussed elsewhere, and a possible solution, patch, or workaround has been proposed.

    You should pay particular attention to the Debian Live mailing list, as well as the homepage, as these are likely to contain the most up-to-date information. If such information exists, always include the references to it in your bug report.

    In addition, you should check the current bug lists for live-build, live-boot, and live-config to see whether something similar has been reported already.

    13.8 Where to report bugs

    The Debian Live project keeps track of all bugs in the Debian Bug Tracking System (BTS). For information on how to use the system, please see ‹›. You can also submit the bugs by using the reportbug command from the package with the same name.

    In general, you should report build time errors against the live-build package, boot time errors against live-boot, and run time errors against live-config. If you are unsure of which package is appropriate or need more help before submitting a bug report, please send a message to the mailing list and we will help you to figure it out.

    Please note that bugs found in distributions derived from Debian (such as Ubuntu and others) should not be reported to the Debian BTS unless they can be also reproduced on a Debian system using official Debian packages.