Debian Live Manual

About

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 changes
1.4.2 Translation

2. About the Debian Live Project

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 packages from Debian "main"
2.2.2 No package configuration of the live system
2.3 Contact

User

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 Installing 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 Downloading prebuilt images
4.3 Using the web live image builder
4.3.1 Web builder usage and caveats
4.4 First steps: building an ISO hybrid image
4.5 Using an ISO hybrid live image
4.5.1 Burning an ISO image to a physical medium
4.5.2 Copying an ISO hybrid image to a USB stick
4.5.3 Using the space left on a USB stick
4.5.4 Booting the live medium
4.6 Using a virtual machine for testing
4.6.1 Testing an ISO image with QEMU
4.6.2 Testing an ISO image with virtualbox
4.7 Building and using an HDD image
4.8 Building a netboot image
4.8.1 DHCP server
4.8.2 TFTP server
4.8.3 NFS server
4.8.4 Netboot testing HowTo
4.8.5 Qemu

5. Overview of tools

5.1 The live-build package
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 Dealing with configuration changes
6.1.1 Why use auto scripts? What do they do?
6.1.2 Use example auto scripts
6.2 Clone a configuration published via Git

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 Package lists
8.2.2 Using metapackages
8.2.3 Local package lists
8.2.4 Local binary package lists
8.2.5 Generated package lists
8.2.6 Using conditionals inside package lists
8.2.7 Desktop and language tasks
8.2.8 Kernel flavour and version
8.2.9 Custom kernels
8.3 Installing modified or third-party packages
8.3.1 Using packages.chroot 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
9.2 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 The persistence.conf file
10.3.2 Using more than one persistence store

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

Project

13. Contributing to the project

13.1 Making changes

14. Reporting bugs

14.1 Known issues
14.2 Rebuild from scratch
14.3 Use up-to-date packages
14.4 Collect information
14.5 Isolate the failing case if possible
14.6 Use the correct package to report the bug against
14.6.1 At build time while bootstrapping
14.6.2 At build time while installing packages
14.6.3 At boot time
14.6.4 At run time
14.7 Do the research
14.8 Where to report bugs

15. Coding Style

15.1 Compatibility
15.2 Indenting
15.3 Wrapping
15.4 Variables
15.5 Miscellaneous

16. Procedures

16.1 Major Releases
16.2 Point Releases
16.2.1 Last Point Release of a Debian Release
16.2.2 Point release announcement template

17. Git repositories

17.1 Handling multiple repositories

Examples

18. Examples

18.1 Using the examples
18.2 Tutorial 1: A default image
18.3 Tutorial 2: A web browser utility
18.4 Tutorial 3: A personalized image
18.4.1 First revision
18.4.2 Second revision
18.5 A VNC Kiosk Client
18.6 A base image for a 128MB USB key
18.7 A localized GNOME desktop and installer

Appendix

18.8 Guidelines for authors
18.8.1 Linguistic features
18.8.2 Procedures
18.9 Guidelines for translators
18.9.1 Translation hints

Debian Live Manual

About

1. About this manual

This manual serves as a single access point to all documentation related to the Debian Live project and in particular applies to the software produced by the project for the Debian 7.0 "wheezy" release. An up-to-date version can always be found at ‹http://live.debian.net/

While live-manual is primarily focused on helping you build a live system and not on end-user topics, an end-user may find some useful information in these sections: The Basics covers downloading prebuilt images and preparing images to be booted from media or the network, either using the web builder or running live-build directly on your system. Customizing run time behaviours describes some options that may be specified at the boot prompt, such as selecting a keyboard layout and locale, and using persistence.

Some of the commands mentioned in the text must be executed with superuser privileges which can be obtained by becoming the root user via su or by using sudo. To distinguish between commands which may be executed by an unprivileged user and those requiring superuser privileges, commands are prepended by $ or # respectively. This symbol is not a part of the command.

1.1 For the impatient

While we believe that everything in this manual is important to at least some of our users, we realize it is a lot of material to cover and that you may wish to experience early success using the software before delving into the details. Therefore, we suggest reading in the following order.

First, read this chapter, About this manual, from the beginning and ending with the Terms section. Next, skip to the three tutorials at the front of the Examples section designed to teach you image building and customization basics. Read Using the examples first, followed by Tutorial 1: A default image, Tutorial 2: A web browser utility and finally Tutorial 3: A personalized image. By the end of these tutorials, you will have a taste of what can be done with Debian Live.

We encourage you to return to more in-depth study of the manual, perhaps next reading The basics, skimming or skipping Building a netboot image, and finishing by reading the Customization overview and the chapters that follow it. By this point, we hope you are thoroughly excited by what can be done with Debian Live and motivated to read the rest of the manual, cover-to-cover.

1.2 Terms

  • Live system: An operating system that can boot without installation to a hard drive. Live systems do not alter local operating system(s) or file(s) already installed on the computer hard drive unless instructed to do so. Live systems are typically booted from media such as CDs, DVDs or USB sticks. Some may also boot over the network.
  • Live medium: As distinct from live system, the live medium refers to the CD, DVD or USB stick where the binary produced by live-build and used to boot the live system is written. More broadly, the term also refers to any place where this binary resides for the purposes of booting the live system, such as the location for the network boot files.
  • Debian Live: The Debian sub-project which maintains, among others, the live-boot, live-build, live-config, live-tools and live-manual packages.
  • Debian Live system: A live system that uses software from the Debian operating system that may be booted from CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, over the network (via netboot images), and over the Internet (via boot parameter fetch=URL).
  • Host system: The environment used to create the live system.
  • Target system: The environment used to run the live system.
  • live-boot: A collection of scripts used to boot live systems.
  • live-build: A collection of scripts used to build customized Debian Live systems.
  • live-config: A collection of scripts used to configure a live system during the boot process.
  • live-tools: A collection of additional scripts used to perform useful tasks within a running live system.
  • live-manual: This document is maintained in a package called live-manual.
  • Debian Installer (d-i): The official installation system for the Debian distribution.
  • Boot parameters: Parameters that can be entered at the bootloader prompt to influence the kernel or live-config.
  • chroot: The chroot program, chroot(8), enables us to run different instances of the GNU/Linux environment on a single system simultaneously without rebooting.
  • Binary image: A file containing the live system, such as binary.iso or binary.img.
  • Target distribution: The distribution upon which your live system will be based. This can differ from the distribution of your host system.
  • stable/testing/unstable: The stable distribution contains the latest officially released distribution of Debian. The testing distribution is the staging area for the next stable release. A major advantage of using this distribution is that it has more recent versions of software relative to the stable release. The unstable distribution is where active development of Debian occurs. Generally, this distribution is run by developers and those who like to live on the edge. Throughout the manual, we tend to use codenames for the releases, such as wheezy or sid, as that is what is supported by the tools themselves.
  • 1.3 Authors

    A list of authors (in alphabetical order):

  • Ben Armstrong
  • Brendan Sleight
  • Carlos Zuferri
  • Chris Lamb
  • Daniel Baumann
  • Franklin Piat
  • Jonas Stein
  • Kai Hendry
  • Marco Amadori
  • Mathieu Geli
  • Matthias Kirschner
  • Richard Nelson
  • Trent W. Buck
  • 1.4 Contributing to this document

    This manual is intended as a community project and all proposals for improvements and contributions are extremely welcome. Please see the section Contributing to the project for detailed information on how to fetch the commit key and make good commits.

    1.4.1 Applying changes

    In order to make changes to the English manual you have to edit the right files in manual/en/ but prior to the submission of your contribution, please preview your work. To preview the live-manual, ensure the packages needed for building it are installed by executing:

    # apt-get install make po4a ruby ruby-nokogiri sisu-complete texlive-generic-recommended

    You may build the live-manual from the top level directory of your Git checkout by executing:

    $ make build

    Since it takes a while to build the manual in all supported languages, you may find it convenient when proofing to build for only one language, e.g. by executing:

    $ make build LANGUAGES=en

    It is also possible to build by document type, e.g:

    $ make build FORMATS=pdf

    Or combine both, e.g:

    $ make build LANGUAGES=de FORMATS=html

    After revising your work and making sure that everything is fine, do not use make commit unless you are updating translations in the commit, and in that case, do not mix changes to the English manual and translations in the same commit, but use separate commits for each. See the Translation section for more details.

    1.4.2 Translation

    To start a translation for a new language, follow these steps:

  • Translate the about_manual.ssi.pot, about_project.ssi.pot and index.html.in.pot files to your language with your favourite editor (such as poedit) . Send the translated .po files to the mailing list so that the translation team can check their integrity.
  • To enable a new language in the autobuild it is enough to add the initial translated files to manual/po/${LANGUAGE}/ and run make commit. And then edit manual/_sisu/home/index.html.
  • Once the new language is added, you can randomly continue translating the remaining po files in manual/po/.
  • Don't forget that you need make commit to ensure the translated manuals are updated from the po files and then you can review your changes launching make build before git add ., git commit -m "Translating..." and git push.
  • After running make commit you will see some text scroll by. These are basically informative messages about the processing status and also some hints about what can be done in order to improve live-manual. Unless you see a fatal error, you usually can proceed and submit your contribution.

    live-manual comes with two utilities that can greatly help translators to find untranslated and changed strings. The first one is "make translate". It launches an script that tells you in detail how many untranslated strings there are in each po file. The second one, the "make fixfuzzy" target, only acts upon changed strings but it helps you to find and fix them one by one.

    Keep in mind that even though these utilities might be really helpful to do translation work on the command line, the use of an specialized tool like poedit is the recommended way to do the task. It is also a good idea to read the Debian localization (l10n) documentation and, specifically to live-manual, the Guidelines for translators.

    Note: You can use make clean to clean your git tree before pushing. This step is not compulsory thanks to the .gitignore file but it is a good practice to avoid committing files involuntarily.