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

User

9. Customizing contents

This chapter discusses fine-tuning customization of the live system contents beyond merely choosing which packages to include. Includes allow you to add or replace arbitrary files in your Debian Live image, hooks allow you to execute arbitrary commands at different stages of the build and at boot time, and preseeding allows you to configure packages when they are installed by supplying answers to debconf questions.

9.1 Includes

While ideally a Debian live system would include files entirely provided by unmodified Debian packages, it is sometimes convenient to provide or modify some content by means of files. Using includes, it is possible to add (or replace) arbitrary files in your Debian Live image. live-build provides two mechanisms for using them:

  • Chroot local includes: These allow you to add or replace files to the chroot/Live filesystem. Please see Live/chroot local includes for more information.
  • Binary local includes: These allow you to add or replace files in the binary image. Please see Binary local includes for more information.
  • Please see Terms for more information about the distinction between the "Live" and "binary" images.

    9.1.1 Live/chroot local includes

    Chroot local includes can be used to add or replace files in the chroot/Live filesystem so that they may be used in the Live system. A typical use is to populate the skeleton user directory (/etc/skel) used by the Live system to create the live user's home directory. Another is to supply configuration files that can be simply added or replaced in the image without processing; see Live/chroot local hooks if processing is needed.

    To include files, simply add them to your config/includes.chroot directory. This directory corresponds to the root directory / of the live system. For example, to add a file /var/www/index.html in the live system, use:

    $ mkdir -p config/includes.chroot/var/www
    $ cp /path/to/my/index.html config/includes.chroot/var/www

    Your configuration will then have the following layout:

    -- config
        [...]
         |-- includes.chroot
         |   `-- var
         |       `-- www
         |           `-- index.html
        [...]

    Chroot local includes are installed after package installation so that files installed by packages are overwritten.

    9.1.2 Binary local includes

    To include material such as documentation or videos on the medium filesystem so that it is accessible immediately upon insertion of the medium without booting the Live system, you can use binary local includes. This works in a similar fashion to chroot local includes. For example, suppose the files ~/video_demo.* are demo videos of the live system described by and linked to by an HTML index page. Simply copy the material to config/includes.binary/ as follows:

    $ cp ~/video_demo.* config/includes.binary/

    These files will now appear in the root directory of the live medium.

    9.2 Hooks

    Hooks allow commands to be performed in the chroot and binary stages of the build in order to customize the image.

    9.2.1 Live/chroot local hooks

    To run commands in the chroot stage, create a hook script with a .chroot suffix containing the commands in the config/hooks/ directory. The hook will run in the chroot after the rest of your chroot configuration has been applied, so remember to ensure your configuration includes all packages and files your hook needs in order to run. See the example chroot hook scripts for various common chroot customization tasks provided in /usr/share/doc/live-build/examples/hooks which you can copy or symlink to use them in your own configuration.

    9.2.2 Boot-time hooks

    To execute commands at boot time, you can supply live-config hooks as explained in the "Customization" section of its man page. Examine live-config' s own hooks provided in /lib/live/config/, noting the sequence numbers. Then provide your own hook prefixed with an appropriate sequence number, either as a chroot local include in config/includes.chroot/lib/live/config/, or as a custom package as discussed in Installing modified or third-party packages.

    9.2.3 Binary local hooks

    To run commands in the binary stage, create a hook script with a .binary suffix containing the commands in the config/hooks/ directory. The hook will run after all other binary commands are run, but before binary_checksums, the very last binary command. The commands in your hook do not run in the chroot, so take care to not modify any files outside of the build tree, or you may damage your build system! See the example binary hook scripts for various common binary customization tasks provided in /usr/share/doc/live-build/examples/hooks which you can copy or symlink to use them in your own configuration.

    9.3 Preseeding Debconf questions

    Files in the config/preseed/ directory suffixed with .cfg followed by the stage (.chroot or .binary) are considered to be debconf preseed files and are installed by live-build using debconf-set-selections during the corresponding stage.

    For more information about debconf, please see debconf(7) in the debconf package.