Have you ever tried to automatically installed your Linux distribution ? Of course, if you’re a long time sysadmin, and Red Hat user, you use kickstart, or FAI if you happen to be a Debian fan.
But if you’re a Mandriva user, like myself, you also have a great tool to achieve the same goal: auto_inst.
What ? You were not aware ! Well, not so surprising seeing the lack of documentation around that tool, since nearly the begining. Mandriva has been lucky enough to have a contributor, David Eastcott, who published and updated for a couple of years a good auto_inst guide. It has been my bible, when I first looked at it, and found it very detailed and useful, even if I never understood why Mandriva didn’t make more noise about it (they have it as a package
drakx-autoinstall-doc included in the official documentation).
But the problem is that this documentation is 6 years old now ! And even if most of it is still accurate, some other parts are now lagging behind. So trying to find a newer version, I went naturally to Mandriva’s wiki, and looked for the up to date version of it. I just found that another contributor, Roudoud0u, hosted a wiki version a bit updated on his own page. So I updated it with some of the findings I made on fs_type field for partitions, but what would be really needed, is that Mandriva takes back ownership of this documentation and host it in a decent place on its wiki, and have the writer of the tool review it and update it. It’s mostly accurate, but it wouldn’t take a lot of time for those involved in the tool to polish it with the latest goodies provided. For me, it would mean reading most of drakx code, understand it, and then being at the end able to review. Way too much for my availability 😦
The tool is extremely useful, and well done, as with a perl script declaring the $o hash, you can enhance your installation process in multiple ways. Including adding code such as with the oem patch support to do what ever fancy stuff you want with it, including fixing installer bugs 😉
For the moment, I still have a problem with the automatic installation of my 2010.0, where the installer gives back the hand to me saying “Oops, no root partition at /usr/lib/libDrakX/fs/any.pm line 68. Even looking at the code, it didn’t give me a clue, as I indeed have a ‘/’ partition in my partition list, and previously the same auto_inst file was just working correclty.
Another small issue is that the installer becomes again interactive to warn me that it will install xdm, even if I tried with multiple way to instruct it it was a server without X needed 😦
So please Mr Mandriva (or Mrs Mandriva maybe ;-), a small effort to bring that tool more in the light, as it first deserve it, and is mandatory in any distribution targetting the enterprise.
I’ve posted here an example of my auto_inst file for others to look at and share.