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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Things that should exist.

One of my great­est frus­tra­tions as an ad­e­quate pro­gram­mer is that I think of things I be­lieve should ex­ist, yet I am not able to im­ple­ment them my­self.

To­day I will men­tion one (or two) of them.

There should be a Xen-based dis­tro.

Xen is a very good vir­tu­al­iza­tion pack­age, which gives you mul­ti­ple si­mul­ta­ne­ous vir­tu­al lin­ux in­stal­la­tions with very lit­tle over­head.

Sad­ly, to make it work, right now, you have to get a lin­ux work­ing, then in­stall Xen, then in­stall one or more ex­tra lin­ux­es as xen ma­chines.

Which is not ter­ri­bly hard, but could be done much eas­i­er.

I am think­ing of some­thing like this:

In­stalling Xen-Lin­ux in­stalls a very sim­ple ba­sic set­up as the su­per­vi­sor par­ti­tion, sets up Xen prop­er­ly, and sets you with a sin­gle Xen vir­tu­al ma­chine.

Al­so, in an­oth­er part of the disk, it has a gzipped file with a sim­ple, ba­sic lin­ux set­up which you use as a tem­plate for fur­ther vir­tu­al ma­chine ini­tial­iza­tion­s.

So, when­ev­er you want a new ma­chine, you run a scrip­t, it sets it up, starts it, you get some­thing like first­boot ask­ing you the usu­al net­work/lan­guage/what­ev­er ques­tion­s.

Then, you are dropped in­to a nice pack­age se­lec­tion tool, where you choose what you want in­stalled in this vir­tu­al in­stance.

And that's it.

This would en­cour­age the ad­min­is­tra­tor to al­ways set up his servers as vir­tu­al ma­chi­nes, which ex­cept in cas­es of re­al hard­core per­for­mance re­quire­ments is a good idea (y­ou can im­ple­ment HA as ful­l-im­age fall­back. You can mi­grate to a new box in min­utes!)

I could do most of this. How­ev­er, that leads me to an­oth­er thing that should ex­ist...

A sim­ple in­stall­er

Wait, you may say "Lin­ux in­stall­ers are sim­ple al­ready!!!" and youa re right.

I mean a sim­ple in­stall­er for a guy try­ing to make his own dis­tro!

I ac­tu­al­ly like ana­con­da a lot. But I would like it even bet­ter if I could just get some sort of tool that, giv­en a list of pack­ages, would cre­ate an ana­con­da-based CD with cus­tom­iz­a­ble in­stall script­s.

And that is the piece I am not sure I can im­ple­men­t.

So, if any­one knows of any such thing, I would love to hear about it.

And as a pre­emp­tive mes­sage: No, I don't want to do it with Gen­too, or De­bian, or Ubun­tu, or Suse, or kick­start. I want to cre­ate a RP­M-based, Cen­tOS-based, ana­con­da-based in­stall­er that works just like a reg­u­lar Cen­tOS/RHEL in­stall­er CD.

Nick Lassonde / 2006-04-07 16:23:

I've never used it before, but I think that rBuilder is meant to be a simple way to create new distros. Don't know if they're RPM-based or not, but I think you just select a list of packages and it makes an entire distro for you.

Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-07 16:40:

Checked rBuilder: It's recipe-based, so it's not exactly wjat I want (I have lots more experience and knowhow with RPM packages).

But it looks like a very good tool!

Darkstar / 2006-04-07 18:24:

SuSE 10 has the possibility of installing a XEN kernel with SuSE running in the first VM. It works, though I haven't yet tested it extensively.

Guss / 2006-04-10 15:04:

Mandriva had for quite some time (since Mandrake 7 at least, probably before that) a utility called mkcd (it changed named a couple of times) which given a collection of RPMs will build you a Mandriva install CD set out of that. You can edit the scripts (in perl) and everything.