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Is there a preferred way to create base images for Debian-based customized installations? We are currently going with multistrap but although it's better than hand-crafted chroot stuff, it still has a lot of edges and corners. Is there a more reliable and less error-prone way to produce a root filesystem of a Debian installation with some additional .debs installed?

(I don't want to send out a Debian installer with a preseed file though.)

Addendum 1: To clarify things a bit: We are delivering some kind of software appliance to our customers. That is, a debian operating system, with some additional software packages -- both our own and third-party ones -- and some configuration changes. To ease the installation process, we have an installer that does nothing more than partitioning, copying files to the partitions and setting up grub. So it's basically an image-based installer. So we are basically running the debian installation ourselves and just distribute the already installed operating system.

The question is about the installation part. I want to have that as easy and robust as possible, and of course, it should be an automated process.

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Sorry, but can you provide some more details and context here? Your question is a bit unclear. A plain reading of is there a way to root file-systems? would be to suggest you use mkfs, but I don't think that is what you are asking. – Zoredache Sep 28 '12 at 18:37
Thanks for the hint. I added a bit of an explanation. – Michael Sep 29 '12 at 15:57

If you're looking for a small image to be used with something like Linux Containers (LXC) or OpenVZ, I typically end up modifying the preexisting OpenVZ templates. It's a quick way to get a chroot image without running an installation.

They're available here -

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I suggest you take a look at FAI - Fully Automatic Installation .

"It's a tool for unattended mass deployment of Linux. You can take one or more virgin PC's, turn on the power, and after a few minutes, the systems are installed, and completely configured to your exact needs, without any interaction necessary."

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Not precisely what I wanted, but the most helpful answer and I have to award the bounty anyway. And FAI might actually be helpful here; I will look into it. – Michael Oct 2 '12 at 16:10

Perhaps you're interested in something a little closer to the Gentoo stage tarballs? These are built using a tool called Catalyst but ultimately result in a tarball that gets extracted onto the root filesystem after all your filesystems are created on disk and mounted in the appropriate places.

The simplest way to create one would be by building a sample system then tar'ing the whole thing up. You could also create a base tarball and then ship additional tarballs for add-on features the customer purchased.

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