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auto-built debirf images
Posted by dkg on Tue 29 Mar 2011 at 08:00
jrollins and i recently did a bunch of cleanup work on debirf, with the result that debirf 0.30 can now build all the shipped example profiles without error (well, as long as debootstrap --variant=fakechroot is working properly -- apprently that's not the case for fakechroot 2.9 in squeeze right now, which is why i've uploaded a backport of 2.14).

To try to avoid getting into a broken state again, we set up an autobuilder to create the images from the three example profiles (minimal, rescue, and xkiosk) for amd64 systems. The logs for these builds are published (with changes) nightly at:

But even better, we are also publishing the auto-generated debirf images themselves. So, for example, if you've got an amd64-capable machine with a decent amount of RAM (512MiB is easily enough), you can download a rescue kernel and image into /boot/debirf/, add a stanza to your bootloader, and be able to reboot to it cleanly, without having to sort out the debirf image creation process yourself.

We're also providing ISOs so people who still use optical media don't have to format their own.

Please be sure to verify the checksums of the files you download. The checksums themselves are signed by the OpenPGP key for Debirf Autobuilder <>, which i've certified and published to the keyserver network.

What's next? It would be nice to have auto-built images for i386 and other architectures. And if someone has a good idea for a new example profile that we should also be auto-building, please submit a bug to the BTS so we can try to sort it out.


Comments on this Entry

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by Anonymous (122.104.xx.xx) on Tue 29 Mar 2011 at 10:14
How about adding them to the Debian CD images site?

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by Anonymous (195.93.xx.xx) on Tue 29 Mar 2011 at 10:36
I tried looking into debirf without installing it today.
The website for debirf contains very little information material. This is unfortunate IMHO, especially considering the next problem, since no documentation on how it actually works is immediately reachable.
The website is TRAC based and (obviously) refers to the old SVN based source directory which now just contains a notice for Debirf that it is now in git at one of two places (is any of those "authoritative"?). Unfortunately neither of them allows online browsing of the sources (which do include some documentation).
Why I'm interested in debirf? I would like to build some rather lightweight network installer (FAI is far too big for my taste, plus it interferes with existing DHCP/tftp/DNS setups in a way I don't want to tolerate and it uses cfengine which I know but don't like) that just installs a minimal system, configures the right system name and some basic networking and then runs puppet to do the rest.

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by dkg (2001:0xx:0xx:0xxx:0xxx:0xxx:xx) on Tue 29 Mar 2011 at 18:20
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The info is all immediately reachable. You just have to clone a git repo and read the contents. The repositories are quite small. Both of the listed git repositories are "authoritative" in the sense that neither of the two main authors will be publishing conflicting tags. pick one and go with it.

If you'd like to set up a web-based source browser of a cloned repo, we'd be happy to point to it. If you do that, you can let me know here, or by mailing one of the e-mail addresses found in the recent sources, or via IRC on #debirf on

As for using debirf as an installer platform: i've done it, but i think d-i itself is a better bet if the only thing you want is an installer. bundling d-i with a preseed file and serving it via TFTP is relatively straightforward.

But do play around with debirf -- sometimes you don't need a disk-based install at all, and are fine with an ephemeral approach.

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by Anonymous (195.93.xx.xx) on Tue 5 Apr 2011 at 08:55
Well "readily available" and "just have to clone a git repo" are somewhat incompatible for me. I don't have git installed on my desktop, plus I quite strongly dislike git anyhow. Also, cloning a git repo is requiring far more disk space than the info I would actually like to read. Having documentation online (i.e. easily avilable via a webbrowser) is always a good thing to get people to investigate some software more closely.


[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by dkg (2001:0xx:0xx:0xxx:0xxx:0xxx:xx) on Tue 5 Apr 2011 at 15:34
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Hi Sven-- I'm sorry that we haven't made it convenient to view the source from a web browser; we've been focused on fixing bugs and on providing the new autobuilt images, and haven't had the time to sort through where/how to securely provide a gitweb interface. Again, if anyone wants to provide such a web-based interface, we'd be happy to point toward it.

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by spyderdyne (173.38.xx.xx) on Mon 26 Oct 2015 at 16:29
Atlas Image for Vagrant:

I am working on creating the atlas image of debirf rescue for use in cloud benchmarking and scale testing. This appears to be a much better option than trying to get any meaningful work out of Cirros images since it is designed to just be an instance placeholder and not actually run things. I am having trouble getting SSH to work in Packer.

Having never used debirf, packer, or any of this before I would greatly appreciate any pointers like user names, default logins, how to set up networking, etc. from a live build/deploy of the ISO image. I am shooting in the dark for now.

Great project!

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by dkg (38.109.xx.xx) on Mon 26 Oct 2015 at 17:31
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the debirf rescue image is a debian system designed for system recovery. It expects root access, and normally you'd log in from the console as root.

You set up networking in the standard debian way (see /etc/network/interfaces), or if DHCP is desired using ifup eth0=dhcp, or use any basic Linux network setup commands (e.g. by invoking /bin/ip with your desired arguments or by modifying /etc/resolv.conf directly).

note that debirf is designed to be ephemeral -- any changes you make won't persist across reboots.

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by spyderdyne (71.199.xx.xx) on Mon 26 Oct 2015 at 23:06
I am attempting to use this (obviously) for something it was never intended to do and I am fully aware of it. I stumbled across this while searching for an OS image that was really small but still had a functioning package manager to install siege, phoronix-test-suite, and apache on for scale testing.

Here is the plan:

1. Create an Atlas box image that anyone can download of this tiny machine (less than 500MB memory resident) with the ability to utilize cloud ephemeral volume storage for 3rd party software

2. Use Vagrant to pull this base OS image and add the required software/configure the test suites

3. Convert to QCOW2 compressed and push to Openstack clouds.

4. Spawn 250,000 of these clients who call home to the master machine that we set in the configs for ad-hoc command executions, to upload reports and results, and for general orchestration.

Having spawned a few instances from the ISO the package manager is a little problematic and often hangs up or errors out. This is obviously due to running out of memory, which is configurable, but I definitely need persistence or uploading the image to a cloud environment indeed would provide very light instances, but I would not be able to do anything with them.

I may just jump ship and create a very small ubuntu image instead, but I would have liked to get this OS up on atlas either way. As I find the time I will try to circle back to this and see how hard it would be to use what you already have and create a cloud scaler image that better meets my needs.

I love this project. Very cool.

[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by spyderdyne (173.38.xx.xx) on Mon 26 Oct 2015 at 17:32
Looks like default uname = root, no passwd

This script seems to fix the dhcp issue and instlal open-ssh server fine now:

The template file simply refuses to honor headless = false no matter what syntax, but I think this works:


[ Parent ]

Re: auto-built debirf images
Posted by spyderdyne (173.38.xx.xx) on Mon 26 Oct 2015 at 17:49
It doesnt work. Keeps failing. Due to the headless mode issue I am unable to see what it is actually failing on, so I have no way to troubleshoot it.

Will keep plugging away. I must be doing something wrong.

[ Parent ]