Alternative methods for inserting preseed files

Colin Watson cjwatson at
Mon Nov 12 16:53:29 GMT 2007

On Fri, Nov 09, 2007 at 12:45:43PM -0800, Joshua Kwan wrote:
> I'm an intern at VMware currently working on a feature that will allow
> users to automatically install Ubuntu from CDs they have. It's kind of
> an odd feature because it specifically targets people who don't have
> ISOs lying around and just wish to install Linux from a CD that they
> have. It is the analogue of a feature in VMware Fusion that can
> automatically install Windows given a CD key, a user name and a
> password.


> We want to minimize the amount of time it takes to get the installation
> process started, so copying the contents of the CD to a local disk and
> remastering it with the proper ISOLINUX arguments and preseed files is
> undesirable, though if it's the only option to get this working with
> Gutsy it can be done.
> Currently, I'm using a hack that involves copying the kernel and the
> ramdisk from the source CD, along with its ISOLINUX configuration and a
> customized preseed file with a desired username and password. After
> modifying the ISOLINUX configuration to include the appropriate
> arguments for using the preseed file on the CD, we load it up into a
> virtual CD-ROM drive next to the pristine Ubuntu CD. The system is
> booted from our CD, but the ramdisk finds the Ubuntu CD and continues
> the boot procedure from that.

OK. Since you're copying the ramdisk out anyway, have you considered
remastering just the ramdisk? If you insert a /preseed.cfg file there,
that should be loaded right at the start of the installation.

The ramdisk is built using 'find . | cpio --quiet -o -H newc | gzip -9'.
Remastering it won't be instant or anything, but it should be a lot
quicker than remastering the whole CD.


Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson at]

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