Debian Installer etch beta 3
August 11th, 2006
The Debian Installer team is proud to announce the third beta release of the installer for Debian GNU/Linux Etch.
Major new features introduced with this release
- Option to install using a graphical user interface on i386 and amd64. For powerpc this option is experimental.
- Support for setting up encrypted partitions during installation.
Both these features currently have some limitations. See the sections below for additional information!
Other improvements in the installer
- First release to install the amd64 architecture from official Debian mirrors.
- The installer now has brltty support in regular images for i386, amd64 and powerpc which improves accessibility for visually handicapped people.
- This new version of the installer uses and installs the 2.6.16 kernel.
- In addition to the architectures that already made the switch, 2.6 is now the default kernel for sparc, mips, mipsel and S/390.
- Improved installation from CD-ROM. Installation is again possible without also automatically including a network mirror as source.
- Improved checks during mirror selection to determine if the mirror is valid for the architecture being installed.
- For expert or preseeded installations it is now possible to set up the system with sudo instead of a root password.
- Module parameters can be passed from the boot prompt using the format
Parameters passed this way will be retained for the installed system.
- For some common boot options, a short form can now be
- 'fb=false' for 'debian-installer/framebuffer=false'
- 'priority=medium' for 'debconf/priority=medium'
- Usability improvements in LVM and software RAID setup1).
- Automatic partitioning using LVM can now be preseeded1).
- Architecture specific:
- sparc: automatic detection of sbus devices
- sparc: software RAID support
- Added the following languages: Irish.
- Additional languages supported only in the graphical installer: Bengali, Dzongkha, Georgian, Hindi, Khmer, Nepali, Punjabi (Gurmukhi), Tamil and Thai.
Known issues in this release
- Partition resizing using partman may result in data loss if the
starting sector of the partition is not at the start of a cylinder.
This has been observed in particular for NTFS partitions created during installation of Windows Vista Beta 2. Resizing of NTFS partitions created by earlier Windows versions should still work.
- No support for installation from floppy disk for i386. Work to support installation from floppy using 2.6 kernels is in progress.
- Minimum USB stick capacity for hd-media installs is now 256 MB.
- There are some usability issues for S/390 installs.
- There are still various issues for some powerpc subarchitectures.
See the errata for details and a full list of known issues.
Our thanks to everybody who has contributed to this release. This time in particular to Bastian Blank for his work to switch S/390 to a 2.6 kernel.
Installation CDs, other media, errata and everything else you'll need are available from our web site.
- These changes are documented in the development version of the installation guide.
For i386 and amd64 the graphical installer is available on all CD images
and for hd-media installations. To use it, you need to boot the installer
In addition, special mini.iso images are available which boot the graphical installer by default (look for gtk-miniiso from the links to
For powerpc and powerpc64 the graphical installer is only available as an experimental mini.iso image. Main reason for this is that tests have shown problems on various machines and we feel it is not yet stable enough for general use.
The graphical installer is functionally identical to the regular installer,
with exception of encryption support (see below). One of its real advantages
is that it allows installation in nine new languages that cannot be displayed
in the regular installer.
We are aware that the graphical installer still needs polishing. Part of this is planned immediately after this release: an update to newer libraries will allow better theming.
The graphical user interface runs on VT5. To switch consoles from the graphical
user interface, you need to use ctrl+alt+F2 (for the debug shell), just
like when switching consoles from X. To switch back, use alt-F5.
Note that for amd64 switching consoles is not possible as it will crash the frontend. This is a known bug that we hope to solve before the release of Etch.
The graphical installer uses directfb. For i386 and amd64 this currently needs
a special boot parameter to work: video=vesa:ywrap,mtrr. All images
already have this parameter included in the bootloader configuration, but you
will need to add it yourself if you want to boot the hd-media/gtk image from
your own bootloader.
The installer is designed to work at a resolution of 600x800; for this the boot parameter vga=788 is set by default for graphical installer images.
How to set up encrypted partitions during installation is documented in the installation guide.
As this is the first release to include support for encrypted partitions, you are requested to use this option with caution and make sure the resulting system is set up correctly before trusting any important data to it.
Please take note of the following known issues:
- The graphical installer provides only limited encryption support. In particular, random keys cannot be used for dm-crypt, GnuPG keyfiles and loop-AES. Other parts should be possible but are largely untested for graphical installations.
- When installing with a non-English locale, non-ASCII characters entered as part of a passphrase are not correctly handled. The installed system uses a different keymap and won't be able to recognize those characters.
- The installer does not prevent the setup of unencrypted swap space after encrypted volumes have been configured. This kind of setup should be avoided as it could compromise the encryption by causing encryption keys to be leaked to disk.