Debian Installer : Stretch

Debian Installer: Stretch released

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Since the previous post, several Debian Installer release candidates were published, and this post sums up everything that happened between the Debian Installer Stretch RC 2 release and the final Stretch release.

Stretch RC 3

Cyril published the Debian Installer Stretch RC 3 release on 2017-04-10, roughly two months after Stretch RC 2.


A number of fixes piled up since then, including the following important changes:

  • Various components (like anna and libdebian-installer) were switched to verifying SHA256 checksums (#856211, #856210). It should have happened a while ago, but better late than never!
  • base-installer now logs all debootstrap arguments, which allows for easier debugging. This was introduced while looking into an issue with missing ca-certificates and apt-transport-https packages when performing an installation over HTTPS: depending on the type of installation image being used, the previous code wasn't detecting the need for these extra packages (#855035).
  • Proper support for Korean was restored by switching the fonts-android udeb from one font file to another one, which contains the glyphs the Debian Installer was missing (#853921). See screenshots below.
  • It was already possible to skip erasing a disc when using partman-auto-crypto, by selecting Cancel when this operation is in progress. It's now possible to use preseeding to automate skipping this step (#476388).
  • An update of the mirror list in choose-mirror triggered a failure to build, due to accented characters: new mirror for RE/Réunion (#857545). This was easily fixed by marking the relevant file as being encoded in UTF-8.

Other changes can be found in the release annoucement.

Here are a few screenshots (click for full view) illustrating the Korean rendering issues follow, so that one can visualize the impact of a font issue:

Stretch D-I RC 2 (broken) Stretch D-I RC 3 (fixed)
Broken Korean rendering in language selection screen Fixed Korean rendering in language selection screen
Entirely broken Korean screen Fixed Korean screen

Hardware support

The full list of hardware-related changes is reproduced below:

  • debian-installer:
    • Add support for ports which aren't scheduled to be released by looking at an extra unreleased suite where patched or port-specific components are made available, and use unstable instead of testing as a base suite. This fixes the long standing FTBFS on non-released ports (#852215). Please note that other changes related to non-released ports are usually not covered in release announcements.
    • Add fb-modules to some loongson-3 configurations (#854553).
    • powerpc: Add virtio modules to cdrom/netboot images (#767487).
  • flash-kernel:
    • Add machine db entry for TI OMAP4 PandaBoard-ES (#857205).
    • Add machine db entry for NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo v2 (#855960).
    • Add machine db entry for Hardkernel ODROID-C2 (#845818).
  • grub-installer:
    • Fix grub-xen installation in Xen environments (#854082).
    • Use 'p' (not '-part') as multipath disk-partition separator. This fixes the check of whether the boot file system is on multipath.
    • Better handling of PReP partitions on ppc64el: prefer PReP partition on the same disk as the boot file system partition.
  • hw-detect:
    • disk-detect: stop trying to load dm-emc (#852285).
    • disk-detect: match 'mpath[a-z]+' instead of 'mpath[0-9]+' since multipath-tools changed behaviour regarding mpath device names (#806713, #854565).
    • disk-detect: run update-dev before probing for devices (#843895).
  • libdebian-installer:
    • Add support for NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo v2 (#855965).
  • linux:
    • udeb: Add more USB host and dual-role drivers to usb-modules (#856111).
    • udeb/arm64: Add ast to fb-modules (#820168).
    • udeb: Add bcache to md-modules (#718548).
  • partman-base:
    • Update support for more recent output of 'multipath -l'.
    • Accept spaces in multipath WWID.
  • partman-partitioning:
    • Fix resizing an NVMe device (#820818).
  • systemd:
    • udev: Fix by-id symlinks for devices whose IDs contain whitespace (#851164).
    • udev: Fix /dev/disk/by-path aliases for virtio disks (#856558).
    • udev/s390x: Create persistent net names for virtio CCW devices (#856559).
  • u-boot:
    • armel: Support for openrd targets has been fixed and enabled again (#856441). Please note that this needs to be enabled again in debian-installer as well.

Stretch RC 4

With the amount of changes in Stretch RC 3, and the Stretch release date approaching (2017-06-17), it was expected to have a smaller number of changes in the Stretch RC 4 release. Thankfully, that’s what happened by the end of May (2017-05-27), with most changes being translations updates: the number of full translations saw a bump from 15 to 21.


  • apt-setup: For consistency with other components, the example sources.list entries for stretch-updates and stretch-backports now use instead of (#860472).
  • debian-installer: The rework of speech-enabled menu entries in the previous release led to a few regressions, which are fixed in this release.
  • linux: The Linux kernel is now advertising a 4.9.0-3 ABI number. As usual, this “version number” denotes binary compatibility for external modules (it's bumped whenever compatibility cannot be retained), and is reflected into binary package names, e.g. linux-image-4.9.0-3-amd64. This should be the last such bump for Stretch.
  • netcfg: With IPv6 autoconfiguration, NTP server name handling was buggy and would pollute the memory slot for the DHCP-provided hostname. The erroneous copy/paste/edit is now fixed (#862745).
  • os-prober: As mentioned in the Stretch RC 2 report, this component was heavily rework to try and limit filesystem-level corruptions. Unfortunately, the device mapper code isn't working properly in a Debian Installer context, so it's getting removed entirely, and grub-mount is now always relied on (#860833, #853927, #853163).

Hardware support

  • armel/orion5x: DTB is now used for Buffalo Linkstation LiveV3 (LS-CHL).
  • After a few releases without them, u-boot images for OpenRD are now enabled again.
  • Support for Xunlong Orange Pi Plus / Plus 2 was added in flash-kernel.
  • On the linux side, all AHCI drivers are now included in sata-modules (#860335); tifm_7xx1 was added to to mmc-modules (#861195); and mfd-core was moved to kernel-image, as both input-modules and mmc-modules need it.

Stretch RC 5

This Debian Installer release happened on 2017-06-13, only a few days before the final Debian release, planned on 2017-06-17. There were still quite a number of changes to merge, and only those with the most visible impact are listed below.


  • debian-cd (despite its name, that's the machinery used to generate all installation images): Since the firefox browser no longer fitted on the Xfce CD, the installation guide was removed from those images to free up some space, so that firefox fits again.
  • debian-installer: One of the scripts used during the build wasn't reporting errors to its caller, allowing for silent errors. (See: #864260).
  • debian-archive-keyring-udeb: Release team members had been rather busy going through unblock requests, and release/ftp-master keys were made available a tad late in the release cycle. [Needless to say, this point has been noted and should be handled sooner in the next release cycle.] With this update, Stretch keys were added (#860830, #860831), and remove Squeeze ones were removed (#863303).
  • netcfg: The rdnssd package is no longer installed automatically for IPv6 setups. Depending on package installation choices, it could prevent network-manager from being installed (#854801).

Hardware support

  • debian-installer: The partition size for armhf SD card images was bumped from 40MB to 100MB (for both hd-media and netboot), since it became too small for some setups. This fixes missing files for the A10-OLinuXino-Lime platform, and allows developers for easier debugging (#864260).
  • grub-installer: Add support for systems with a large number of disks (≥ 27), which can happen in some JBOD setups (#839894).
  • linux: Add efivarfs.ko to the efi-modules udeb, which can be needed to retrieve firmware or configuration bits from within the Debian Installer (#862555).

Stretch final

Usually, one would use the same debian-installer upload for the last release candidate and for the final release, but Cyril asked the linux maintainers to merge a last change before the release: It started to become clear in early June that the missing i2c-modules udeb on the armhf platform was the likely cause for several issues (#864536, #864457, #856111).

Performing uploads, builds, and unblocks of linux, debian-installer, and debian-installer-netboot-images before the final release wasn’t entirely stressless, but it seemed worth trying. Adding new binary packages in point releases is a very rare event, and going through the NEW queue via unstable looked like the right thing to do, even if the timing was very tight!

What’s next?

The next Debian Installer report will likely feature a summary of installer-related changes merged into the 8.9 and 9.1 point releases (for Jessie and Stretch respectively).

Also, Cyril will be giving a talk titled “News from the Debian Installer” during DebConf17. This year, the annual Debian Conference takes place in Montreal, Canada (more info is available on the DebConf17 schedule). See you there?