[Grml] grml-live vs. debian-live (vs. FAI)

Michael Prokop mika at grml.org
Thu May 14 00:26:27 CEST 2009

* Darshaka Pathirana <dpat at syn-net.org> [20090506 11:40]:

> The subject says it all: I was trying to find out a short outline
> why one should use the one or the other.

> As far as I can unsterstand it after a short evaluation is that both
> are able to do nearly the same. Both use debootstrap and are able to
> define hooks and afterwards a ISO is created.

> The advantage of grml-live seems to be the usage of the FAI-class
> concept but debian-live seems to be the more "official" way to do it.

> My motivation is a bit different than *-live and FAI provide. *-live
> are intended to build a Live-CD and FAI deploys a system on a
> running machine (by PXE or Boot-CD).

> I do NOT need a bootable ISO. I need the possibility to install
> Debian into a USB-Device or CF-Card. So I actually use the
> base.tar.gz (created by FAI or by an other installation) to untar it
> onto the target from my running system. Afterwards again some hooks
> are run and the bootloader is installed. I think this is ridiculous!
> There must be a better way.

> Any thoughts about this?

Allright, some thoughts about this. :)

You're right, "debian-live seems to be the more "official" way to do
it" - that's its design goal. :) Whereas debian-live provides
official Debian builds (like "does a plain Debian work on my
system?"), grml-live focuses on user's (maybe very special) needs
(like "i need a system which is specialised for the needs of

Notice that I'm biased as being the developer behind grml-live. ;)
But I personally don't see the projects as competitors but instead
I'm working together with upstream of debian-live on the underlying
technologies so we share development wherever possible.

I personally *love* the class concept of FAI. It gives me a big and
fast gun in combination with a swiss army knife so I can shoot on
every problem that might arise. :)

Regarding your needs: "I need the possibility to install Debian into
a USB-Device or CF-Card". Looking at the existing grml-technologies
there are different approaches available:

* grml2usb: install a grml ISO on a given device
* grml2hd: install a running grml system (nearly) 1:1 on a device
* grml-debootstrap: install *plain* Debian on a device

Depending on your exact use case the approach of grml2usb/grml2hd
might fit as well, though I think that either grml-debootstrap or
your FAI/base.tar.gz solution fit better.

In a customer project I'm for example using grml-debootstrap for
deploying Debian systems automatically, providing offline
installation (no network access available), DRBD deployment, setup
of SW-RAID, documentation of the hardware,...

But I guess you don't need all the fancy stuff overall, so if
FAI/dirinstall works fine, you chose the right way already. And if
you're not happy you can still consider switching to a different
approach. ;)

Hope this helps.

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