The new version FAI 5.8.1 now generates the configuration file for Ubuntu's netplan tool. It's a YAML description for setting up the network devices, replacing the /etc/network/interfaces file. The FAI CD/USB installation image for Ubuntu now offers two different variants to be installed, Ubuntu desktop and Ubuntu server without a desktop environment. Both are using Ubuntu 18.04 aka Bionic Beaver.

FAI 5.8.1 also improves UEFI support for network installations. UEFI boot is still missing for the ISO images.

The FAI ISO images are available from [1]. The FAIme build service [2] for customized cloud and installation images also uses the newest FAI version.



FAI Ubuntu

Posted Mon 18 Feb 2019 02:34:00 PM CET Tags:

Before preparing a new FAI release, I had to debug a nasty boot problem in FAI. Booting a FAI CD on a notebooks only hang when no ethernet cable was connected. This was strange, because the automatic installation does not need a network connection and gets all packages from the installation media.

Since FAI is using dracut (a replacement for initramfs-tools) and we use the kernel cmdline option rd.neednet, dracut only boots if it can set up at least one ethernet device. Without using this option, dracut does not activate the network at all and FAI cannot configure the /etc/network/interface. There's no option to tell dracut just to try to activate network device, but do not rely on being successful. In the end the fix was to edit a dracut script, so dracut does not wait forever for devices to come up. It was just a simple sed -e 's/exit 1/exit 0/'. Nice.

After this fix the new FAI release 5.7.4 was uploaded. Support for installing notebooks is now improved.


  • network-manager-gnome is now installed for class XFCE

  • the network device config is now correct if NetworkManager is installed

  • Booting does not hangs any more when installing a notebook without the ethernet being connected

New FAI ISO images are available from [1]. Then can install Debian 9 using XFCE or GNOME or just a server installation without any desktop. We also have a Ubuntu version of the ISO, and CentOS can be installed.

The FAIme build service [2] for customized cloud and installation images also uses the newest FAI version.



FAI dracut

Posted Wed 30 Jan 2019 03:53:15 PM CET Tags:

The new FAI release 5.7 is now available. Packages are uploaded to unstable and are available from the repository. I've also created new FAI ISO images and the special Ubuntu only installation FAI CD is now installing Ubuntu 18.04 aka Bionic. The build service is also using the new FAI release.

In summary, the process for this release went very smooth and I am happy that the update of the ISO images and service happend very shortly after the new release.

Posted Wed 06 Jun 2018 08:33:35 AM CEST

Last week I attended the MiniDebConfHamburg. I worked on new releases of dracut and rinse. Dracut is an initramfs-tools replacement which now supports early microcode loading. Rinse is a tool similar to debootstrap for rpm distributions, which now can create Fedora 28 environments aka chroots.

On Sunday I gave a lightning talk video about how to try out dracut on your computer without removing initramfs-tools. In Debian, we still did not switched the default to dracut, and I like to see more feedback if dracut works in your environment. Later I did a presentation on the build service (video, slides). Many thanks to Juri, who implemented a switch on the web page for changing between a basic and an advanced mode for the installation images. I've also worked on installing Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic) using FAI, which was quite simple, because changing the release name from xenial to bionic was most of the work. Yesterday I've added some language support for Ubuntu into FAI, so I hope to release the next version soon.

MiniDebConfHamburg was very nice, a nice location so I hope there will be more MiniDebConfs in Hamburg in the future.

Posted Fri 25 May 2018 10:49:01 AM CEST

A few days ago, I've added a new feature to the build service.

Additionally to creating an installation image, can now build bootable disk images. These disk images can be booted in a VM like KVM, Virtualbox or VMware or openstack.

You can define a disk image size, select a language, set a user and root password, select a Debian distribution and enable backports just by one click. It's possible to add your public key for access to the root account without a password. This can also be done by just specifying your GitHub account. Several disk formats are supports, like raw (compressed with xz or zstd), qcow2, vdi, vhdx and vmdk. And you can add your own list of packages, you want to have inside this OS. After a few minutes the disk image is created and you will get a download link, including a log the the creation process and a link to the FAI configuration that was used to create your customized image.

The new service is available at

If you have any comments, feature requests or feedback, do not hesitate to contact me.

Posted Tue 13 Mar 2018 05:27:24 PM CET Tags:

The build service now supports packages from the backports repository. When selecting the stable distribution, you can also enable backports packages. The customized installation image will then uses the kernel from backports (currently 4.14) and you can add additional packages by appending /stretch-backports to the package name, e.g. notmuch/stretch-backports.

Currently, the FAIme service offers images build with Debian stable, stable with backports and Debian testing.

If you have any ideas for extensions or any feedback, send an email to =at=

Posted Mon 22 Jan 2018 02:00:16 PM CET Tags:

Only one week ago, I've announced the build service for creating your own installation images. I've got some feedback and people like to have root login without a password but using a ssh key. This feature is now available. You can upload you public ssh key which will be installed as authorized_keys for the root account.

You can now also download the configuration space that is used on the installation image and you can get the whole log file from the fai-mirror call. This command creates the partial package mirror. The log file helps you debugging if you add some packages which have conflicts on other packages, or if you misspelt a package name.

Posted Mon 04 Dec 2017 09:59:14 PM CET Tags:

I just returned from the MiniDebConf in Cambridge, where I gave two talks. One about building disk images (also for cross architecures) using fai-diskimage with FAI and the other about making d-i easier for beginners. The ideas for this talk were also the inspiration for creating the web page. Making the usage of FAI easier, using it without installing it. Is this FAI as a service (FaaS)?

On the web page you can easily configure a customized installation image which will then be created for you. Booting this image, you will get a fully unattended installation, based on FAI technique and all software packages are already included on the installation image. The announcement has more details. I'm very excited to get your feedback for this project.


Posted Tue 28 Nov 2017 08:59:07 AM CET Tags:

Since DebConf 17 I was working on cross-architecture support for FAI. The new FAI release supports creating cross-architecture disk images, for e.g. you can build an image for Arm64 (aarch64) on a host running 64-bit x86 Linux (amd64) in about 6 minutes.

The release announcement has more details, and I also created a video showing the build process for an Arm64 disk image and booting this image using Qemu.

I'm happy to join the Debian cloud sprint in a week, where more FAI related work is waiting.

FAI embedded ARM

Posted Sun 08 Oct 2017 03:05:34 PM CEST Tags:

During DebConf 17 in Montréal I had a FAI demo session (video), where I showed how to create a customized installation CD and how to create a diskimage using the same configuration. This diskimage is ready for use with a VM software or can be booted inside a cloud environment.

During the last weeks I was working on FAI 5.4 which will be released in a few weeks. I you want to test it use

deb beta-testing koeln

in your sources.list file.

The most important new feature will be the cross architecture support. I managed to create an ARM64 diskimage on a x86 host and boot this inside Qemu. Currently I learn how to flash images onto my new Hikey960 board for booting my own Debian images on real hardware. The embedded world is still new for me and very different in respect to the boot process.

At DebConf, I also worked on debootstrap. I produced a set of patches which can speedup debootstrap by a factor of 2. See #871835 for details.

FAI debootstrap ARM

Posted Thu 07 Sep 2017 05:03:30 PM CEST Tags:

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