How to create Debian unstable iso images

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PA-RISC is not any longer an official Debian distribution and as such, Debian ISO install images are not produced any longer by the Debian developers.

This website describes the basic steps how you can create such images yourself. The instructions should - with minor modifcations - work for other architectures like alpha or sparc too.


What you need to know

Prebuilt debian unstable packages are available at the repository at
In most cases it's not possible to install from the debian ports repository, because
  1. it is a moving target, which means that the Linux kernel udeb packages which are needed by the kernel on the ISO/liffile may not be available any longer at a later date, and
  2. the bootloader (e.g. palo for parisc, aboot for alpha, silo for sparc) is not available there (because those architectures are not any longer release architectures, so the bootloaders are not being built any long), and
  3. the partitioning tools during installation for the architecture might be missing for the same reason (e.g. partman-palo for parisc).

Basic steps

  1. Create a local copy of the debian-ports repository
  2. Build the debian-installer packages
  3. Add missing boot loader / partitioning tools packages to the repository
  4. Build the final iso image

Create a local copy of the debian-ports repository

  1. Install reprepro (apt-get install reprepro)
  2. Create a directory which will hold the copied packages (around 60 GB storage needed!)
 apt-get install reprepro
 mkdir -p /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 cd /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 # now modify the files in conf/* to your needs
 # now run "reprepro update" to pull all files from debian-ports
 reprepro update

Build the debian-installer packages

  1. Read how to check out the debian installer. It's done below.
 apt-get install mr myrepos git curl fakeroot
 apt-get build-dep debian-installer
 mkdir -p /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/{TEMP,bootstrap}
 # See:
 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/
 git clone debian-installer
 cd debian-installer
 mr checkout 

 # check out other packes for your architecture into the packages directory
 # for a list see here:;pf=d-i
 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-installer/packages
 # in the past: for alpha:
 # git clone
 # git clone
 # for parisc:
 # git clone
 # git clone
 # for sparc:
 # git clone

 # palo and aboot are now in the unreleased repositories:

 # then build the debian-installer with all packages
 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-installer/installer
 export ONLINE=n

Add boot loader installer and partitioning tools packages to the repository

The architecture-specific packages (palo-installer, silo-installer, ...) were built above. Install them into your local reprepro archive directory

 cd /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 reprepro includeudeb unstable /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-installer/installer/build/apt.udeb/cache/archives/*udeb

Build your platform boot loader

Build the boot loader for your platform (palo, silo, ...) and install the deb package as done above (use includedeb instead of includeudeb).

 cd /extra/deller/debian-alpha-archive/
 reprepro includedeb unstable <path_to_your_bootloader>

Set up debian-cd

debian-cd will build the installer images. Download it, configure it and let it build the image:

 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER
 git clone
 # patch debian-cd
 cd debian-cd
 patch -p1 -s < Debian-cd.patch.txt
 # after patching check changes with "git diff" and modify as needed
 # adjust the kernel options (KERNEL_PARAMS in
 # modify DI_DIR in to point to the cdrom directory (instead of netboot dir)

Build the final iso image

 cd /extra/deller/DEBIAN_INSTALLER/debian-cd

External HOWTOs

Other prebuilt files for parisc:

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