A Guided Tour to Debian Installer Development

Speaker: Alper Nebi Yasak

Track: Packaging, policy, and Debian infrastructure

Type: Long talk (45 minutes)

Room: Ponmudi

Time: Sep 15 (Fri): 16:30

Duration: 0:45

Debian Installer is a very complex project with many parts. In a sense, it is an almost-independent OS that is being maintained by the installer team inside the Debian archive. Its code organization, build processes, compile-time and run-time modularity, user interfaces, translations, the install process itself… Every piece involved has its own idiosyncrasies due to its age and the constraints under which it was designed to work.

It’s a marvel, but it’s showing its age. There’s a massive learning curve of understanding the existing legacy, and the requirement to not break it. There’s the issue of not having enough developer time and attention for development, let alone reviewing others’ work and mentoring them. As a result, it appears that most often things move very slowly if they do at all.

I think the current state isn’t really sustainable, and that bringing more Developer attention to the installer is the key to avoid it being frozen in time. So, in this talk I’ll try to explain how everything related to the installer is connected together, and guide you through the process of how to work on it.