Mini.iso possible anymore?

I don’t mean this post/question as yet another “I hate change” post, but the new installer “live” installer based on Subiquity is really a downgrade at this point over the legacy debian-installer.

So far I haven’t really managed to figure out any advantage over the legacy installer, it’s just not convenient, it’s more convoluted and in some ways even more restrictive.

Let me explain:

The current PXE process is much slower, because you have to load and verify the 1.4GB ISO each and every time you boot a machine into the installer (ever had to start the installer on a server 2-3 times because there was something wrong and you didn’t boot up properly? fun times). There is, apparently, no way to boot a smaller iso, and you suddenly find yourself having to either rely on a (fast) internet connection, or a PXE environment with enough space and the necessary tools to serve a large ISO locally.

This is sadly not always possible.

I’m sure most seasoned server admins have gone trough a scenario where they had to install/rescue a server that was located in an area with a poor internet connection, and without a proper PXE environment available locally.

The mini.iso (40MB) installer was just great from this point of view. Even over a dodgy IPMI’s Virtual Media feature, you were able boot a server over a poor connection with enough patience.

If you ever try to boot a 1.4GB over IPMI now, you’re gonna be in a world of pain.

On the other hand, I find subiquity to be very opinionated.

Subiquity won’t let you partition a disk with a DOS partition table. It always wants to do it GPT. Yes, sure, it’s 2022, “why would you need DOS?”. Regardless of my reasons, I don’t need the partitioner to force my decisions.

The only solution is to swap to another terminal and create the partition table manually with fdisk or similar tools.

Further more, even if you do create the partition table as DOS, Subiquity will insist on creating a bios_boot partition, even if one is clearly not needed when you are not booting GPT from a non-EFI system.

The partitioner also lost the ability to set mount options (discard, noatime etc.) at the time of install.

Subiquity also no longer allows you to skip the user creation anymore. You could easily do that with the debian-installer by skipping a step, but now you are forced to create one.

The auto-configuration is also completely different than the preseeds for the debian-installer: you have to declare each and every section to be interactive explicitly, as opposed to “declare what you need, fill the rest at install time”.

So, my question is - is there any way to actually build the debian-installer (and specifically, mini.iso) for Jammy?

I noticed that the package is still in universe, but I’ve never gone down the road of building my own so I have 0 experience with it.

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