The Debian 10 live disc and installer say: Heavens me, just look at the time! I’m late for my <segmentation fault


The Debian 10 live cd and its new “calamares” installer are both complete crap. I’ve never had any issues with installing Debian prior to this, save with getting WiFi to work (as expected). But this version? Ugh. Here are the things I’ve run into:

Unknown root password; easy enough to get around as there is no user password; still annoying after the 10th time.

Also, the login screen doesn’t work off-disc because it won’t accept a blank password, so don’t idle or you’ll get locked out.

The lock screen is overzealous and hard-locks the computer after awhile; not even the magic kernel keys work!

The live disc doesn’t have many standard utilities, or a graphical partition editor. Thankfully I’m comfortable with fdisk.

The graphical installer (calamares) randomly segfaults, even from innocuous things like clicking [change partition] when you don’t have a partition selected. Derp.

It also randomly segfaults while writing partitions to disk — usually on the second partition.

It strangely seems less likely to segfault if the partitions are already there, even if it needs to “reformat” (recreate) them.

It also defaults to using MBR instead of GPT for the partition table, despite the tooltip telling you that MBR is deprecated and limited, and that GPT is recommended for new systems. You cannot change this without doing the partitions manually.

If you do the partitions manually and it can’t figure out where to install things, it just crashes. This is great because you can’t tell it where to install things, and specifying mount points like /boot, /, and /home don’t seem to be enough.

It also tries installing 32bit grub instead of 64bit, causing the grub installer to fail.

If you tell it to install grub on /boot, it complains when that partition isn’t encrypted — fair — but if you tell it to encrypt /boot like it wants you to, it then tries installing grub on the encrypted partition it just created, apparently without decrypting it, so that obviously fails — specific error: cannot read file system.

On the rare chance that everything else goes correctly, the install process can still segfault.

The log does include entries for errors, but doesn’t include an error message. Literally: “ERROR: Installation failed:” and the log ends. Helpful!

If the installer doesn’t segfault and the install process manages to complete, the resulting install might not even boot, even when installed without any drive encryption. Why? My guess is it never bothered to install Grub, or put it in the wrong place, or didn’t mark it as bootable, or who knows what.

Even when using the live disc that includes non-free firmware (including Ath9k) it still cannot detect my wlan card (that uses Ath9k).

I’ve attempted to install thirty plus times now, and only managed to get a working install once — where I neglected to include the Ath9k firmware.

I’m now trying the cli-only installer option instead of the live session; it seems to behave at least. I’m just terrified that the resulting install will be just as unstable as the live session.

All of this to copy the contents of my encrypted disks over so I can use them on a different system. =/

I haven’t decided which I’m going with next, but likely Arch, Void, or Gentoo. I’d go with Qubes if I had more time to experiment.

But in all seriousness, the Debian devs need some serious help. I would be embarrassed if I released this quality of hot garbage.

(This same system ran both Debian 8 and 9 flawlessly for years)

  • 3
    Debian devs: its FREE garbage!
    Rest of the world: it's free GARBAGE!
  • 4
    and not a single fuck dropped in the whole post.

    here borrow mine: FUCK.
  • 3
    @Wisecrack Too tired from wading through all the garbage. 🙁
  • 2
    @Root that's very sad.

    Calamares though is not Debian specific, it's a joint effort used by many distributions, but lacks developers.

    So you might find it in alot of other distributions like manjaro.

    But one advice though.

    Don't go down the Gentoo route in your current mental state. Gentoo takes time, since you need to compile stuff by yourself.

    It's great once you get the hang out of it, since you learn about lot of the inner ways of how linux works, packaging and so on.

    But it takes time and patience.

    And I really don't think you have that atm.

    (and I love Gentoo. It's my main distribution since dozen years...)1
  • 0
    been using g/fdisk wherever i can, i never trust graphical partitioning apps;

    are you using gdisk to partition gpt tables, or fdisk?
  • 1
    Got Debian 10 to install — had better luck with the cli-only installer — and now it freezes when starting KDE.

    FFS I give up.
  • 1
    @ParkCity fdisk.
    (And the Debian installers)
  • 0
    Did you did a checksum or md5sum to validate the integrity of the ISO ?
  • 2
    @elgringo Yes. 😕
  • 0
    @ParkCity the fun thing here is...

    Both could break the installer in fun ways.

    If you want a 100 % working way to install debian manually, use a chroot plus debootstrap after partitioning and formatting (using a live cd with a kernel matching the target kernel and current filesystem utils).

    But that's not the point here, and I guess noone would do it like this (except me, who hates any kind of installer because of all the questions involved...).

    The reason installers are very "brittle" is because there are magnitons of things going possibly wrong.

    Eg UEFI.

    Depending on library and used partition manager, some tools fail to validate the ESP partition.

    Too large.
    Not aligned.
    Missing flags.
    Missing BIOS boot partition (some installers still enforce this).

    There are several more, just some pointers to why this is like it is.

    Sometimes the EFIVARFS is the culprit.

    The EFIVARFS is modified by the efibootmgr which is called by grub-install.

    There were numerous issues with EFIVARFS in the past and still exist.

    A funny one was eg this:

    Debian 10 added support for secureboot, which should be mentioned, since you should make sure that the shim is installed correctly and work's TM.


    The thing is (and actually this is a mini rant since I get root's frustration)...

    We're still only at the UEFI stage.

    That's not the largest part.

    It's just UEFI, aka the "bootloader".


    And yes... I've unfucked many many many systems via Live CD.

    And many many many times it was'nt even the fault of linux or (U)efi per se, but rather bad mobo supplier.

    It's disturbing, but BIOS upgrade plus EFIVARFS nuke plus Secure boot key reset plus reinstall is something I can do in my sleep.

    Might be one of the many reasons I hate UEFI.
  • 1
    @Root wtf is calamares on, yikes

    Debian tries to boot MBR even though its deprecated?

    or is fdisk giving yoi trouble when making a GPT table
  • 0
    Calling MBR deprecated. This is really absurd.
  • 3
    What worries me most are the segfaults because they point to shitty coding practice, lack of defensive programming, and they probably didn't bother to use static code analysis tools.

    Another concern is, what else besides the installer did these clowns code?
  • 2
    Devuan (Beowulf), which is based on Debian 10, installed perfectly the first attempt.

    Still no WiFi, but that’s completely normal for me 🙄
  • 1
    @Root At least you now have an system. :)

    But all in all... That's really terrifying. Debian was meant to be stable, seems like they made big pile of poo
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