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Copyleft's MAXI, Stick FAQ

What are MAXI and Stick?
MAXI Stick are flash drives that do two things.
1. Installs a Debian GNU/Linux system.
2. Acts a repository for the complete Debian 9.x archive.
There are smaller versions, DVD sized Sticks.
The MAXI-FLOSS Stick is the functional equivalent of the 14 DVD Official Debian disc set.

What architectures?
i386 (32 bit) and amd64 (64 bit) on different usb sticks.

How does it work?
The initial installation is quite normal. Plug in the usb stick and boot. When the installation usb stick is inserted after rebooting it is automatically mounted and extra software can be installed.

Automount will only mount MAXI and Stick installation sticks of the same architecture as the installed system. The mounted MAXI stick is in effect a 128GB optical disc (64GB for MAXI FLOSS). However, future MAXI Sticks of the same architecture will also be mounted, eg 64 bit Debian 10 on a 64 bit machine installed from a MAXI Debian 9 stick.

How big is it?
The two versions of MAXI are are loaded onto separate flash drives. The DVD Sticks are DVD sized.

Why not use the on-line repositories?
Some people are Internet deprived, slow /expensive /erratic /non-existent. Some people have to use old hardware without working cdrom drives. This is often the case in the poorer parts of the world. And then there are those people who like to have the complete Debian archive in their pocket.

What about these poor parts of the world?
Arrangements will be made with organizations representing and working with communities in these areas. These people are encouraged to contact me.

What about updates?
Debian supplies update discs for the point releases. They will include main, contrib and non-free.

What are the other features?
As well as the standard main and contrib components, the MAXI includes non-free and deb-multimedia (as local) filesystems as well. The non-free firmware is included to make a less lumpy installation. The DVD Sticks contain main, contrib, non-free and firmware.

Can I download MAXI?
What ever system is used, ~65 GB has to be downloaded from somewhere. Jigdo is the method being used as it is a standard way of distributing Debian and Ubuntu images. The jigdo files have been produced. They are available on the Copyleft site.

What is jigdo?
Jigsaw Download. The Jigdo and template files are downloaded. Jigdo is then pointed at a Debian mirror and the required software packages downloaded into the template. As the jigdo and template files are less than 1% of the total image they take up little room on a server. However, jigdo will have to download about 65GB of packages from a Debian mirror. The new image checksum is identical to the original.


Can I install Debian packages with a CD or DVD?
Yes. A usb stick or optical disc can be used. But make certain that the cdrom tray is empty when using a stick. The cdrom drive and usb ports continue to work as normal for video, sound, data etc. Network software installation can be used.

This was tested on Debian stretch.
/qemu is the path to the MAXI.qcaw2 image
/dev/sdx is where the MAXI stick shows up as a drive. fdisk -l will find it.
qcow2 works much better than raw. Do not use usb3.
ABCD is the vendorid 1234 is the productid
These are found by plugging in the MAXI stick and running lsusb, the MAXI stick line is easily identified. ABCD:1234 is what you want.
Creating the blank image
qemu-img create -f qcow2 /qemu/MAXI.qcow2 8G
Installing the system
kvm -hda /qemu/MAXI.qcow2 -boot \
d -cdrom /dev/sdx -m 1024
Booting the client system.
kvm -m 1024 /qemu/MAXI.qcow2 \
-usbdevice host:ABCD:1234
Once the client system has booted then the MAXI stick can be inserted and extra software installed.

What is the copyright situation?
Any copyrights that E.P.G. Charles (Copyleft) has on MAXI are licensed under the GPL v3. This means that people can redistribute and modify MAXI without restriction in most jurisdictions, including New Zealand and Australia. Some countries may be more restrictive. Some software packages have their own copyright conditions, but they are redistributable.

Ubuntu has no problems with usb sticks, so why Debian?
Ubuntu and most other distributions use live usb sticks as installation media. The installation is started by booting off the stick and once complete the stick is not used to install extra software. Without the automount feature the MAXI stick would have to be manually mounted every time new software was to be installed.

Are there any installation problems?
The MAXI modifications occur at the very end of the installation, just before booting the new system. So any installation problems are Debian problems.

Where do I get help?
Most of the problems you will come across will be Debian problems so the answer will be in the Debian documentation and mailing lists. The Debian manual and release notes are included in MAXI. If the problem concerns the mounting of the stick then it is a Copyleft problem, so ask me.

What is the history of the usb stick problem?
The problem surfaced about the time of the wheezy release, but it was too late for a fix to be incorporated in wheezy. The issue was brought up again in the latter part of 2014 but the relevant code is old and solving the stick problem might have prompted a complete rewrite. As they say, if you want it fixed, fix it yourself.

Who is this Copyleft that produced MAXI?
Copyleft was founded in 1997 by E.P.G. (Philip) Charles as a hobby. For about ten years he was producing the installation discs for Debian GNU/Hurd. During this time he was a Debian Developer. He has at various times 'improved' and/or 'corrected' Mandriva, SUSE, Red Hat and other installation discs. Custom discs have been produced from the inception of Copyleft.

What about feedback?
Feedback about MAXI and this FAQ is very welcome. Any other suggestions are also welcome.

Philip Charles 2017

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