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specifying installation repositories in linuxrc

1. regular install media

(repo meta data are in /suse/setup/descr/)

linuxrc identifies this repo by checking for a file '/content' in the installation repository. The file must have a valid signature ('/content.asc'). linuxrc parses this file for sha* digests (the HASH lines). These digests are used to verify any files linuxrc accesses from the installation repository.

To specify the installation repository, use the install option:


linuxrc also loads a file system image containing the installation system (YaST) from the repository. The default location is boot/<ARCH>/root.

In the example above on x86_64 this would be

It is possible to specify a different location (e.g. in case the installation system is not part of the repository) using the instsys option. Either as a separate option or appended to the install url:

install= instsys=disk:/bar/root

# is the same as

instsys can be a relative url (a plain file name) which is then interpreted as relative to the install-url:

install= instsys=bar/root

# is the same as
install= instsys=

Note that even though instsys can point anywhere, the files downloaded from there must still match the digests obtained from /content from the repository location.

Note also, that the full path as specified in content must appear in the url. For example, if content provides a sha256 digest for boot/x86_64/root this will not be applied to foo/root.

2. plain repomd repository

(repo meta data are in /repodata/)

linuxrc identifies this repo by checking for a file '/repodata/repomd.xml' in the installation repository. This file's signature is not checked (linuxrc does not parse this file).

As there's normally no installation system included in such a repository, you'll have to pass its location using the instsys option. For example, the openSUSE Tumbleweed repo has repomd data.

Normally you would use:


but you can also use repomd:

install= instsys=../boot/x86_64/root

Note that unless you specify also insecure=1 in the latter case, you'll get warnings about linuxrc not being able to verify the downloaded images.

Lets see how to avoid this.

2.1. solving the digest problem

As there's no longer a content file, linuxrc needs to get the digests in some other way. Fortunately it parses content just like any other config file, so you can simply copy it into linuxrc's config directory and add that to the initrd.

mkdir -p /tmp/foo/etc/linuxrc.d
cp content /tmp/foo/etc/linuxrc.d/
cd /tmp/foo
find . | cpio -o -H newc | xz --check=crc32 -c >>initrd_on_boot_medium

3. components linuxrc reads

linuxrc reads files from two distinct locations:

  1. the installation system ('inst-sys')
  2. the installation repository ('repo')

The repo location is specified with the install option. Optionally, the inst-sys location is specified with the instsys option. If it's not given, it is implicitly assumed to be boot/<ARCH>/root, relative to the repo location.

See the previous sections for examples.

3.1. files read from inst-sys location

linuxrc replaces the last path component from the location url with config to get the url of a config file and tries to read it.

If the config file is not there, linuxrc will continue to read the inst-sys image as originally specified and mount it.

If the config file was found (the normal case) it is parsed to determine the components needed for the inst-sys and then the components are loaded.

A simple config file may look like:

# boot/x86_64/config

root:   common root bind
rescue: common rescue

Meaning that the root image consists of three files common, root, and bind and the rescue image of two parts common and rescue. So, assuming the standard locations, linuxrc will load boot/<ARCH>/common, boot/<ARCH>/root, and boot/<ARCH>/bind in the first case and boot/<ARCH>/common and boot/<ARCH>/rescue in the second.

More general the syntax is:

part:      sub_part1 sub_part2 ...
sub_part1: sub_sub_part11 sub_sub_part12 ...

You can modify a part specification by:

  1. prefixing it with ? to mark it optional
  2. appending ?list=path_spec1,path_spec2,... to indicate you need not the full image but only the files matching any of the path specs (shell glob syntax)
  3. appending ?copy=1 to indicate that this is not an image or archive to mount or unpack but a plain file to copy to the / directory
  4. using <lang> (verbatim!) as macro to be replaced by the current locale

With this in mind a more realistic config file example could look like:

root:               common root bind ?cracklib-dict-full.rpm ?yast2-trans-<lang>.rpm ?configfiles
rescue:             common rescue ?cracklib-dict-full.rpm
configfiles:        control.xml?copy=1
yast2-trans-ko.rpm: yast2-trans-ko.rpm un-fonts.rpm?list=*/UnDotum.ttf

Here, the inst-sys would consist of common, root, bind, cracklib-dict-full.rpm (if it exists), yast2-trans-en_US.rpm (if it exists and assuming current locale is en_US), and additionally (if it exists), control.xml is downloaded and stored as /control.xml.

For the Korean locale we'll need also a special font rpm (un-fonts.rpm) but only UnDotum.ttf from it.

3.2. files read from repo location

In addition to the files described in sections 1. and 2., linuxrc will try to read these files (and store them in /):

  • /media.1/info.txt
  • /license.tar.gz
  • /
  • /control.xml

and, if no AutoYaST option has been given, it will read and parse

  • /autoinst.xml

and then add an AutoYaST option pointing to the downloaded file.

Note this happens after downloading the files in section 3.1. and may overwrite them.