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Sunday, January 31, 2010

smiley's website > ZyX-LiveInstaller

ZyX-LiveInstaller Project
GPL source and binary downloads
The Experience
screenshots from before inclusion in Fedora(tm) repos
online source tree
pkg repo db entry -- bugz
WiKi Instructions


The ZyX Graphical Rebootless LiveOS Installer will allow you to install a 'live operating system'(LiveOS) to an internal or external system storage volume/disk, just like the standard Fedora LiveOS installer (anaconda/liveinst). However, unlike traditional *nix installers, after installation you will not need to reboot. The same 'live' system, applications, and data that you were using before, during, and after installation, seamlessly transforms into a traditional permanent OS installation on the destination system disk.

This is accomplished by copying the running 'live' root filesystem block for block, while in use, to the destination volume. This is done using a devicemapper 'mirror' device. Once the mirroring completes, the resources for the original LiveOS root filesystem are released, leaving a normally[1] installed system. Thus you could for instance, eject the LiveCD (or remove LiveUSB), insert a blank media, and immediately burn a replicated copy of the LiveOS to give to one person, while another person is already using the freed LiveOS media on another system. All this before shutting down or rebooting the system for the first time.

[1] The only minor difference between the final installed system, and a traditionally installed system, is that until the first reboot, the mounted root filesystem will be accessed through a nearly no-op simple devicemapper linear layer. In other words, until the next boot, a performance hit no worse than any other rootfs-on-lvm installation.

Howto :: Test and Use ZyX-LiveInstaller

Partitioning - You are mostly on your own-

No matter which distribution you are using, you must essentially do your partitioning with whatever native tools are available. Fedora has palimpsest, SoaS has gparted, CentOS has fdisk. zyx-liveinstaller does have a simple button to launch the best external gui partitioning tool it can find, and return you to its installation wizard when you have completed partitioning.

You will need at least one partition/volume for the root filesystem. Additionally you may optionally choose partitions/volumes for a seperate /boot, and swap space.

Note: Just like the Fedora/Anaconda/Liveinst installer, this will necessarily be a destructive install, reformatting the chosen partitions/volumes.

Note: You needn't concern yourself with formatting, or setting the type and bootable flags on the destination partitions, as zyx-liveinstaller will set these appropriately.

Launching in Fedora-11, 12 or rawhide (or derived) LiveCD/USB-

  • From the main menu, select System-> ->Administration-> ->Add/Remove_Software

  • Search for zyx-liveinstaller, and install.

  • From the main menu, launch Applications-> ->SystemTools-> ->Rebootless_LiveOS_Installation

Launching in SugarOnAStick Blueberry

  • ZyX-LiveInstaller is already included in the latest SoaS development releases. Follow the instructions here to download and burn either a Sugar-centric LiveCD or LiveUSB.

  • Launch the terminal activity.

  • type and run 'zyx-liveinstaller'

Launching in CentOS-5.4 LiveCD/USB -


Once launched, just read the on-screen instructions and follow the wizard. Basically it boils down to selecting root, boot, and swap destination volumes, confirmation, and then installation progress. Once progress is under way, you can switch to another window, continue work in your live system, and all that work will get installed to the system disk in the background. When installation completes, just go about your business, and reboot when you feel like it, or possibly even never!


Q: What distributions are supported?

  • Guitar-ZyX -- of course

  • SugarOnAStick Blueberry

  • Fedora -- Packages are now available in the F11, F12, and rawhide repositories

  • CentOS -- Most recently I added support in 0.1.15 for CentOS-5.4. I havent tested but perhaps CentOS-5.3 and earlier may work as well.

See the quickstart howto section above for more links and instructions on testing and use.

In order for zyx-liveinstaller's technique to be used with debian, ubuntu, and derivatives, tools will need to be written or enhanced to enable the composition of a sufficiently custom devicemapper-based LiveCD/USB spin.

Q: What concerns/risks are there with using this software?

  • First, like all GPL software, there are the usual WARNINGS about NO WARRANTY, not even implied warranties of merchantibility or fitness for a particular purpose.

  • Second, this installation process will OVERWRITE at least one disk partition, AS WELL AS YOUR BOOTLOADER. If you want to boot the resulting computer+disk to any other OS like one currently on it, you will need to manually configure the resulting grub installation to do. The typical ability to automatically detect and configure the most typical dual boot scenarios is on the roadmap for subsequent releases, but not currently present.

  • Finally, as is standard good advise for any OS installation, you should have sufficiently complete and recent backups of all the computer's data, as well as knowledge of how to restore that data should a nasty as yet unknown bug bite you. Though with the SoaS Blueberry testing cycle, ZyX-LiveInstaller did get a vastly greater amount of testing than I had done in the year or two prior.

Q: What doesn't (yet) work?

This is definitely still a rapidly maturing piece of software. Please see the latest documentation located in the online browsable sourcetree. Specifically-

Go there...


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