How often do you need to install your favorite Linux distribution in a single year either virtually or using real hardware? How frequently it happens that you just want to test new release of certain Linux distribution so you install it on different partition or simply virtually using your current system as a host. How often do you need to deploy a server which is a complete clone of the one you configured yesterday. The installation part of any Linux system today is a very straightforward process. Nonetheless, the hardest and the most tedious part comes with a fine tuning, customization and configuration of your system’s services as well as your own user environment. You can simply copy your custom system configuration files from one system to another but engaging in this concept this task can become quite disorganized, time consuming and most importantly error-prone.
In this article, we are going to take a different approach which involves a creation of a Debian package archive containing all required custom user and configuration files. First part of this article describes a rather simple way on how to create a Debian package archive containing all custom files followed by its installation. In the second part, we will look at the way on how to create our own very basic Debian Repository and use it to deploy a simple website including Apache webserver installation and configuration on a freshly installed Linux system.
In this section, we create and install simple Debian package. The package will accommodate some sample user data to serve as an example.
Creating a Debian Package
It took you a while to configure your desktop to have it the way it best suits your needs and convenience. In your custom environment, you may for example include some bash scripts, create several aliases using .bashrc file or changed default behavior of a vim text editor by altering .vimrc file. Furthermore, you may also have customized numerous system configuration files such as /etc/network/interfaces and so on. All this hard work can be saved within a Debian package and installed and removed from any system with a single dpkg command. As a first step we need to create a bare minimum skeleton for a Debian package. This is a fairly simple task as it only involves a single DEBIAN/control file. So let us start by creating a directory named “myenv”. This directory will hold all data for our own version 1.0 Debian package.
$ mkdir myenv
In the next step, we need to create a control file:
$ cd myenv
$ mkdir DEBIAN
$ vi DEBIAN/control