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bug#27735: Unbootable images with GuixSD on... "GuixSD"

From: Tobias Geerinckx-Rice
Subject: bug#27735: Unbootable images with GuixSD on... "GuixSD"
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:40:56 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/45.8.0


[I lost most hours of sleep to this. I might ramble more than usual.]

The default label for images was recently changed[1] to "GuixSD".
While I think it's a fine label, that's also a problem: I've been using
it for years for my root partitions. And when one broke last night, I
couldn't use the GuixSD installer to rescue it.

The installer's now expects exactly one "GuixSD" partition when booting
— at least on UEFI. If the GRUB finds two, the GRUB will randomly
choose. In my case, the GRUB chose a frozen system.

(With a black screen that made debugging hell, but that's probably an
unrelated effect of the roughness of our UEFI support.)

The real problem here is that we're using a label as a UUID.
From gnu/build/vm.scm:

        ;; Create a tiny configuration file telling the embedded grub
        ;; where to load the real thing.
        (call-with-output-file grub-config
          (lambda (port)
            (format port
                    "insmod part_msdos~@
                    search --set=root --label GuixSD~@
                    configfile /boot/grub/grub.cfg~%")))

I'm not the first to think so, as noted in gnu/system/vm.scm:

  (define root-label
    ;; Volume name of the root file system.  Since we don't know which
    ;; will hold it, we use the volume name to find it (using the UUID would
    ;; be even better, but somewhat less convenient.)
    (normalize-label "GuixSD"))

I like that understatement. I'm not sure how to go about creating a
reproducible almost-UUID based on the store hash and passing it to all
the right places in a reasonably non-horrible manner either, random
hacker. And it would mean even more work and testing after all the
heroic effort on the new installer image + UEFI support by Danny,
Marius, and others.

Until it does happen, I suggest we change the name to "GuixSD-image"[2].
Still fragile, but not the PR fail that ‘don't call your GuixSD file
system GuixSD or it will break GuixSD’ would be.



[2]: Or whatever. I remember someone (Danny?) calling "-image" an
implementation detail. I think it's a description of the end result.

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