TurnKey Core 12.0 RC based on Debian Squeeze

I'm pleased to announce a spanking brand new release candidate for TurnKey Core 12.0 - the common base for all appliances, based on the rock solid Debian Squeeze (6.0.4). The rumors were true! Hurrah! Hurrah!

This is an RC release, so take it for a spin and let us know what you think. If you come across any issues, please report them. If you have ideas on how to make it better, let us know!

Download RC: 138MB ISO (changelog, signature, manifest)

Did you say Debian?

Why yes, yes I did. Here's the back story...

In mid-2010 we released our first ever Debian appliance based on Lenny. In the announcement Liraz discussed whether Debian based appliances are worth the trouble as well as some notes on Ubuntu vs. Debian.

Back then we decided not to release the entire TurnKey library based on Lenny as Squeeze was around the corner, and we were spread quite thin.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, Liraz and I were discussing the upcoming Ubuntu LTS release, which is scheduled for April. We were deliberating when would be the best time to begin the transition.

During the conversation we revisited the idea of supporting Debian, and decided it was time. We've been wanting to support Debian since TurnKey's inception, and it seems that a significant 59% of users want Debian-based appliances "a lot"!

Rolled up my sleeves

So, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. It wasn't too long and I had a working TurnKey bootstrap image (102MB ISO, Meta) based on Squeeze.  The most annoying part of that was dealing with the non-backwards compatible bootsplash. Turns out that was a good thing, as it forced me to do cleanup, and remove panel options that weren't actually doing anything. How nobody filed a bug on that is beyond me :)

Then I moved onto Core. Upgrading our Live Installer (di-live) was a little boring, but after fixing some bugs and seeing it work, not to mention setup LVM and install the entire OS in under a minute, it put a smile on my face.

After upgrading several key components, fixing bugs (thanks to everyone who submitted bug reports, and Jeremy for his excellent work triaging and keeping the bug tracker up to date), tweaks here and there, and testing, I was a happy camper.

To summarize, there were ups and downs but all in all it was good fun - ask my wife, I updated her on progress every evening whether she wanted to know or not.

But, there is still a long road ahead, and this is only the first milestone.


  • New and improved signature files: include detailed steps on how to verify image integrity, as well as md5 and sha1 checksums for convenience. Take a look.
  • Locale improvements: default locale is now set to en_US.UTF-8, updated configuration for compatibility with Squeeze. Freeing up disk space is now performed by localepurge.
  • Boot splash and loader: upgraded bootsplash for compatibility, removed unused panel options, and tweaked bootloader timeouts.
  • Live installer (di-live): upgraded for Squeeze compatibility and misc bugfixes.
  • Webmin: upgraded to latest upstream release and disabled inline upgrades (managed by APT).

All other changes, bugfixes and tweaks are available in the changelog.

As for the features, not much has changed except for the base distribution.

Long story short, try the RC and tell us what you think. Obviously we have immense respect for both Ubuntu and Debian, and we'd like to hear your views on where we should take it from here.


Jeremy Davis's picture

Although not sure when I'll get a chance to play with it... So much to do, so little time... I'm really hoping life will settle back down in a week or two and I can get back to much of the geeky TKL goodness that I love to play with. Looking forward to taking this for a test drive.

Anyway it sounds like it was a good excuse to squash a few bugs! :)

Adrian Moya's picture

I was really waiting for a new TKL Core to start some work on appliances, althou I'm still more inclined to ubuntu-based ones. I surely take this core for a spin, I have discovered that 90% of my TKLs were self developed, so I was really needing a core to work with.

What worries me is that development of new appliances suffer because of the 2 base core: they should be completly compatible considering that ubuntu is debian based, but I'm not really sure. Also, more options not always is good, because you can make a less technical audience to be confused with which appliance to download.

Anyway, I think I'm late to the discussion, so I'll make the most of this debian core trying out my tklpatches. I'll give you guys some feedback as soon as I can.

Liraz Siri's picture

Squeeze is very similar to Lucid. I routinely use packages from one in the other usually without any problems. If I'm not mistaken I think this is because Lucid was branched from a version of Debian testing that eventually became Squeeze.

Regarding the choice between Ubuntu and Debian I agree that this could be an issue. We need to think some more about it.

Anil Mahadev's picture

Great going guys :)!!

Due to work pressure, need to try it end of the month :).


TKL Rocks!!

Chris Musty's picture

Is there any performance or other benefits?

Is there a risk that it will become unpopular and hence no longer supported?

TKLBAM between Ubuntu and Debian, and vice versa?

Chris Musty


Specialised Technologies

Jeremy Davis's picture

In my experience, Debian generally contains less bloat (138MB Debian-TKL-Core vs 180MB Ubuntu-TKL-Core) and seems to use less resources and thus run a little quicker/smoother. Many long term Debian users claim that it is more stable than Ubuntu. I have little experience with Debian servers, but a Debian desktop feels much more responsive that Ubuntu with similar packages (i compared Debian Squeeze to Ubuntu Lucid which contains many of the same packages due to Lucid being taken from Debian testing while it was frozen - just prior to Squeeze release).

As Debian and Ubuntu are so close (most Ubuntu packages originate from Debian with little or no modification) I don't think development/maintenance will be an issue. Also this has been on the cards for a long time so I think that if the devs release a stable/final release then they will maintain it regardless.

Here are the fundamentla differences as I see them (my opinion only):

  Ubuntu LTS Debian Stable
Release Schedule Tight release schedule - 2 yrs between LTS releases (in development for 6 mths only - LTS base taken from snapshot of Debian 'testing'). 'When ready'; sometimes as long as 3 yrs between Stable releases. Constant development cycle ('testing' eventually becomes 'stable').
Support Cycle Reliable cycle; 5 yrs support from LTS release. Can more easily plan for future. Potentially gives up to 3yrs to migrate from one LTS to the next. 12mths support for old-stable, following release of new-stable. Only gives 12mths to migrate to new stable.
Ownership Owned/sponsored by Canonical. Community ownership.
Governance Somewhat community meritocracy but not democratic. 'Benevolent' dictator (Mark Shuttleworth) and Canonical employees (less so) have final say. Democratic meritocracy, elected council have final say.
Open Source Favours usability/end user experience beyond commitment to open source. Favours free open source software.
Stability Generally stable, sometimes buggy due to less testing (tight release schedule). Bugs often fixed slowly (or not at all) due to focus constantly changing to development of the next release. 'Rock solid' stablility due to 'when ready' release schedule with extended testing. Bugs more likely to be fixed due to lack of rush for next release.
Age of Packages Generally newer packages (usually less time between releases and shorter development timeframe). Tend to be older packages due to extended release cycle and often drawn out final release schedule (package freeze can last for many months).
Commercial Support 'Official' commercial support available direct from Canonical. No 'offical' support available for purchase, although there are 3rd parties which offer support contracts.
Developer Tools Launchpad (as used by TKL) includes bugtracker, blueprints, etc as well as PPAs. No official ones (that I know of).
Community Very friendly and helpful; 'newb' friendly community with clear 'code of conduct'; although developers sometimes unresponsive (dev agenda set by Canonical). Has got much better in recent years but has historical reputation for being somewhat elitist; history of 'flame wars' and infighting.
Documentation, Community Support and Resources Generally great documentation; both official and community maintained. Huge, very active forums. Documentation often lacking, although generally not too bad. Good forums although much smaller and less active. Also mailing list.

As for TKLBAM, generally this shouldn't be an issue between official appliances that include minimal custom tweaks. As Ubuntu is more-or-less a fork of Debian they are very similar. However once customised and additional packages are included it could become problematic (often package names differ between Ubuntu and Debian). This will be a case of trial and error I imagine.

Liraz Siri's picture

This is such a good comparison it should really have been a blog post! It's not too late Jeremy. Think about it! :)

Most of your information is spot on, with a few minor gaps. For example, Debian actually has a very impressive array of developer tools, they're just much more old school's than Ubuntu's launchpad and not as well presented. It's not all click and point. You have to learn the ropes. But the developer infrastructure/sprawl is there and it works well enough for a much larger group of people (Debian Devs) than are working on Ubuntu via Launchpad.

Debian's infrastructure vs Ubuntu's infrastructure is the Bazaar vs the Cathedral...

Regarding the community, the forums aren't where the action's at in Debian so that's not the best comparison. The Debian community goes way way back to before the web existed (1993!). They still prefer old school email to all this newfangled web forum stuff. We're talking about hard core Unix guys many of which still read their mail in a terminal window program such as mutt (not that there's anything wrong with that).

In recent years Debian hasn't gotten as much of the glory as Ubuntu because the people driving the community mostly don't care about marketing or market share. They're just doing Debian for themselves, they've been doing it for 20 years and I'd be very surprised if they're not doing it in another 20. I can't say that for any other major distributions.

Liraz Siri's picture

Concerns security support. All 20,000 Debian packages get backported security updates. For Ubuntu only a much much smaller subset of packages in the main component are guaranteed security updates. This is my number 1 reason for wanting to support Debian. If you're using any package that isn't in main it can be a big deal when you're running stuff in production and want to rely on automatic security updates.
Alon Swartz's picture

Thanks for the feedback.

I've tested on VirtualBox 4.1.8 on Linux (Ubuntu Lucid 10.04 LTS) without issue. Can you reproduce this? What disk type are you using? Fixed or Dynamic?

Could you take a look at /var/log/di-live.log to see what error is displayed?

BTW, you can run di-live in debug mode which might help, by booting the live system, exiting the confconsole and executing 'di-live --debug'.

Jeremy Davis's picture

Installing to a .raw vHDD (which is static size of 32GB). I haven't played at all, just installed with defaults (yes, yes ,ok, etc) and got very similar result to Shantanu:

Unable to install GRUB in /dev/disk/by-id/ata/QEMU_HARDDISK_QM0001
Executing 'grub-install /dev/disk/by-id/ata-QEMU_HARDDISK_QM0001'

This is a fatal error.

I persevered and tried to make it finalise anyway but it hangs after reboot on "Booting from harddrive..." using 100% CPU (like it's still in virtual BIOS).

I haven't had a chance to look any deeper but I assume I'll need to mount the .raw image to check the logs? I'm not sure how to launch di-live in debug mode as I can't exit it (anyway that I can see)...

However I just tried again, but this time I said no to installing grub to the first harddrive, then manually told it to install grub to /dev/sda1 (in the di-live dialog) and it worked fine.

BTW it doesn't shutdown cleanly when the 'Shutdown' button is clicked in the PVE WebUI (like the Ubuntu based appliances do IIRC). I had to click 'Stop'.

Liraz Siri's picture

Excellent feedback JedMeister. Alon setup ProxMox for the testing so hopefully these problems won't be too hard to reproduce and squash when we do the final release..

Alon Swartz's picture

Thanks for reporting the issue folks! I managed to reproduce the bug on vanilla KVM, and updated di-live with a newer version of grub-installer which seems to have solved the issue.

I've uploaded a new ISO (12.0rc2), and updated the download link in the above annoucement, as well on the core appliance page.

It would be great if you could test the new version and report back whether the bug has been squashed.

Omar Malave's picture

My dom0 as host for all my VM is Debian Squeeze, and i was planning to quit tkl and move to debian installing all hand grinding (web servers and mysql servers) so with this notice, im keep in tkl.. thanks!

Liraz Siri's picture

It leaves much to be desired in my opinion as well. The whole "it ships when the date hits" idea sounded great when Debian was stuck in a glacial release cycle, but these days I'm thinking it was an overreaction. There's much to be said for releasing a product when it's actually done as opposed to an arbitrary schedule.

I've come across mind-boggingly stupid bugs in LTS versions of Ubuntu that would never have made it into a Debian release.

Jeremy Davis's picture

I posted briefly about this not that long ago...

Xen is open source hypervisor tech as opposed to XenServer which is a proprietry hypervisor OS (built on top of Xen technology). These are Xen images - not XenServer ones...

According to this post the Xen images are not directly compatible with XenServer (although there is mention of how they can be converted).

Liraz Siri's picture

Me too. Working on it.

Liraz Siri's picture

I came across something similar on one of my home servers. USB device that was detected too late in the boot process or something. Workaround: edit /etc/rc.local and put that manual mount command in there. Not pretty but it might work.

Jeremy Davis's picture

I'm pretty sure that Debian has less 'required' packages in base install.

Alon Swartz's picture

Just a quick update that you can now deploy 12.0rc appliances (currently only core, more will be added once they are ready) to the Amazon EC2 cloud via the TurnKey Hub.

Feedback is ofcourse welcome. If you come across any issues, drop me a line.

Jeremy Davis's picture

TKL appliances have security updates automatically applied so there is no need to 'apt-get upgrade' (unless you want to).

As for TKLPatch, perhaps that is an oversight of the devs. If you add the Lucid repo to your sources.list (as detailed in the wiki) that may work. Although it may not as the Debian packages TKLPatch relies on, may have different names in Debian. After adding the repo rerun your commands above and see what happens.

Regardless it should hopefully install from source though I would think (but not sure).

Alon Swartz's picture

I wanted to test tklpatch on turnkey 12.0 before adding it to the archive, but slipped my mind so thanks for the reminder. I just updated the archive to include tklpatch, but haven't had time to test it yet, though it should work without issues. If you do find any issue, please post back.

You'll need to update the package lists to get the new index before you install:

apt-get update
apt-get install tklpatch
Michael Baumann's picture

Installed perfectly.  Some notes:

-- 2 vCPUs - 1024 Mb RAM - thin HDD - 

-- Had to cron-apt after install because static IP situation

-- Always install webmin-time for correct time

-- Installed VMware tools -- no problems

-- Installed iSCSI server target for testing

-- Installed sendmail

-- Installed sendemail: a very small smtp client which I like

Ubuntu has always gobbled up memory over time for me. This is my first experience with debian.  I see lower memory usage so far.

I'm enjoying the Webmin 1.580 upgrade.

Fantastic work guys !!!


Michael B.

Jeremy Davis's picture

The issues between ESXi and Ubuntu aren't all Ubuntu's fault IMO. The kernel panic issues (which I'm guessing may have been an issue for you) only occurred from ESXi v4.0.1 IIRC. IMO the problems with using a proprietry product...

Having said that I don't think Debian can be beaten for rock solid stability and extensive testing.

Jeremy Davis's picture

So none of us will know when it is ready until they release it. Having said that, I know that the guys have been chipping away at the new release and I imagine that it can't be too far away.

As for migration, v12.x will assumedly support TKLBAM (something wrong if it doesn't) and that will provide a migration path, although it may require some additional tweaking by end users. TKLBAM will migrate the data, but some updating/upgrading of database scemes and other data may be required. This will be dependant on specific software and changes between the relevant versions. Many software devs/communities have documented upgrade proceedures for their software, some even provide upgrade scripts.

Hopefully TKL community members will be able to help each other out in this regard. But we'll have to just wait and see...

Eric (tssgery)'s picture

Here are some handy documents

You don't really install the turnkey core from the command line. Turnkey produces a number of products that are really meant to be used as 'appliances'. That is, the Turnkey images contain the oeprating system (based upon Debian) as well as the applications that you're looking for... all packaged up in a easy to consume way.

Taking the core appliance as an example, there are a few ways you can deploy it:

- Install it onto your bare metal system. This will replace any operating system on your computer so only do this if you are really sure you know what you are doing/want.

- Get some kind of virtualization engine (like VMware ESXi, VMware Workstation, Virtualbox, Microsoft Hyper-V, LXC, Docker, etc). You can then create a Virtual Machine (VM) or Container that allows you to install TKL without replacing your physical systems). This is what I do, primarily with VMware Workstation and VMware ESXi.

- Utilize the Turnkey Hub and deploy an instance onto Amazon Web Services. I have chosen to not do this but many people do and can help if you need it.


Now, github.com hosts the sources for the appliances but if you're looking for prebuilt images (iso, vmdk, ovf, whatever your need is), they can be found on the page for the individual applaince. As an example, the core appliance information/downloads can be found here.


If I didn't answer your question, let me know. It may be good to start a new thread here on the forums if there are specifics you need assistance with.

Alton Henley's picture

Well, that's just the problem. A lot of the virtual device hosts don't let you install from your own uploaded iso. You can only install from the isos that they provide, which are generally the basic install isos for all the usual suspects: debian, ubuntu, centos, etc. 

So my question is what can I install to get started if any anything? Is there a list of the files that tkl adds to the base install to get to the tkl core? or is it just hopeless?

Eric (tssgery)'s picture

As far as I know, there's no way to turn a generic debian installation into a tunkey image. Maybe someone else knows some tricks.

You might be able to take a look at the manifest file for the appliance you want (for example, the 13.0 core manifest is at http://releases.turnkeylinux.org/turnkey-core/13.0-wheezy-amd64/turnkey-...) and install the missing packages if you can determine the right repos to install from... but I'm not sure what success you will have.

You could also look for a different provider that alowed you to provide your own image to install from. We all know that amazon offers the TKL images but I believe you can install from your own with linode. I'm sure others exist as well, if that's an option.


Jeremy Davis's picture

Sorry I'm a bit late here but hopefully better late than never...

Firstly, there was a guy a few years ago who successfully got TKL running on RackSpace (which doesn't offer TKL) by installing a standard barebones base OS (for TKL v13 that'd be Debian Wheezy) and rsyncing the TKL appliance over the top. I would assume that there'd be directories that you won't want to sync (like /dev and /proc for starters) but he seemed pretty happy with the result...

Secondly out of interest, which was the host you were hoping for? Maybe TKL can reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to host TKL images for their VPS customers (such as yourself)...?!

Jeremy Davis's picture

This is an old blog post which relates to a really old release. As such, it isn't super relevant anymore. As it seems to be attracting a lot of spam posts, I'm going to lock it. Please feel free to comment elsewhere or better still sign up and start a new thread.