Package: debian-installer
Version: 20230607
Severity: normal
Usertags: origin-kali

Dear Maintainer,

This issue doesn't affect Debian (as Debian's installer images come with
a signed GRUB), but it affects Debian derivatives that use a unsigned
GRUB in their installer. In particular, it did break the Kali Linux
installer images a short while ago, cf.

The cause of the issue is this commit:

In the change above, the GRUB font was changed from '$prefix/font.pf2'
to 'unicode'. However nothing was done to copy the unicode font at the
right location. It's not an issue for Debian, which uses a sigend GRUB,
ie. a big bundle that embeds everything needed, including this unicode

However for derivatives that don't use Debian's signed GRUB (like Kali
Linux), what we get is a more "traditional" GRUB: a small binary, and
plenty of modules and other files that GRUB will load as need be. For
this unsigned GRUB, we must make sure that the unicode font is present
at the right location.

I propose the following fixes:
to change the GRUB font from ascii.pf2 to unicode.pf2, and install it
under the fonts/ directory. so
that debian-cd tries to copy fonts from grub/*.pf2 and grub/fonts/.

Below comes a longer step-by-step procedure to repoduce the issue, if
anyone wants to check it by themselves.


First, build a set of installer images with `EFI_SIGNED` set to no.

cd debian-installer
sed -i 's/EFI_SIGNED=y/EFI_SIGNED=n/' build/config/*.cfg
git commit -a -m "EFI_SIGNED=n"
sbuild --arch=i386

Then, rebuild a iso with those installer images. I used `simple-cdd`:

mkdir <<WORKDIR>>
cd <<WORKDIR>>

mkdir custom-installer
cp <<PATH-TO>>/debian-installer-images_* custom-installer/
cd custom-installer; for f in *.gz; do tar -xf $f; done; cd ..

cat << EOF > simple-cdd.conf
mirror_tools="reprepro download"
mirror_files=""  # Don't try to download README doc/ tools/
export OMIT_MANUAL=1
export ARCHES="amd64 i386"  # Workaround

build-simple-cdd --verbose --debug --force-root --conf simple-cdd.conf

Boot the resulting iso with kvm and UEFI enabled: we can briefly see a error
message about missing unicode font, then the GRUB menu appears. Hit <Enter> to
start installation: it fails with "Booting in blind mode".

Find more details (and screenshots!) at:




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