I am trying to script a Debian installation using virt-install and a preseed.cfg file. I am installing into a virtual machine.

Currently, I am using an ISO file rather than a network installation. I ran into the same problem as another user. That is,

  1. --extra-args can not be passed when using --cdrom
  2. giving the path of the iso as --location doesn't seem to work either.

So I followed the Debian wiki instructions to modify the iso with my preseed.cfg file.

The installation now works entirely automatically, except for one final detail. The ISO I used throws up a splash screen on boot, offering the menu where the options are

  • Live (amd64)
  • Live (amd64 failsafe)
  • Install
  • Graphical Install
  • Advanced Options

Once I select 'Install' the rest works perfectly. However, I would like to skip this screen and install directly, but I can't figure out how to do so. Does it require adding an option to the debian preseed.cfg file, modifying the iso, or adding another parameter to virt-install? (Bear in mind the --extra-args constraint).

1 Answer 1


As you're remastering the ISO anyway, you can set a timeout in the isolinux/isolinux.cfg file. Prepend


and be patient for 0.1 s during boot. You could also start your desired kernel with custom arguments and skip the boot menu completely, but the above is the simplest solution if the default fits you.

  • Thank you, this was the clue I needed. I also removed live.cfg from the menu options. so that Install became the topmost default after the timeout expires. In particular, sed -i "s/timeout 0/timeout 1/" isolinux/isolinux.cfg && sed -i "s/include live.cfg/#include live.cfg/" isolinux/menu.cfg. I have accepted the answer as it stands.
    – SauceCode
    Feb 25, 2016 at 0:38
  • 1
    Ah, so it had a TIMEOUT directive already. Glad you solved it! You could have added a DEFAULT directive instead of removing the first item, but the lost functionality probably does not matter to you now. Feb 25, 2016 at 16:06

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