Can I run Ubuntu in a changeroot jail?

Tony Baechler tony at
Thu May 15 10:23:22 UTC 2008

John J. Boyer wrote:
> I am using Redhat Enterprise Linux, but I occasionally get questions 
> about Ubuntu from people who want to use my liblouis and liblouisxml 
> braille transcription software. I don't want to set up the machine for 
> dual-boot. So I am wondering if I could run Ubuntu in a changeroot jail 
> or something similar for occasional testing.


I can't comment on Ubuntu, but you can run Debian this way.  You need to 
download the debbootstrap package which will download the rest of what 
you'll need.  Also, you can use chroot to do this but I would suggest 
looking at the schroot package instead.  It looks more flexible but I 
haven't tried it yet.  Now for some links: read the article "Virtualizing Without 
Virtualizing" which describes the basic process with schroot and 

Replace the below links with your favorite Debian mirror, I use this 
because it's fast and works well.

Go ahead and get the latest .deb package.  Instructions for extraction 
follow.  If there is a .tar.gz package, you can get that if you want.

Get the *orig.tar.gz package and compile.  I've never looked at it so I 
can't help you there.

To set up debootstrap, you'll need the ar(1) program which should be 
installed on your system.  Just do:

ar x file.deb

You'll get two files, data.tgz and control.tgz.  You can delete 
control.tgz or control.tar.gz.  Extract the data archive as you normally 
would.  From there, you can read the docs and you should be able to 
figure it out.  Basically you tell debootstrap what mirror you want and 
it should get and set up the base packages for you.  If it doesn't, ask 
and I'll look into this further.  Also, I just realized that schroot 
might be specific to Debian in which case you'll need chroot instead, 
but I don't think so.  I read another article on this specifically 
designed for Red Hat which I can find if you need more help.

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