A few experiments have led to a partial route to pre-seeding Emdebian Grip from a standard Debian Lenny ISO. A few issues arise:
The Lenny installer needs parameters added on the boot command line to achieve a partial pre-seeding to provide access to the Emdebian Grip packages - setting the pre-seeding config can lead to an ugly interface in older versions of the automatic install. with older versions of the Lenny installer (auto-install < 1.3). Manual installations are problematic because of the need to add the grip-config package and provide the Emdebian archive keyring. Automatic installs can use a shortened url url=www.emdebian.org whereas Manual installs need to specify the full path: url=http://www.emdebian.org/d-i/lenny/preseed.cfg. Part of the preseeding also sets the debconf priority to medium instead of critical so that the rest of the questions involved in d-i can be asked. (The redirects used for emdebian.org complicate things slightly.) I'll update the entry with a tested implementation once it's working.
HD-Media installation media also have intrinsic problems that (whilst not preventing installation) tend to complicate things. The principal reason is that the ISO contains ordinary Debian packages which debootstrap then installs, only to replace them later with versions from Emdebian Grip.
The pre-seeding is essential to achieve two objectives:
Allow debootstrap to use the Emdebian archive by providing the emdebian archive keyring. The Emdebian server is not a Debian box, it is not maintained by DSA, it is not under the control of debian-release and it does allow access from some non-DD's (albeit that Hector is in NM).
Allow the installation of grip-config that allows the installation to proceed without failing on small bugs that cannot be fixed in a release freeze.
I've had a few problems with the Emdebian Grip repository during all this testing and testing is currently badly broken. Tests should use suite=unstable in addition to the pre-seeding url.
For Debian Squeeze, some method of including all this configuration into the default ISO would be good but having anything available for Emdebian Grip based on Lenny is only possible because Lenny has been delayed.
Overall, it is possible to install Emdebian Grip - with a little help - using Debian Installer. A few more changes should make it possible to select a standard Emdebian Grip installation without X and an Emdebian Grip XFCE desktop.
Remaining issues include:
pre-configuration of things like screen-resolution
pre-configuration of the wireless support for machines like the Eee and Acer Aspire1
A bespoke config package can be arranged for this purpose - it won't be compliant with Debian Policy, at least as far as the status of Policy for Lenny.
Lots more to do but Lenny is still in-progress so there's time to get a usable installation before FOSDEM.