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I've been trying to figure this out all day. Is it possible to boot from a basic image on a CD or USB stick or something and install from a ...
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  1. #1
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    Network install with no PXE/DNS


    I've been trying to figure this out all day. Is it possible to boot from a basic image on a CD or USB stick or something and install from a network image that YOU specify? I have a bunch of computers that will require several different installs. I have all of the ISO's downloaded to a server ( a local web server as it turns out ) but I don't want to be burning all of these disks. A PXE server would be great, but some of the machines don't have that ability, not to mention, I'm on a rather restricted network in that regard. All of the machines have CD-ROMs, so i guess as long as I could start the system up, I could take the CD-ROM out once the install has started. Anyone have any advice?

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    Linux Engineer Freston's Avatar
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    It might be possible, depending on your distro of choice. I know it can be done on Slackware.

    But what is it you are trying to do? I ask, because you say you have several machines and several iso's. So you're not installing the same distro on all different machines. Each machine gets it's own distro? Are these installer iso's? Or disk images? Or something else?

    Can you tell a little bit more?
    Can't tell an OS by it's GUI

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    Exactly, I have several install ISOs: Fedora, Ubuntu, and Centos is just downloading now:

    Fedora-12-x86_64-DVD.iso
    ubuntu-9.10-desktop-amd64.iso

    Then I mount the ISOs on my server, linking the mount from a location within the webservers tree:

    mount -o loop /var/www/html/pub/iso/Fedora-12-x86_64-DVD.iso /var/www/html/pub/linux/fedora

    I have just figured out that if I take one of my old install disks for Fedora 9, I can start that up and add "askmethod" to boot options. From there I can specify where the installer can find the install files.

    I haven't actually tried to do the install just yet, but I wish I could just have the one disk, or if I could access the installer from those disk images.

    Am I crazy for trying this? Probably, but I hate having to burn every new version of Ubuntu and Fedora.

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    Linux Engineer Freston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dghouse
    Am I crazy for trying this? Probably, but I hate having to burn every new version of Ubuntu and Fedora.
    I wouldn't know if these have those options. I can imagine they might, but it depends on the flexibility of the installer I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by dghouse
    mount -o loop /var/www/html/pub/iso/Fedora-12-x86_64-DVD.iso /var/www/html/pub/linux/fedora
    Well, if that works then that's good, but eh... http?

    Why don't you make a directory called (for example) /xport and export that over NFS
    Code:
    /xport/ *(ro,nohide,root_squash,sync,no_subtree_check)
    And put all your iso's in there.

    Then from the client, mount the NFS share, and `mount -o loop` the iso from there.

    But for your question, would you not be helped equally with a bootable USB-stick?
    Can't tell an OS by it's GUI

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freston View Post
    Why don't you make a directory called (for example) /xport and export that over NFS
    Code:
    /xport/ *(ro,nohide,root_squash,sync,no_subtree_check)
    And put all your iso's in there.
    Not a bad idea


    Quote Originally Posted by Freston View Post
    Then from the client, mount the NFS share, and `mount -o loop` the iso from there.
    Mounting the loop on the server side would be less typing (yes I'm lazy).... that's my only excuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freston View Post
    But for your question, would you not be helped equally with a bootable USB-stick?
    If it's just the boot loader and installer that I'm running, you are right. It would all be the same image as a CD.

    I'm thinking I might have a little project on my hands: a boot loader (or something like it) that will allow you to specify a URL or NFS share where a bootable image is, or the contents of that image at least. I think this is the only way I'll get to use each distros installer. I guess as long as the NFS share was read/write, you could set up an entire O.S. like this, diskless and with no PXE.

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    Linux Engineer Freston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dghouse
    I'm thinking I might have a little project on my hands: a boot loader (or something like it) that will allow you to specify a URL or NFS share where a bootable image is, or the contents of that image at least.
    You'll have to break open the installers initrd in order to do that, make the changes and close the initrd again. It's a little fiddling with cpio, doable.

    Code:
    # In working directory with ONLY the initrd.img
    gzip -dc initrd.img |cpio -id                    # open initrd
    find | cpio -H newc -o > ../initrd.new           # close initrd

    Quote Originally Posted by dghouse
    I guess as long as the NFS share was read/write, you could set up an entire O.S. like this, diskless and with no PXE.
    It might just work, the way you describe. The Linux kernel can handle root over NFS, but this is an option you need to set at compile time, a stock kernel probably wont work.

    These are pretty old, but the mechanism is still more or less the same:
    Root over NFS - Another Approach
    Root over nfs clients & server Howto.
    Can't tell an OS by it's GUI

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