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I want to install FAI, Kickstart, or some other tool to fully automatic install workstations from a server. Now I can't figure out if these tools are just meant to ...
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  1. #1
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    Does FAI or Kickstart just install OS or entire image?


    I want to install FAI, Kickstart, or some other tool to fully automatic install workstations from a server. Now I can't figure out if these tools are just meant to install the OS or if it is also possible to dump a complete linux clone onto the workstations. Cause, I do not want to install various 3rd party software on each and every workstation independently.
    Is there a difference (w.r.t. this topic) between FAI and Kickstart? And if these tools are not capable of installing a full clone: does a tool exists which can do the job? So the nodes can be fully installed via the network (without having to use any boot CDs)?

    I appreciate the help!!

  2. #2
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    May 2011
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    Hi,

    I have never used FAI, but I'm familiar with the Kickstart method.

    Which Linux distro are you talking about?

    I do automatic network installs for all of my Red Hat/CentOS/Fedora servers/workstations using Kickstart and it is fast, very customizable and painless (once I got the kinks worked out). Kickstart involves a combination of tools, in reality:

    On the kickstart server, I have configured:
    DHCP Server - assigns IP address to clients
    TFTP Server - provides initial boot environment to clients
    HTTP Server - provides software repository used during install

    For a network-based install, you can use NFS or FTP as your software repo, too.

    The clients need to have PXE/Network boot capability (configurable in the BIOS), though I use rom-o-matic.com with some older hardware. The clients get their ip address, load the pxeboot image, then are presented with my custom install menu, where you can select what to install. These menu items are merely pointers to kickstart files, which are the most important part. I have a kickstart file for each type of install I need; a Fedora 15 workstation, or a CentOS 5 fileserver, for example. In the kickstart file itself, you have complete control over what packages are installed. If you find certain packages are installed anyway, you can have a postinstall section of the kickstart file rip those packages back out. Similarly, you can install additional packages of your own in this way too (you just need to provide the path to the software repo).

    So kickstart does not install a static "image" per se, but if you use the same kickstart file for multiple installs, then for all intents and purposes, those installs will be identical.

    If you truly want clone capability, check out Clonezilla, though I have no idea about its network capability.

    hth

  3. #3
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    Jun 2011
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    tnx

    Hi,
    Thanks for the info. I am using Ubuntu, btw. What is vital for me is to have the capability to automatically install the OS AND other software/packages. If only the OS gets installed and I have to install all software manually, that would be highly undesirable.
    I understand from your post that it is possible to add packages so that is very good.

    Does anyone know the fundamental difference between Kickstart and FAI?

    -Danny

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