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Network Install PXE/BootP/TFTP

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Old Unix and Linux 06-06-2004
kwalick kwalick is offline
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Network Install PXE/BootP/TFTP

Im trying to help my professor at school, were trying to setup a linux server, that is configured with bootp/tftp/PXE. the client computer NICs have support to boot off PXE. What we would like to do is if a client computer does not have an OS, it would boot off the server, and display a menu to the end user, the menu will display a list of Operating Systems to install on the local system, including Slackware, Redhat, Mandrake, Freebsd, Windows 2000, etc. The end user just has to pick one and it will bring up the installation of that OS on the local computer and will get all the files that it needs to install from the file server, the file server will be running samba, nfs, ftp, httpd. How would i go about setting this type of envroment up. thankyou =)
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Old Unix and Linux 06-08-2004
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TioTony TioTony is offline Forum Advisor  
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Trying to explain it all in a forum post is going to be very difficult but I will try to get you going in the write direction and give you some pointers.

First, understand how kickstart works. Redhat and other sites have plenty of docs on this subject.

Make sure you don't have a competing dhcp/bootp server on that segment of the network. If you do, you will never be able to guarantee your PXE clients get an address and boot from your server.

If you install RedHat, /root/anaconda-ks.cfg is a complete kickstart file based on the system you just installed. It's a helpful starting point

Once you have mastered that stuff, figure out how dhcp and tftp work. Not too difficult. I can't remember off the top of my head but certain tftp programs work better then others. Look at the PXE docs to see what is recommended.

H. Peter Anvin (spelling?) - you know the guy who's name pops up when ever you start linux - has some pretty detailed docs on the vmlinux and initrd stuff. I think there is a link off kernel.org. He also has a home page somewhere with tons of usefull stuff on building boot images (you know, for your PXE clients). Just search for his name.

At this point you should be ready to put all the pieces together. This is the hardest part. You have to build some images and serve them up. Basically you create a conf file that looks at the incoming DHCP/bootp request, decides if it should server out a menu or just grant an address, then "pushes" the image to the client.

I know this is not a step by step procedure but that would be pages and pages of material. Get started and when you hit a roadblock just post it and someone will be able to help you. There is a lot of trial and error in setting up a PXE server, but that is how you learn.
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