[CentOS] best practice: how to setup a central "network installation server"?

Simon Billis simon at houxou.com
Thu Feb 18 11:10:39 UTC 2010

Hi Rudi,

Rudi Ahlers sent a missive on 2010-02-18:

> Hi,
> I want to setup a central installation server, but haven't done this 
> before, so I want to find out what would be best practices for this?
> The server I have already runs as a central repo, which is updated 
> from one or our local centos mirrors, and the other CentOS servers 
> (both i386 & x64), as well as CentOS VPS's get their updates from this
> But, now I want to allow a client to perform a quick network 
> installation, using either a netbood CD, or preferably with the 
> server's network bootrom. I understand this can be done with bootp, or 
> am I on the wrong track?
> the server is a general file server and also acts as our in-office 
> internet gateway, and has Webmin installed for convenience sake. I 
> don't know if this is of any use?
> Generally we would be (re)installing CentOS servers & desktops, but I 
> guess it could be useful for other distro's like Fedora Core / Debian 
> / FreeBSD? / etc. What would be a good option to go for, or could 
> someone point me to a good documentation? Doing a google search I 
> found a lot of instructions on how to perform a network installation 
> on the client PC's, but not how to configure the server. Maybe I used 
> the wrong key words?

I'm not suggesting that this is "best practice" but this works in my
environment for unattended installations or reinstallations.

1) The first thing that I did to get this to work was to have a web server
hold the distribution of Centos needed. This was accessible to the servers
that I was building using a boot CD and specifying network install.
2) I then automated this installation using kickstart files also held on the
web server.
3) I then setup a PXE boot server using tftpd and configured the server to
be built to boot via PXE (using dhcp options to point to the correct pxe
boot server and boot file) and then to connect to web server to built
4) I also use koan on existing systems to enable me to rebuild them
remotely. Using koan I am able to reboot the machine and it will then pxe
boot (without the need to have bios set) and complete the installation.

I hope that this points you in the right direction.



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