[et-mgmt-tools] Cobbler Live CD -- success!

Michael DeHaan mdehaan at redhat.com
Tue Jul 10 20:30:06 UTC 2007

Eureka!   I have build and tested a working Cobbler/koan LiveCD.   This 
CD allows for baremetal installation in a PXE-manner, without needing a 
PXE server setup.   So, if you have machines to install/reinstall and 
can't run PXE due to either (A) some software in the way, or (B) an evil 
network admin, this is for you.    This CD also works for any 
distribution, meaning if you have a CD defined to install profile "foo", 
and foo is one day "Fedora 7" and the next day the cobbler server changes
to Centos 5, it all works, without having to reburn the CD. 

This also works with Adam Wolf's recent "autodetect-system" patch.   So 
imagine a lab full of machines where you know the MAC addresses.  You 
stick a CD in one, it finds out the MAC address, and then installs (from 
cobbler) the proper distro for that machine.     You no longer need 
media that matches the target distribution -- one CD works for everything.

- install livecd-tools (I built my CD on Fedora 7)
    git clone  git://git.fedoraproject.org/git/hosted/livecd
    make install

- check out the latest koan and build it, as we're going to build that 
into the CD
    cd /path/to/koan

- build a LiveCD with the koan parameters of your choice
    cd /path/to/koanlive
    build.py --server=bootserver.example.com --koan="--profile=foo"   # 
takes a few minutes
    # use nautilus, k3b, or your favorite app to burn the koan-live-cd.iso

-- done

This produces a CD that, when inserted into any machine, will provision 
that machine to "foo".   You can pass in any additional arguments you 
like to koan.
By default, it will add the value you gave for "--server" and 

You'll notice that I don't have any CD images up for download.   Why?   
You'll want to pick the koan parameters yourself -- especially the 
server address -- at least
until we add some zeroconf detection to koan. 

Things that should be eventually fixed:
    The output image needs to be pared down.  Right now it's around 200 
MB.   I think that can be cut in half.
    CD should run from RAM by default, have a low grub timeout, and 
eject when done to prevent boot-looping.
          (Right now, log in with root/cobbler, and manually 
eject/reboot ... or just cycle the power and hit the drive button)
    Third party hardware support could be better (drive discovery)
    Would be nice to have koan's autodetect-system support be modified 
to also check for known IP's

Note that you should also be able to build a USB-key image of the above 
using "/usr/bin/livecd-iso-to-disk" -- which is better than burning 
coasters and also more pocketable :)

Comments/questions/ideas?  Fire away.

--Michael DeHaan

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