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



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
   make

- 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 "--replace-self".

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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