How to install Fedora w/o physical access to target machine?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at
Fri Jun 8 16:44:44 UTC 2007

Alan Cox wrote:
>>> How insane do you feel ?
>> A little, maybe. But I described a real situation.
>>> There are ways to do this but they are not the normal ways to do the
>>> install although they work (usually ;))
>> Could you outline some ways you mentioned?
> The tools like rpm support a --root so that you can install them into a
> subtree (the installer uses this for one), so given some disk partitions
> you can format them, mount them and install packages, set up the network
> scripts etc and chroot into it to test and complete the job.
> Another approach is to build the actual needed system image on another
> box locally and simply rsync it to remote disk and the switch to booting
> that disk.

The latter is close to the procedure you would need for a backup/restore 
operation so its a good idea to understand even if it isn't your 
preferred way to roll out new systems.  (Swappable drives are a little 
nicer but you may not have them everywhere...).  You have to make sure 
that the disk driver for the destination machine's root partition is the 
same as the source or build an initrd that has the needed modules. 
After the copy, you have to fix the copied /etc/inittab to mount the new 
partitions if any labels or partition names are different, make the 
grub/grub.conf entry in your new boot partition refer to the correct 
root location, and remove or correct the HWADDR entries in the 
/etc/sysconfig/ifcfg-eth? files along with fixing the IP addresses and 
gateways for all the interfaces you want to start up automatically (very 
important if you are working remotely...). And you may want to change 
the hostname in /etc/sysconfig/network if the target name is different 
from the copied source.

If you have physical access to the box you can fix mistakes in any of 
these changes after the fact by booting the install CD (USB would work 
too) in rescue mode.  It it is completely remote, you might want to do a 
practice run under VMware to make sure you can get it right the first 
time.  The HWADDR thing can be a killer when the network is your only 

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at

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