[K12OSN] Installing Linux Options

Petre Scheie petre at maltzen.net
Thu Feb 17 22:14:07 UTC 2005

Jim Kronebusch wrote:
>>I have a small class that is essentially our student tech 
>>crew that supports computers on our campus.  I would like to 
>>have them all experience installing K12KTSP, or some flavor 
>>of Linux.  I'm wondering, is the only way to do this by 
>>making install disks for each of them, or is there a way to 
>>install Linux over the network that will be easy enough to 
>>have a whole class installing at the same time?  We're 
>>talking about 14 students/computers.  
> I am not the most familiar with this setup and have never done it myself
> but I do know it can be done.  From what I understand you just need to
> put the iso's on a server and nfs export the directory containing them.
> Then boot from a linux boot disk and choose network install instead of
> from a CD.  The you can point to the ip and share of the nfs export with
> something like "xxx.xxx.xxx:/isoexport" and the installation will
> progress from there.  This is also nice since you do not have to swap
> out cd's during the install and will have the ability to rsync the iso's
> to new updates instead of having to download full new iso's.  
> If that isn't enough to get you going just ask some more questions out
> here along that line and I am sure someone will be able to walk you
> through it.

Just to fill in some details to what Jim said:

-If you have the disks handy but not the ISOs, you can create the ISO 
files on the server that will NFS-export them by using dd:

dd if=/dev/cdrom of=/iso_files/disk1.iso

Repeat for each CD; be sure to change the name of each ISO.  I don't 
know if the name of the ISO file matters, but I always use the name or 
the original ISO files.

-Export the directory with the files:

exportfs :/iso_files

-Boot the server-to-be from the first CD with the askmethod parameter:

boot: linux askmethod

Shortly into the installation process, the installer will ask what 
method you want to use, and you choose NFS and point it at the machine 
with the ISO images.  I think at this point you can remove the CD and 
pass it on to the next student (if necessary).

Here's one really cool thing (and the reason I posted this message): I 
was using this method recently on a box with an crummy old ISA video 
card (this was not an LTSP server, but I like the extras that Eric 
bundles).  It was just going to be a headless web server.  Anyway, the 
first few screens, before we got to the NFS part, were all just 
text/menu types, not GUI, as expected.  But after I pointed it at the 
NFS server, I got a message saying something to the effect of "Okay, I 
found the installation disks.  If you want to watch the rest of the 
installation, go to another machine and run vncviewer and point it at 
port xxx on this machine", which I did, and amazingly, it was the GUI 
installation that came up in the vncviewer.  This was really handy 
because the installation was happening in my basement, but this allowed 
me to go back upstairs and tend to other things.  I could check in on 
the installation by just firing up vncviewer on an upstairs machine.

I thought it was really cool.  Course, I don't get out much.


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