Kickstart support info

Henning Sprang henning.sprang at
Tue Apr 12 18:17:28 CDT 2005

Hy Marc,

On Apr 12, 2005 11:36 PM, Marc MERLIN <marc at> wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 12, 2005 at 09:09:08AM +0200, Henning Sprang wrote:
> > I use FAI - for this, which is
> > a tool made for fully automatic installation of Debian based distros
> I have looked at this too, but from what I heard and read, this looked a bit
> more like system-imager and wasn't entirely what I was looking for.
> [...]
> > In case there are any troubles, there's a small but responsive
> > community around FAI with experiences in using FAI in environments
> > from home use over medium to large corporate and scientific networks
> > to installation of clusters with hundreds of machines which can help
> > in a lot of cases.
> That's the major point: FAI works better when all the clients are the same.
> Mine aren't really, and having an installer that can detect as much as
> possible at install time and adjust accordingly.
> So the d-i is a better option for what I need

Please don't see this as I want to tell you you're not the one knowing
best what's good for you, but I want to reply to some things I see FAI
misunderstood above, maybe even the FAI website is somewhat misleading
because it shows a lot information about cluster installation, but:

FAI is not a system-imager style of autoinstaller at all, just because
it can be used for cluster installation.

Actually, where I work we use FAI to install 60 systems, over 40 of
them VMware, and with around 30 different configurations (even a
couple of specialities for single hosts), with Debian woody, but all
from within one config space, no system-images or anything like that
involved at all. At home, I even installl Debian and Ubuntu from
within the same config space.

FAI is basically a collection of shell scripts, running in a root file
system mounted via NFS, after the system has booted from PXE-boot or
floppy, assigning the install client it is running on to several
classes based on a multitude of attributes from hostname over disk
size and other hardware information like graphics card and other
things - basically it can use any kind of information gathered by any
shell/perl script, discover and kudzu to assign classes and comes with
a number of examples making use of this information and doing some
common things based on theses discoverings.
Then, based on this class assignment, FAI partitions and formats the
harddisk, installs packages, and runs any script (BASH, Perl, cfengine
is supported by default) you define to be belonging to that class, and
copies specific files on the harddisk of the install target,
everything without any manual interaction.

The motto of FAI is: "plan your installation and FAI installs your
plan" - So, if you'd like to, you can configure FAI so it assigns the
class FILESERVER or THINCLIENT just based on size of the disk found in
the client at install time, and let it install any packages need by
one of these, install packages, copy config files, edit config files
to adjust anything that might be different on an indivindual machine
or whatever you can imagine. It is extremly flexible and all that
doesn't need to be touched manually when configured once. Only if you
wanted, you even _could_ for example, show an interactive question
while installation, just in case you might want to manually decide if
an install client should be assigned to the class "FULL_DESKTOP" or

There are other features upcoming since the newest and previous
release, like debconf preseeding, option to put the whole config space
and any packages needed by the classes on a bootable cd for
non-network installation (fai-cd) , as well as possibility to do not
only installations, but also system updates that do anything classes
can do described above without full reinstallation. One guy, Holger
Levsen is doing some things to use FAI inside d-i for some tasks, too,
and vice versa, because one can do some things the other can't, but I
am not deeply enough involved with that to tell details about...

Anyhow, if you're accustomed to kickstart and using a graphical
frontend, FAI might be not intuitive enough or too much to learn, i
just wanted to give better information because i felt there wa a
misconception of a tool I find very nice and feel it has what I
understood you need.


Henning Sprang
jabber: henning at

More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list