PXE Booting Ubuntu from WDS (Windows Deployment Solutions)

Chadley Wilson chadleyw at pinnacle.co.za
Thu Feb 4 06:20:00 UTC 2010

> On 02/03/2010 12:19 AM, Chadley Wilson wrote:
> > Thank you for some new links, I have my PXE working, it boots Linux,
> > Windows and freedos.
> >
> > The problem I am faced with presently is that the only way the Ubuntu
> > installer runs - is in text mode.
> Why is this a problem?

Hi Clifford,
With respect I need to clarify my situation, I hope this helps you understand, I am not trying to be rude in anyway so please hear me out.

You are an American, I am South African. So please understand that there are some very different aspects to your logic and mine. The majority of your country speaks the same language at home and at work.  In my country you are lucky if you meet someone whos first language is English. Let me explain. In our country we have 11 official languages. Our government sees no reason why we must operate in English as a standard. Our people are very poor and most of them uneducated. So trying to get a message across to someone who speaks a completely different language is very hard. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get a simple computing concept across to a person who will probably never own a PC? Let alone play with a variation of 20 operating systems. Trust me when I say I need a gui installer.
I have given training to the staff weekly for the past few years. Yet we still get machines back with incorrect partitioning. This is only on Ubuntu. With Opensuse and  Redhat based distros we don't have this problem. The logical explanation is that there is a point and click graphic installer and I also know I am right because I asked them and they told me the text mode is too difficult.
I know that to you and I it seems pathetic. But unfortunately my friend TIA (this is Africa).

> The partition setup can be modified with ease with the text mode installer
> too but you shouldn't have to, if you do it right.
I can do it with ease, but as stated the staff can't...

As you've pointed out,
> kickstart is an option, though a poor one because kickstart isn't 100%
> supported in Ubuntu. The preferred scripted installation method in
> Debian/Ubuntu is "preseed". It's supposedly more powerful, though I've

I could not for the life of me figure out how to pass the preseed config file to the PXE kernel... :(

> If you can bring yourself to run Linux for the deployment server, you can do
> even better by running Cobbler <https://fedorahosted.org/cobbler/>. There
> is nothing like it in the Debian/Ubuntu world that I know of. (Speak up if you
> know of something like this, please.) The best way to build your kickstart file
> in Red Hat and derivatives is to do a manual installation and look in
> /root/anaconda-ks.cfg. You can use that as a template to modify. Better yet,
> you can run the GUI Kickstart Configurator (yum install
> system-config-kickstart) and generate a kickstart file with as much or as little
> detail as you like. If you're using Cobbler, you can use that kickstart file as the
> basis of the various Cobbler kickstart templates.

Never heard of cobbler but will definitely check it out.

> I'm doing the opposite of what you're doing. I'm using a Fedora server to
> deploy Fedora, CentOS, and Windows machines. For the first two, I'm using
> Cobbler. For Windows, I'm using Unattended
> <http://unattended.sourceforge.net/>. Cobbler and Unattended aren't
> integrated so they're two completely different things to manage.
I am using an my existing firewall/proxy box running Opensuse 10.2 and it  hosts FTP for the installations sources for 30 odd Distro's.  We allow our clients to pick the distro of their choice.

> > Now I have some idea of where to start, It is just not very clear
> > right now. I need to figure out what the parameters are that I must
> > pass to the default install kernel... The problem is that the Ubuntu
> > Kernel doesn't support all the options that other kernels do... Does
> > anyone here know what all the parameters are that the default install
> > kernel for Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic will support? Any ideas?
> I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish with these kernel
> options.

The kernel command line from my default PXE has an append line, This append line allows one to specify options. Like ks=xxxx in redhat, or install=xxxx in suse. I am looking for a list of the options that the Ubuntu kernel support so that I can work out what my options are for staging the installations.
For example I would still like to try preseed, but the PXE kernel ignores all parameters that I have tried. Probably because I don't know what options I have to work with.

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