[AusNOG] PXE boot with custom on the fly builds

Bradley Falzon brad at teambrad.net
Thu Oct 28 11:23:50 EST 2010

(On what Peter just said, I still prefer cfengine (C vs Python) - but
Puppet and Chef have both had some pretty good reviews).

The tools will most likely depend on which OS you are trying to
install. I haven't personally used a tool that covers both Linux and
Windows (with the exception of VMWare below), but I'm sure a
commercial package exists that does it well.

If you were looking at deployment strategies specifically for Red Hat
Enterprise or its derivates (CentOS etc), you would be looking for
Kick Start guides. As for Windows, you could deploy a RIS/WDS (Remote
Installation Services or Windows Deployment Strategies) type install.

But ultimately, you could shortcut a lot of this using VMWare vSphere
Clone tools (Supports Windows and Linux). We tested it briefly with
CentOS, and VMWare allowed us to clone an template, then during
deployment from within VMWare, we are asked which IP to configure the
guest with. This obviously requires VMWare and it's infrastructure
(VirtualCentre Server and Client).

As for configuration after deployment, you're best to either write a
script if it's only small changes, or go ahead and deploy some
Configuration Management software, such as cfengine (allegedly will
support Windows as well).

If you already have, and are looking at deploying on, a virtualised
environment, look at those cloning / imaging solutions first. If
you're using VMWare, your off to a good start, and a few quick
'./bringUpToScratch.pl' scripts should cover you for quick a dirty
updates - other than that, VMWare Cloning tools (for the initial
deployment) and cfengine (for configuration) is the path we personally
are going down.

If you don't have a virtualised infrastructure, then it will most
likely depend on the OS you are installing. 'Networking Ghosting' is
an alternative, but I never liked needing to manage so many images
(kick start files document themselves, images often don't).

Other points to note is that you might want to also deploy Centralised
Authentication, off LDAP or similar to deal with your username and
password issues (using cfengine to configure that).

Depending on your hardware as well, the Cisco UCS Blade Server support
Boot and SAN (http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/unified_computing/ucs/sw/b/os/linux/install/RHEL-install.html#wp1052956)
so I'm sure other Blades infrastructure supports similar methods.

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 9:40 AM, Karl Kloppenborg <karl at karltec.net> wrote:
> Hi Noggers,
> Even though this isn't exactly a network related question, I was
> wondering...
> Have any of you had experience with using PXE to image linux and or windows
> servers on the fly but also including parameters like root / admin password
> + trigger latest updates + IP assignment ?
> I am thinking of setting up another little lab to try and test out doing a
> PXE imaging environment for bettering the deployment of servers and what
> not.
> Just want to know some "best practice" stuff with it.
> Cheers!
> Karl Kloppenborg
> _______________________________________________
> AusNOG mailing list
> AusNOG at lists.ausnog.net
> http://lists.ausnog.net/mailman/listinfo/ausnog

Bradley Falzon
brad at teambrad.net

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