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Rolling Out Unattended Debian Installations (Part 2) - page 3

Giving Clients The Boot

  • December 13, 2004
  • By Carla Schroder
At last it is time to configure the packages you want installed and other installation options. All of this sits in /usr/local/share/fai on the FAI server. This will be mounted on the installation clients as /fai. The fast way, for those who want to get a test FAI installation going in a hurry, is to copy the example scripts into the working directory:

# cp -a /usr/share/doc/fai/examples/simple/* /usr/local/share/fai/

To customize package selection, edit /usr/local/share/fai/package_config/DEFAULT. To customize disk partitioning, edit /usr/local/share/fai/disk_ config/SMALL_IDE. /usr/local/share/fai/class/DEFAULT.var contains a number of variables you'll probably want to change, such as timezone, default root password for the client PCs, and kernel modules. To start the installation, restart the client PCs. You can monitor the installation of all install clients with the faimond command. All clients check to see if this daemon is running on the install server, and report their progress. For many users, this is enough to create a usable FAI server.

Customizing FAI can be rather daunting once you start investigating all the available options. In fact its customizability is nearly unlimited, restricted only by your script-writing and editing powers. FAI uses standard Linux utilities, glued together with bales of Bourne shell and Perl scripts, and cfengine configurations. One of FAI's nicest features is classes. Classes can be used to define all sorts of different installation types: server, notebook, desktop, programmer, and even different installation components, which you can mix n match. Creating and managing classes is a whole article by itself; you can get a head start with Defining Classes.

As you can see, the initial configuration of FAI can get complicated. However, you can't beat FAI for flexibility, it's just the ticket for mixed networks that contain all different kinds of PCs. And once it's set up client installations are lightning-fast.

Resources

FAI comes with an excellent manual, which is also installed to /usr/share/doc/fai/fai-guide.html. The /usr/share/doc/fai/ directory is full of scripts and configuration examples.
Wake on LAN mini HOWTO
Notes on problematic hardware.
Home page of PXE Linux, tftp-hpa, Syslinux, and much excellent netbooting information by the master of booting operating systems, H. Peter Anvin.
FAI Faq-O-Matic
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