[Beowulf] small distro for PXE boot, autostarts sshd?

Tim Cutts tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Fri Feb 27 06:32:24 EST 2009

On 27 Feb 2009, at 10:17 am, stephen mulcahy wrote:

> David Mathog wrote:
>> There are a million distros, and many "small" distros, but these  
>> seem to
>> be optimized for desktop use.  Surely there are a few out there  
>> that can
>> do the following:
>> 1.  pxe boot (easily)
>> 2.  autostart sshd, allowing root ssh login (there is no
>>  keyboard on the remote machine).
>> 3.  contains smartmontools, parted, fdisk, etc., but not any  
>> desktop pieces.
> Hi David,
> +1 on what others have said about FAI if you're using Debian or  
> Ubuntu (afaik, at least Ubuntu has some support now for using Red  
> Hat's kickstart style approach to automatic installation also but it  
> may not be as full featured as on RPM based distributions).

Both Debian and Ubuntu can do what is known as a "pre-seeding"  
install, which is very similar to kickstart.  You basically supply a  
URL on the commandline to download a file of pre-supplied answers to  
all the questions the debian installer is going to ask.  It works,  
I've used it in the past, but my main problems with it are:

1)  It's hard to debug when it goes wrong (having the ssh server in a  
FAI install is a godsend)

2)  FAI is more flexible, because you're basically running a full  
Debian install NFS root, which you can modify to do absolutely  
anything you want, including configuring more complex stuff that just  
twiddling a few debconf settings is not going to cover.

3)  It's quite a lot slower than FAI (I think this is because in FAI  
most of the base packages are installed simply by unpacking a tarball,  
whereas preseeding really does run the full install process)


 The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is operated by Genome Research 
 Limited, a charity registered in England with number 1021457 and a 
 company registered in England with number 2742969, whose registered 
 office is 215 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE. 
Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit http://www.beowulf.org/mailman/listinfo/beowulf

This message has been scanned for viruses and
dangerous content by MailScanner, and is
believed to be clean.

More information about the Beowulf mailing list