ivoras’ FreeBSD blog

May 11, 2008

finstall alpha4

Filed under: FreeBSD — Tags: , , , — ivoras @ 9:35 pm

Here’s another build of finstall, alpha4. The most important change this time is native support for remote / headless installs via systoold network daemon.

This enables headless installs of FreeBSD in the following fashion:

  1. Insert the CD with the finstall in the server (obviously, the server needs to have a CD/DVD reader; USB ones are mostly fine). The server can be headless, i.e. without a monitor, a keyboard or a mouse.
  2. Connect the server to a LAN. No remote-network hops (routing) are allowed since UDP broadcasts are used to locate the headless nodes. Boot off the finstall CD.
  3. On another machine (one that has monitor+keyboard+mouse or equivalent X11 devices) start the installer front-end.
  4. In the front-end, opt to connect to a remote finstall node, choose the one you want. At this point you can see boot-time dmesg data from the nodes so you can locate the right one in case there are many of them.
  5. Proceed to use the front-end GUI just like it was a local install.
  6. Reboot, configure, use the server, etc.

As described, the primary usage for this is to setup headless servers.

PXE is supported in theory, but not tried. The idea is that, since the whole finstall setup is actually a live FreeBSD system, PXE can be configured manually once the CD is booted somewhere (possibly on a virtual machine), and remote systems can be booted from this CD-based file system, then installed as if they are booted locally. This is experimental and untried.

This mode of installation has many side-effect uses, such as scripting the remote install, etc.

More about this and other features of finstall will be presented on BSDCan 2008.

Update: The original ISO image posted above had a trivial but unfortunate bug. Download the new ISO image with MD5 fingerprint a9eebbdc546565a9eb9c6622bb948d75.


  1. Thanks for posting an updated ISO. Giving it a try now..

    Comment by Murray Stokely — May 12, 2008 @ 7:12 am

  2. That looks awesome; great feature!

    Comment by Ceri Davies — May 12, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  3. [...] daemon. This enables headless installs of FreeBSD in the following fashion: Insert the CD with the fhttp://blogs.freebsdish.org/ivoras/2008/05/11/finstall-alpha4/Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Jan 2006 18:50 UTC, submitted by anonymous OS NewsLinuxHelp [...]

    Pingback by pxe server — May 13, 2008 @ 8:37 am

  4. [...] es un livecd de FreeBSD, se puede configurar a mano una vez iniciado el sistema. En definitiva, aqu

    Pingback by » Finstall alpha-4 TooManySecrets HeadQuarters: FreeBSD, BSD, GNU/Linux, y dem — May 20, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  5. Good to see the FreeBSD amde easier to install. I’m still having basic trouble with cdwriter permissions and ubprinter support. Any chance of this being configured in the installer?

    Comment by Mr Biscuit — May 26, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  6. I don’t know about any problems with cdwriter permissions (since I occasionally burn CDs from FreeBSD without problems) so maybe you could write to stable/at/freebsd.org about your problems and see if there’s a solution. If you mean “usb printer” support then no, not for the forseeable future.

    Comment by ivoras — May 26, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  7. [...] m

    Pingback by grUNIX — June 11, 2008 @ 11:51 am

  8. Howdy,

    I’ve tested your installer, but i can’t start finstall,

    by the boot i got following error:

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “systoold.py”, line 166, in
    File “systoold.py”, line 115, in TryBroadcastConfig
    if ‘UP’ in nics[nic]['flags_str'] and ‘RUNNING’ in nics[nic]['flags_str'] and nics[nic]['status'] == ‘active’ and not ‘inet’ in nics[nic]:
    KeyError: ‘status’

    when i start X, and run finstall i get
    Cannot contact SysToolD server on http://localhost:1025. Try a different server.

    Any Idea?

    Thanks for all this work here.

    Comment by martin — June 11, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  9. I don’t know what could result in such situation – do you have any network interfaces on the machine? If you know Python you might try adding print repr(nics) above the loop with the error to inspect the contents of the nics array.

    Comment by ivoras — June 11, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  10. Air Jordan 9
    Air Jordan 10

    Comment by haley — May 20, 2009 @ 3:50 am

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