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.

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