Monday, November 7, 2011

Network Installation of openSUSE

This will be my main blog entry discussing the best practices (mine anyway) on setting up a network installation server.

What is the Motivation for this setup?

1) Local Area Networks (LANs) are ubiquitous... even in homes where, chances are, you have a modem to the Internet and next to it is a wireless/ethernet router for multiple wifi and ethernet capable devices (PCs, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets etc) to connect and surf the web.

2) If you are a Linux/OSS enthusiast, you would be constantly downloading the latest ISOs from the web, burning them onto a DVDs and installing them on physical/virtual machines. This is time/resource intensive... time to download, time to burn a DVD, time/money spent on blank DVDs etc. Of course, if you install openSUSE on virtual machines, you avoid the DVD part of the process but you would still have lots of ISOs on your filesystem... if you have a classroom of 20 machines... well, you get the idea.

3) Almost all PCs and Laptops these days have an ethernet port and are capable of booting up from the network (ie PXE-boot). This means you physically power them on, tell it to go into PXE-boot mode and it will go onto the network and seek out an installation server to download and install the openSUSE binaries.

4) This is an efficient way to install openSUSE onto both physical and virtual machines in a LAN environment where there is only one central place for your software binaries.


i) You have a LAN environment connecting a few machines via the network cable. Although booting from wifi is possible but it is out of the scope of this discussion.

ii) You have a physical machine (preferably*) with openSUSE installed and this will be the designated network installation server.
*It is possible to set this up on a virtual machine but you need to ensure it is connected to the physical LAN in a Bridge networking mode and not the usual NAT networking mode for typical virtual machines.

3 Simple^ Steps to Success:
^Simple - it will become more simple as you do this more frequently.

Step 1: Install and configure Apache2 webserver to host and distribute openSUSE binaries.
Please refer to my other blog entry on this subject - Using Apache2 to deploy & maintain SUSE

Step 2: Install and configure tftpboot server to enable initial boot of target machines over the network.
Please refer to my other blog entry on this subject - Install and configure TFTP server for PXE boot environment

Step 3: Install and configure dhcpd server to provide an IP address for target machines and redirect them to the tftpboot server.
Please refer to my other blog entry on this subject - Install and configure DHCP server

Step 4: On the target physical machines, on boot and depending on the BIOS, activate the boot from LAN option and watch it get an IP address from the Installation Server (via Step 3), followed by connecting to the TFTP server and presenting an installation menu (via Step 2). Enter the choice of OS to install and your installation will commence over the LAN (via Step 1).

Additional points of note:

a) Everything discussed here applies to SLES, SLED and openSUSE. The steps documented are based on openSUSE 11.x and should work on older versions and even the enterprise editions of SUSE.

b) Software installation (apache2, tftpboot, syslinux, dhcpd etc) assumes your SLE or openSUSE server have access to their respective binaries, either in DVD (also ISO) or software repository on the web.



1 comment:

  1. I want to install network on my OpenSUSE, thanks already to guide how to install.