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Archive for April, 2010

Installing XenServer 5.5 on a remote machine (gPXE + HTTP)

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Situation

Imagine you have a remote machine several kilometers/miles away. It is running Linux and you have root access via ssh over the internet. But you can not operate the BIOS screen or any regular installers (because you have no access to keyboard-in or VGA-out). Furthermore, the machine is not configured for booting from network. The currently running Linux installation is no longer needed and you have to install XenServer.

There is a section “PXE installation” in the official manual, but that requires setting up or reconfiguring a DHCP server and a TFTP server. But what if there is no DHCP server in that network or if you have no access to it? Let’s do this with a fixed IP and just an HTTP server.

Precautions

Imagine something goes wrong: Especially if you have to drive all the way to the server or call and pay someone to reboot it, you should test everything on another machine you have physical access to.

Battle Plan: automatic installation

  1. Store the installation data on a HTTP server
  2. Provide the installer with an answer file, so it does not require user input.
  3. Modify the installation image to fix some issues regarding the use of a static IP.
  4. Setup the network bootloader
  5. Reboot the remote machine / start installation

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Written by johnLate

April 24th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized