FOG – Debian Netboot

When I first started out here they were using Altiris for their imaging system.  It didn’t work very well in my opinion and its expensive.  I quickly switched an an open source solution called FOG.  Fog works great for imaging Windows machines and can do other operating systems via sector by sector.  The NTFS filesystem method is pretty fast but sector by sector is SLOW so I only use it on small media like the 1GB flash memory in the thin clients I have running slax.  For full blow Linux desktops I use Debian via netboot with a pre-seed script and a local apt repository.  This works pretty well and then isn’t hardware dependent.  The first step to doing that is adding a menu item to FOG and making the Debian netboot installer accessible.

So the first thing we need to do is get the netboot image from debain and extract it to the proper location.  FOG uses tftp server and serves out of /tftpboot.  So on the fog server move to that directory, download the tar file and extract it.

cd /tftpboot
wget http://ftp.nl.debian.org/debian/dists/squeeze/main/installer-i386/current/images/netboot/netboot.tar.gz
mkdir debian
tar -xvf netboot.tar.gz -C /tftpboot/debian

Then you just need to edit the fog menu.  You don’t want to edit the file manually because then if changes are mad from the web interface it will erase them.  For reference the file is located at /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default You will instead want to log into FOG and click on the blue circle with and “i” in it (the about menu).  Then along the left click on PXE Boot Menu.  Click on the advanced Configuration options and through ajax you will see a text box for free form entries.  You can add whatever you want.  I have DSL, TinyCore with and without and NFS share, and Several Preeseed Debian Installers.  For the basic Debian above you will want an entry similar to this:

Label debian_lenny_i386_install
        MENU PASSWD $1$QpQRa/$KERgkbOAalXmPvPGvFnVL1
    kernel debian/debian-installer/i386/linux
        append vga=normal initrd=debian/debian-installer/i386/initrd.gz

I almost forgot the above MENU PASSWD is generated by the command: grub-md5-crypt.  You can omit that line if you want anybody to be able to use that boot entry.

Then assuming your FOG dhcp server was already set to advertise the FOG server PXE boot information you should be able to boot directly to the Debian net installer without any media.  I will add posts to continue on this subject and show how to create a pre-seed script and call a post pre-seed script to execute additional functions such as adding linux to a windows domain etc.

1 ping

  1. Pre-Seeding your PXE Boot Debian Installer » Adrenlinerush's Blog says:

    [...] So you see in the append there needs to be some additional options including the answer file you created.  More information on setting up the boot entry in FOG can be found in this previous post: http://blog.adrenlinerush.net/?p=189 [...]

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