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Strom Carlson

Installing Linux remotely

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I've got a box in a friend's colo rack on the other side of town that's fairly hosed, although I still have shell access to it, and I'd like to wipe the slate clean and start over. Is there any way to install a fresh copy of Linux without having physical access to the box, or am I better off waiting till Monday and throwing a CD into it?

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If you have access to another box on his network, you might be able to set up PXE and have the hosed box boot off the network.

/me looks throught the Linux-HOWTOs....Found one!

http://cui.unige.ch/info/pc/remote-boot/howto.html

Well, I could also have it boot off of a tftp server on another box I have in colo...is it possible to boot off a tftp server and then run the install remotely?

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If you have access to another box on his network, you might be able to set up PXE and have the hosed box boot off the network.

/me looks throught the Linux-HOWTOs....Found one!

http://cui.unige.ch/info/pc/remote-boot/howto.html

Well, I could also have it boot off of a tftp server on another box I have in colo...is it possible to boot off a tftp server and then run the install remotely?

theres no way to install without having physical access to the machine. you are gonna have to touch it no matter how you install, diskless, cdrom, any way.

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Well, I could also have it boot off of a tftp server on another box I have in colo...is it possible to boot off a tftp server and then run the install remotely?

theres no way to install without having physical access to the machine. you are gonna have to touch it no matter how you install, diskless, cdrom, any way.

Pfftttp.. Strom, whats the "hosed" server currently running? I've "remotely installed" gentoo several times without need for physical access. Serial console _helps_ but it's 100% nessesary.

This is exactly how we got the Telephreak VPS servers under gentoo. We had theplanet (where it's hosted) to load Redhate. Once redhate is loaded, we build gentoo within the chroot on the secondary drive. If you don't have a secondary drive, you can build it in swap (if you have enough room). Then, after gentoo is built, we switch the boot order to boot off the secondary drive (or swap). If building off swap, you'd probably want to nuke your old install, and cp the gentoo install out of swap.

With a secondary drive, its less steps..

It's completely possible if going from a linux installation to another installation.

Hope this helps in some way.

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If you had one of them Cyclades Alterpath, or any other sort of console server then you would be able to do this with a network booting install, however unfortunaltley unless you have a way to phyiscally interact with the machine (even remotley physically interacting by means of a network console server), you will be unable to reinstall the OS. You aren't able to just clean up the install you have?

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One word. debtakeover. What is it you have on the box, and what is that you want to install?

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if you had a gentoo cd in there, you could install ovver ssh

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if you had a gentoo cd in there, you could install ovver ssh

Again, it sounds like he already has a crippled version of linux already installed. If the installed OS has "chroot" (and more than likely does), then you can build gentoo within a chroot env. under the currently installed/running OS.

Think of it this way, you don't _have_ to use the Gentoo CD to install gentoo. All the CD is giving you

a way to boot the system, format the drives and install within a "chroot" env. You could just as easily put a KNOPPIX CD in, and use that as your boot CD and install Gentoo.

With this in mind, under the currently installed OS (Redhat, Slackware, whatever as long as it's linux) you can build your "new" Gentoo enviroment (on a extra disk or within swap). I've done this 6 or so times. No need for a CD, console (serial console does help!), physical access. I converted a pre-installed Redhate server in Texas (I'm in Florida) to Gentoo using exactly this method. The rough steps are...

1. Login under Redhate or whatever.

2. Clean a partition or hard drive .. If you don't have a spare drive, kill all non-essental processes and

turn off swap. Format the drive/swap. Mount the partition....

3. Download the Gentoo stage file of your choice, and untar it to the now clean partition/drive.

4. chroot into the env... setup everything (network, needed utilities, fstab, kernel, etc).

5. Once setup the way you want, exit the chroot env.

6. Point grub/lilo to boot off the drive/partition you've installed Gentoo in. You might be able to do this within the chroot. I've always done it outside to get the system up.

Now, if you want don't want Gentoo, you could probably still do it. For example, let say you wanted to go from Redhate to Slackware - you conld install a base system on a spare drive lying around the house (or with in a small partition). Once Slackware is installed, "tar -jcvpf" it and upload it to the server. Instead of untar'ing a stage file (step 3) of gentoo, untar you're premade slackware install. I've not attempted this, but I cant see why it wouldnt work.

I use this method to convert system from XYZ based linux to Gentoo. This method also prevents any downtime. The old system stays up until you're ready to boot into the "new" system.

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if you had a gentoo cd in there, you could install ovver ssh

Yes. That is possible. I had to do that once with a friend. It was kind of a pain, but in the end worked.

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Thats what good friends are for then, and sitting through a gentoo install for someone.... thats one hell of a friend.

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i always do remote gentoo installs.

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I've got a box in a friend's colo rack on the other side of town that's fairly hosed, although I still have shell access to it, and I'd like to wipe the slate clean and start over.  Is there any way to install a fresh copy of Linux without having physical access to the box, or am I better off waiting till Monday and throwing a CD into it?

Strom,

As mentioned, physical access isn't necessary. I prefer Gentoo myself, but there are other options.

Gentoo has a site for doing alternative installations...: http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/altinstall.xml

I've also seen a few others, for example, installing Debian...: http://www.underhanded.org/papers/debian-c.../remotedeb.html

And, if you want to go to FreeBSD, here's another option...: http://www.daemonology.net/depenguinator

Obviously, the conventions in some of these documents are directly applicable to other distributions. Your mileage may vary a bit.

Good luck! If you need help, give me a shout.

Regards,

John

Edited by John
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