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Re: Vision of new installation method using webserver

Christoph Lameter <clameter@waterf.org> writes:

> Since we were talking about including a web-server in the base system here
> some thoughts.

The base system and the rescue floppy are different entities. The base
system is about 6MB gzipped, whereas the rescue disk has a root.bin of
about 600kB and contains the kernel without the modules (they are on
the driver disk).

> Lets say I have a new machine fine tuned by the dealer (who put 95 or
> something else we dont need on it) in front of me. I'd like to do the
> following

You will need a very good dealer in order to rely on him on such
details. My experience suggests that one cannot rely on this.

> 1. Insert Floppy disk and boot
>    A) The installation disk will detect frequently used ethernet
> boards

Two choices: The drivers are modules; or they aren't.

In the first case you need a script that calls modprobe again and
again with a set of arguments that don't hang the machine. Remember:
The modules don't do autoprobing. However this is no problem for PCI
network adapters.

Second case: You have to compile all drivers for your network adapters
into the kernel. If this is intended to be a generic solution, this
equals to all network adapter drivers. This probably won't fit on the
rescue disk.

>       and configures an IP address obtained using BOOTP or DHCP. I can
>       then usually locate the IP address either via the BOOTP logs on a
>       Linux machine or via the NT DHCP display.

You run your headless servers via DHCP? I expected DHCP to be used for
client-type machines.

( When you have an NT machine, you usually have a VGA monitor as
well. Ignore NT, take the monitor and attach it to the machine. You
need this anyway in order to fix things in the BIOS. A BIOS that can
drive a terminal were fine, but I am not aware of one.)

>    B) The web-server will start running
>    C) There is NO user interaction up to this point. Video is not used at
>       all.
> 2. I can then use my laptop attached to the ethernet or a nearby
>    workstation with any web-browser and connect to the webserver on 
>    the new machine

How will you solve the initial password issue. Some people don't want
such a time window for intruders.

> 3. Use a web-driven configuration process
>    - initial partitioning and formatting

> This would simplify the installation process extremely. I could just sent
> the installation disk to a customer far away and tell him to insert that
> disk into a new machine and I could remotely set it up from home!

OK, the monitor swapping doesn't help in the remote case.

> I have a customer in Minneapolis for example and I needed someone to do
> the initial install before I could take over the system. He put RH on it
> since he knew nothing else..... I then had to upgrade the system to Debian
> via telnet. Uggh.

Having a customer might be a good motivation to implement a solution
in a well-designed way. Do it, and please do it right ...

I neither think that it is possible nor that it is worth the trouble,
so I won't invest my time. And I have no customer.

Sven Rudolph <sr1@inf.tu-dresden.de> ; WWW : http://www.sax.de/~sr1/

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