Category Archives: PXE

Net-install a custom linux distro on Cloud Servers

I originally posted this article over at Failverse, but I figured I should have it on my own blog as well. This guide may be a little dated as Rackspace has updated their host servers to utilize a newer version of Xen. Your mileage may vary.

This guide will walk you through installing a custom linux distro to Rackspace Cloud Servers without the need of taring up a file system from a donor box. This particular guide is specific to openSuse, but the same method can be used to install other distros that support automated/remote install.

This process is entirely unsupported by Rackspace.

First, some documentation before we get started:
http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Remote_installation
http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Linuxrc

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Creating a Non-standard Size Bootable Floppy Image for PXE Boot

I originally posted this article over at Failverse, but I figured I should have it on my own blog as well.

The majority of motherboard manufactures still only allow you to update your BIOS either from within Windows, from a USB stick within the BIOS itself, or from a floppy with DOS. The first option doesn’t work with a linux box for obvious reasons. While the second option is nice for updating one box, it quickly becomes a hassle when you have an entire rack you need to update. And the third option is antiquated by any meaning of the word… or is it? While the days of floppies are long gone, the reign of the floppy image is still going strong in the world of PXE boot.

The biggest limitation of a floppy image is easily its size. 1.44MB is almost useless in today’s world of terabyte hard drives. Since BIOS images take up about 1MB, that leaves room for not much else. Meaning no scripting, no fancy menus, just the flasher program and your BIOS image. One of the most common methods around this limitation is to offsite your BIOS images to a samba share and instead use the 1.44MBs of space for network utilities. While this does work fine, it brings back bad memories of networking in DOS that I’d rather not experience again. Instead, I’ll walk you through how to expand a floppy image to whatever size is comfy for you, and most importantly, keep it bootable.
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