[syslinux] PXE-based installations to local disk

Simon Redding simon at redding.name
Tue Jan 11 13:10:44 PST 2005

Hi folks,

There is probably a canned solution for this problem, but after some searching I can't find it.
I currently run some stations booted over the network using pretty standard PXELINUX, boot kernel & initrd (squashed) images.  The PXE-bootable images are thin client Linux (PXES, but could be anything like LTSP, ThinStation etc).

However I will be installing some more at the end of DSL links, and don't want to do every boot from the network.  Rather, I'd like the network option to remain for initial installation or in case the hard disk installation becomes corrupted.  So, the boot order is HD0 then PXE.  If HD0 is not bootable, or the user selects PXE booting manually, then I want the PXE boot to 're-flash' the hard disk with a bootable Linux image sourced from the TFTP server.  Pretty effective disaster recovery for me...
Ideally, the user would be presented with a pxegrub (or whatever) list of devices to install to (e.g. first 4 IDE drives, first two USB sticks and first SCSI device.  Then it would fdisk, mbr and copy a TFTP'd image onto that device.  For first shot, just always installing to /dev/hda would be fine...

It seems to me to be a simple script that could run in a PXE-booted embedded Linux image, but that seems like a lot of work (basically a custom distro) for doing very little...
Does anyone have a good elegant solution to this?  

simon AT violetlight DOT com
simon AT redding DOT name

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