Your Linux Data Center Experts

A few months ago Kyle gave a presentation on PXE booting and mentioned gPXE, a new PXE implementation with advanced features. He didn't have time to check it out, but I was intrigued… What I did is set up PXE to boot gPXE, so I can use the existing PXE ROMs that are in all of my machines, and have it load gPXE.

Then I stumbled across a great find: boot.kernel.org. Using a few simple configuration settings and files you download, boot.kernel.org can be your PXE server.

It takes care of one of the biggest drawbacks to having a PXE server: having to maintain it. Of course, it also has issues of it's own: the (typically large) installer files are coming across your Internet line instead of from a local copy.

One caveat though, it looks like the Hardy Lucid and Maverick menus are blank, but Hardy is ok. I've reported this to the BKO mailing list so hopefully it'll be fixed up soon.

I've dealt with this by setting up a “transparent caching proxy” on my firewall machine. Anything that is destined from my wired network to our mirror server goes through an Apache instance configured with disc-based caching. So the first install of a distro may be slower, but future ones are very fast. I used this quite successfully on Saturday night to do the Maverick beta install on 4 machines.

So, if you are thinking about doing PXE but don't want to set up the PXE install/boot images try using boot.kernel.org.

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