Installing Linux (without CD/floppies)

Daniel Kidger Daniel.Kidger at
Mon Feb 17 09:23:01 PST 2003


>What's the best way to install Linux RedHat in a 40-node
>Beowulf whose nodes don't have neither floppy nor
>CD drive ? I've only one non-hotSwap CD/floppy unit 
>and I wouldn't like to put the CD/floppy 
>unit and wait for the installation's end on each node.
This is worthy of an FAQ.

As long as your network cards' support PXE (most do nowadays), then it is
sufficient to simply copy the contents of the (3) CD's to a 'master' node,
install a http server like apache (or use NFS) and tweak a few files
(/etc/dhcpd.conf, /etc/hosts, files in /tftpboot, etc.)

Then when each node powers up, it will broadcast its MAC address, get sent a
'grub.conf'-like file from the master node over the network. It will then
get the redhat installer kernel and usually a 'kickstart' file from the
master node and start installing. When finished installing, it can reboot
itself and join the cluster.

Hence, no need for any floppy/CD on the compute nodes - and not really any
need for a keyboard/monitor either.

The only potentially laborious step is collecting the MAC address first and
tweaking each BIOS to enable PXE booting.


Dr. Dan Kidger, Quadrics Ltd.      daniel.kidger at
One Bridewell St., Bristol, BS1 2AA, UK         0117 915 5505
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