[Beowulf] small distro for PXE boot, autostarts sshd?

Tim Cutts tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Fri Feb 27 01:18:56 PST 2009

On 26 Feb 2009, at 11:00 pm, David Mathog wrote:

> There are a million distros, and many "small" distros, but these  
> seem to
> be optimized for desktop use.  Surely there are a few out there that  
> can
> do the following:
> 1.  pxe boot (easily)
> 2.  autostart sshd, allowing root ssh login (there is no
>  keyboard on the remote machine).
> 3.  contains smartmontools, parted, fdisk, etc., but not any desktop  
> pieces.

The system we use for Debian deployment, FAI, does this.  As soon as  
the machine PXE boots, FAI starts an ssh server on the machine.  If  
the machine's being PXE booted to a rescue target, this is all that  
happens, and you can then log in and fix whatever needs fixing.  If  
it's PXE booting an install target, then the ssh server allows you to  
monitor and debug the installation process; very  useful when you're  
PXE installing a new type of hardware that you haven't done before.

If you're already using Debian or Ubuntu, you can just 'aptitude  
install fai' to get the whole thing up and running.  Some  
customisation is required of course, particularly in your DHCP  


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