Gentoo Archives: gentoo-installer

From: Martin Andersen <martin.andersen@××××.org>
To: gentoo-installer@l.g.o
Subject: [gentoo-installer] Pure network (medialess) install (PXE + Grub + NFS) support via installer
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 13:11:30

Recently I tried to install Gentoo using a PXE-enabled Grub image that I set up 
to boot the kernel provided on the experimental 2005.1 install CD (as well as 
also using the initial cpio ramfs image.)

Obviously, I quickly experienced that such an install was -- for the moment at 
least -- not exactly hassle-free and straightforward to set up in Gentoo.
After perusing some of the bootup routines (syslinux, /linuxrc, the squashfs 
livecd image et al.), I sort of came to a dead end when trying to get my head 
around exactly where would be the appropriate place to modify the installer 
(/boot-process) or even what to do in order to manually tell it to source the 
installation files over NFS instead of the local CD/DVD rom.

Since I recently did a very hassle-free installation of Solaris 10 using the 
exact same method described in the subject, I thought that well, this *shouldn't* 
be that hard to add support in Gentoo for.

However, I am pretty much out if ideas when it comes to getting this thing to 
run without investing too much time on it.

So far I've provided my own pxegrub (incidentally the one Sun used, as it had 
support for a variety of commonly-used NICs), as well as compiled a replacement 
kernel with DHCP and NFSROOT support. (NFSROOT wouldn't be strictly needed, but 
I threw it in anyways). Alas, I've not managed to persuade the installer to 
use NFS instead of local media for the install, despite being able to mount the 
NFS share on the client (particulars regarding squashfs mounting, udev 
detection etc.)

Now on to the reason for posting this to the list (and my sincere apologies if 
it isn't the right place for it) -- the best way for achieving this would 
naturally be to provide support for NFS installs at some early part in the boot 
procedure; e.g, as a kernel option for instance; or if no CD/DVD media is 
detected, ask for network-install.

To give an example, in Solaris this is achieved simply via --

kernel /solaris-x86/multiboot kernel/unix -B

(whereas install_media=cdrom being for local installs)

I suspect this shouldn't be too hard to provide in Gentoo, as I am sure it 
would be quite beneficial with regard to JumpStarted environs, and also for 
systems that for some reason or another do not have a local CD/DVD drive 

Any other thoughts on this? Is my request totally inappropriate (as in 
currently downprioritized), or do others see the benefits of having such a 


-=-=- Martin Andersen =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- EMail: martin.andersen@××××.org =-=-=-=-=-=-=-
-=-=- Cellphone:   +47  906 45 948 -=-=-=- -=-=-=-=-
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