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Building a Multi-OS Installation Host

Recently a client expressed interest in having me build an installation environment wholly contained on a single, preferably unix, server. The client had a requirement of being able to Kickstart any RedHat/Fedora Linux distribution they chose, Jumpstart Solaris 9 & 10 for Sparc and Intel, and net install a wide range of windows installations. The unix installation environments were straightforward, both taking advantage of the pxe bootloader environment. Linux uses pxelinux, and Solaris uses a Sun modified version of pxegrub. Windows was an entirely different issue.

After a bit of research I decided to use a combination of the theory behind the Ultimate Deployment Appliance (UDA) VM, available from http://www.vmware.com/appliances/directory/232 , VMWare’s appliances directory, as well as the information found on the RIS for Linux site located at http://oss.netfarm.it/guides/pxe.php around which the UDA is built.UDA v1.4 was already capable of booting a considerable variety of 32 bit windows images, however it lacked the ability to easily add 64 bit images. Additionally, there was no need for the pretty HTML GUI that the package offered and so they were omitted in favor of a pxelinux and pxegrub menu system.

This series of articles will describe how the system was built as well as provide examples on how to build your own. It will be written in several parts, at least one for each of Solaris, Linux, and Windows, and the Windows article may be further subdivided into several more.

More will follow as time permits.

>>> Karl

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