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The General Infrastructure

The production system and the prototype were built on differing operating systems. Solaris 10 was initially used to allow for native Solaris Jumpstart procedures for Jumpstarting Solaris 9 on both Intel and Sparc. While migrating the completed prototype to RHEL 5.0 64, the Sparc Solaris issues, Sparc lacking  pxe boot loader capabilities to boot the operating system, were addressed by adding the appropriate stanzas to the dhcpd configuration files.

Unless otherwise specified, the Solaris installation was built from the source tarball, whereas the Linux installation came from an official RedHat RPM. This typically accounts for any version differences found between the two operating systems.

The network services required to fully netboot and install a machine are as follows:

  • At the lowest level there is a dhcp server listening for initial boot requests. ISC’s dhcpd server, specifically version 3.0.6 which was the current version at the time. On the RHEL machine, version 3.0.5, was used.
  • A tftp server is required to make the necessary files available. The files in question could be either pxe bootloaders for Linux and Solaris 10, the actual boot files in the case of Solaris 9, and the WINNT bootloader in the case of Windows. Tftp-hpa version 0.42 was chosen as the tftp server of choice as it supported the remapping of file paths in requests, and offered tcp wrappers as an added bonus.
  • An HTTP server is made available on the network to support Solaris jumpstart and Linux kickstart. The server offers media for both of the installation processes. The Apache that shipped with Solaris 10, Apache/2.0.58, and the Apache that shipped with RHEL 5, Apache/2.2.3, worked without a problem.
  • An NFS server is made available on the network to support Solaris installations including jumpstart. The server offers the entire media tree to any client that may desire it. Linux NFS servers may have problems with Solaris clients on anything other than NFSv2. The converse is not true.
  • To support windows, a CIFS needed to be offered. Samba was picked as it is the primary software of choice. Version 3.023c-2 was used on RHEL, 3.025c on Solaris.
  • RIS Services are required to properly net install a Windows machine. The software used was a python implementation of the binl server and is covered in greater detail in the Windows section.
  • Additionally, OS ISOs for every operating system to be installed must be obtained for both the Windows and Unix environments. This must be done in accordance to appropriate licensing for each respective OS.

The delivered product was capable of installing: Linux RHEL 3,4,5 32 and 64 bit variants, Solaris 9, 10, both intel and sparc at multiple releases, Windows 200[03], XP, both 32 and 64 bit including the unpatched and last two service pack levels. All in all a total of 27 windows offerings, 6 Solaris offerings, and 6 Linux offerings were available to any server or desktop that supported pxe booting.

More to come…

>>> Karl