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  1. #1
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    automated os installation?

    most of the larger datacenters have automated os reinstallation etc.

    is there any reason why some others do not have? is that because the system has to be developed or there's solution out there but simply too expensive to buy?

    what are the prerequisite to have automated os reinstallation?

  2. #2
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    I am unaware of any prebuilt solution for the reloads. I think I had read somewhere on here that Ubersmith was working on something like this.
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  3. #3
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    http://www.linmin.com/

    But you network and back end has to be set up for it and it is not cheap.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    All solutions need proper development on the providers side, also -- getting one OS working is not the same as another OS.
    Also, a provider with a complex network architecture is a lot harder and "packaged software" does not usually work.

    For example, Debian, CentOS and FreeBSD and Windows all present different problems. Also, any new releases may require re-tweaking of the previously coded system, etc.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by wheimeng View Post
    most of the larger datacenters have automated os reinstallation etc.

    is there any reason why some others do not have? is that because the system has to be developed or there's solution out there but simply too expensive to buy?

    what are the prerequisite to have automated os reinstallation?
    It's a matter of scale. Automating something that takes 10 minutes of work once a week is not nearly as important to a company as automating something that takes 10 minutes of work 10 times a day. But for either case, the same amount of work is needed to set up and maintain the automation systems.
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  7. #7
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    NOC-PS is an example of a server provisioning system. We however have built our own system in-house and currently supports Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora and FreeBSD. It works flawlessly on all our Dedicated servers.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGotzmann View Post
    All solutions need proper development on the providers side, also -- getting one OS working is not the same as another OS.
    Also, a provider with a complex network architecture is a lot harder and "packaged software" does not usually work.

    For example, Debian, CentOS and FreeBSD and Windows all present different problems. Also, any new releases may require re-tweaking of the previously coded system, etc.
    This is the only problem with building an automated provisioning system.

    ...

    If the network has dedicated VLANs per server, its going to create a messy switch/router to pass all those DHCP requests to your provisioning server (a lot of providers do this so that clients don't steal IPs and other security reasons). If you want one VLAN using 2nd NIC on the server means additional switch + cabling = $$$.

    Apart from that, creating the OS templates is a big pain and yet a bigger pain is maintaining them with the latest updates and so on.

    We are also using NOC-PS and it works just fine. Nothing exceptional. Good value for money; 100 servers is 100 Euro/year (comes down to 1 Euro/m/server).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Techark View Post
    http://www.linmin.com/

    But you network and back end has to be set up for it and it is not cheap.
    We tried LinMin a while ago, but there were too many compatibility issues. It ends up being easier to just install by hand over IPMI.

  10. #10
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    There is ISPsystem's DSmanager too that does this.

    Extremely buggy and broken.

  11. #11
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    WHy reinvent the wheel? For Redhat, (and its clones) or Even Ubuntu just use kickstart and do custom configuration in the post install section.

    Dave.

  12. #12
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    and how do you plan to deploy kickstart so that its available for customers on an automatic, remote basis and for them to be able to customize partitions, configure software RAID as well as have it work with VLANs, switches (switches must be CLI-equipped), etc. Then where will the front-end come from that enables customers to control all of this?

    Theres A LOT more to it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGotzmann View Post
    and how do you plan to deploy kickstart so that its available for customers on an automatic, remote basis and for them to be able to customize partitions, configure software RAID as well as have it work with VLANs, switches (switches must be CLI-equipped), etc.
    Sounds like you are making things more complicated than they should be.
    Why exactly do switches need to be CLI equipped?


    Yes, PXE network installations require the use of DHCP, and DHCP traffic normally does not travel across VLAN boundaries.
    So what you need to do is tell your router to forward the DHCP traffic from all VLANs to the server that is doing the provisioning.

    Which usually is a one-line setting like:

    Code:
    ip helper-address 1.2.3.4
    Nothing more, nothing less.

    You can tell your DHCP server to only respond to MAC-addresses that need to be provisioned, and hand the server their public IP-address, netmask and gateway settings, without any need for temporary private IP-addresses or the like.
    So you can leave the router setting permanently in-place, and are not required to make any additional changes to your network configuration when you want to provision a server.
    Last edited by Maxnet; 05-15-2011 at 08:37 AM. Reason: typo

  14. #14
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    Kickstart files are fairly simple and allow configuration of raid, lvm, custom partitions etc. system-config-kickstart can also write them. You could make a simple web gui to allow options to be changed.

    You can even give users full graphical installs (cf vnc option for kickstart.)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by david_halliday View Post
    Kickstart files are fairly simple and allow configuration of raid, lvm, custom partitions etc. system-config-kickstart can also write them. You could make a simple web gui to allow options to be changed.

    You can even give users full graphical installs (cf vnc option for kickstart.)
    Kickstart is redhat/centos only. For debian and ubuntu you need preseed which is a completely different and undocumented animal prone to constant breakage every time an update comes out. Add to the mix BSD which as no net-based 'kickstart' capability (well you can hack something together but it's more trouble than it's worth in most cases). Oh don't forget windows 2003 (unattended) and 2008 (rds). The list goes on making it all play nice together with your growing network and changing hardware (without resorting to dumb image installers)...doable (we've done it) but definitely not for the timid. You'll need some creative programmers to pull it all together and ongoing maintenance to keep it running smoothly.
    Last edited by FastServ; 05-17-2011 at 09:52 AM.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastServ View Post
    Kickstart is redhat/centos only. For debian and ubuntu you need preseed which is a completely different and undocumented animal prone to constant breakage every time an update comes out.
    Actually, Ubuntu has a Kickstart compatibility layer nowadays.

    Debian is indeed problematic though. Not just because of preseed, but also because of their politics.
    E.g. do not support network modules that require proprietary firmware (like Broadcom).

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by InfiniteTech View Post
    This is the only problem with building an automated provisioning system.

    ...

    If the network has dedicated VLANs per server, its going to create a messy switch/router to pass all those DHCP requests to your provisioning server (a lot of providers do this so that clients don't steal IPs and other security reasons). If you want one VLAN using 2nd NIC on the server means additional switch + cabling = $$$.

    It is fairly easy to setup DHCP relay on your router, then simply DHCP your servers public ip address and have the PXE server on a public address only accepting connections from your ip addresses marked to be provisioned. From there the build can be slightly complex, but on a network level it is rather easy.
    Last edited by Instavps; 05-17-2011 at 12:37 PM. Reason: quote move

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxnet View Post
    Actually, Ubuntu has a Kickstart compatibility layer nowadays.
    Ubuntu kickstart installs actually work very well but make sure you installs over http not nfs.

    Dave.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Instavps View Post
    It is fairly easy to setup DHCP relay on your router, then simply DHCP your servers public ip address and have the PXE server on a public address only accepting connections from your ip addresses marked to be provisioned. From there the build can be slightly complex, but on a network level it is rather easy.
    It can be easy yes. But the easy way isn't always ideal. For us, provisioning on a firewalled subnet then reassigning to the customer VLAN after updates are applied works best. For example, it's near impossible to keep your Windows install-base up to date and over time you could have enough vulnerabilities between post-install and the first windows update cycle to be rooted before the client even logs in. We'll keep it on the deploy VLAN sitting behind NAT until windows updates have completed which kicks off a script that reconfigures the primary NIC and switches the port config.
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