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Old 06-16-2004, 01:55 PM   #1
Cobra133
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Question I need help finding a linux distro (needs to be able to install from cd with no input


Hi-

OK, here is my delima. I'm no Linux newbie but I've run into a problem that probbably belongs on this forum. I'm looking for a distro, but not just any distro. Here what I'm trying to do. I've got hundreds of these linux boxes i have to make for some really odd human genome stuff for colleges around the united states. We decided to used linux for everything for two reasons: 1, stability. 2, price. We are making over 1000 of these boxes over a 5 year period. The basic hardware setup uses as laptop HD, a cd burner, and a mini-itx motherboard from VIA. Here is my delima. I have to get the exact same software settings on each linux box. But there probbably wont be more than 5 boxes with the exact same hardware. The company I'm working for is pretty much buying parts from internet vendors 10 at a time to build these things. I thought about making an exact copy of the HD and burning it to multiple CDs and then copying it back onto each HD to boot all the software settings and what not, but that won't work if the hardware changes or the HD size changes. Is there a distro out there that can do the following:

1. boot directly from cd onto hd with little/no user input (i dont have time to select stuff when i'm building 10 of these at once cause i'll mess one little thing up)
2. can auto detect and setup most major hardware, i'm not using anything special
3. can setup printers automatically (not a requirement but sure would be nice)
4. I need it to auto install some tarballs of custom software i have developed and be able to write a WHOLE bunch of files to different directories
5. Edit user settings on the first boot

Does anyone know of a distro that can do all this, or even come close?

Something else to consider: When these things are in the field there REALLY needs to be a recovery cd that erases the HD and boots everything from scratch that works the first time.

Thanks!
 
Old 06-16-2004, 02:11 PM   #2
bruno buys
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Hi cobra! Nice problem you have! Its way different than most questions in this forum...

Well, if you are building 1000 boxes, I strongly suggest you get into contact with the authors of the distros, since they will be glad to know their distro has been used in this academic research. You can get help from the developers, which is, as you know, an invaluable resource. And they can learn a lot by participating in this effort.

The ideal solution would be to use some ghost scheme, just by writing an customized image file to the hd. But if the hardware changes, you run into trouble.

Knoppix seems to be the best suited distro to you, to my knowledge. You will need to develop a solution to steps 4 and 5, but no big deal. Some scripts may do the job.

Concerning the recovery cd, take a look at the dban software:

http://dban.sourceforge.net/

Last edited by bruno buys; 06-16-2004 at 02:13 PM.
 
Old 06-16-2004, 02:27 PM   #3
Cobra133
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Thanks! If anyone else has any input I'm all ears!
 
Old 06-16-2004, 03:05 PM   #4
Cobra133
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I've been looking through the Knoppix website, and im downloading the iso right now, but I'm a bit confused on how to remaster a cd. Is there a better faq than the one on the website, or would anyone be willing to assist me?
 
Old 06-16-2004, 03:41 PM   #5
michaelk
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I know that Mandrake (expert mode) and Redhat provide a way to create a configuration disk.

For Redhat:
https://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/...ickstart2.html

I do not know about other distributions.
 
Old 06-16-2004, 06:16 PM   #6
linmix
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When I installed Mandrake in expert mode it offered to make a disk to serialise the setup procedure and I did (just for the heck of it). Later when my system got corrupted I used it to do a new install and it worked like magic. Provided you have a disk drive it's a great sollution, although I suppose it should be possible to include the disk information on the CD itself and then point the setup program to the disk.
 
Old 06-16-2004, 07:47 PM   #7
KooPA
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Can you install Mandrake without a floppy drive?
 
Old 06-16-2004, 08:51 PM   #8
michaelk
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Quote:
Originally posted by KooPA
Can you install Mandrake without a floppy drive?
AFAIK only if you have a bootable CDROM drive.
 
Old 06-16-2004, 09:57 PM   #9
KooPA
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I thought you needed it to do stuff with the swap?
 
Old 06-17-2004, 07:55 AM   #10
Cobra133
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Is there a way to get that disk onto a CD? The boxes I'm working with don't have a floppy drive.
 
Old 06-17-2004, 08:26 AM   #11
Raphael M
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Maybe the PXE Server and ImageCast would be a solution for some parts of your problem.
It enables you to do some preconfiguration for every single image and you can make bootable image-cds.
But if the hardware changes you could be in trouble, and as far as I know PXE requires a Windows server ( not sure about this ).
 
Old 06-17-2004, 10:03 AM   #12
Cobra133
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I think that Knoppix can do this, I'm just not sure where to start. If anyone has Knoppix remastering experience please contact me!
 
  


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