I haven't been here for a while, 'cuz I switched back to plain old Slackware. Why? Because I like a vanilla distro on my machine to play around with. VL is just to polished, to finished. I still have VL in dual boot though, and it still is my favorite distro after Slackware.
Now I remember a while ago in the Marketing section we where discussing how to bring VL to the masses. I there said I might be able to install VL on a number of discarded machines that my employer will sell to it's employees for a symbolical price. These machines have run XP, but are now killdisked so they are clean. Now you may have thought I wasn't serious back then
but the moment is drawing near.
Anyway. There is no way I can install that number of machines manually. I have Linux Networking Cookbook by Carla Schroder and therein she describes hands free Linux installment over a network. Alas she depends on Fedora and Debian based specific tools. I'm looking for something more generic. Most target machines support network boot.
Steps to take:Client:
I intend to install one machine with VL tuned to perfection. This basically means I install VL and add Dutch localization and OOo FF3.0.1. Then, using dd draw an image from that, and install that image over the network.Server:
I have one machine already prepped with Slackware 12.1 (only installed A, AP and N packages). That's all I did at the moment.
It will need (probably) to become both a DHCP server and a FTP server.Network
The network wont be the companies network, obviously. I'll make an ad-hoc network with the server hooked up to a switch. Target machines
Most between 1.6 and 2Ghz machines, with ~512 RAM.
40~80GB hard drive (unpartitioned, just one long string of 0's)
Only 25% has a CDROM drive
roughly 20% has a bad 3.5' drive, the rest are ok
Most if not all of them are capable of booting of USB and network
VL runs perfectly on them
What I still need:
Input from other people.
There are howto's on the net of course, but as I'm still preparing I don't have a very clear picture of what problems I will face. I'd like some human feedback.
I think the best way to approach this is either to create a boot disk [3.5' | CDROM | USB ] ; then
Insert the boot medium. This should then boot the machine to the point where it can 1) contact the DHCP server, 2) draw the image through FTP and 3) write it to the hard drive.
Or, with network boot, boot over the network to the point where it can do this without ever inserting a physical medium. I prefer this because many machines don't have CDROM.
The most beautiful thing would be that the whole process would take nothing more than a little fiddling with the BIOS to draw the correct boot image from the network and then do all this stuff fully automated.
Now I still have a lots of questions and some loose ends. But I'll leave it at this for now as my post is long enough
Now I know my way around a Linux machine. I know how to set up a FTP server. I think I will be able to set up a DHCP server. But for all intends and purposes, I have never ever done anything remotely like what I described above. I have to rely mostly on guesswork while preparing for this all. Which is fun of course, I adopted this little project mainly because I think it's fun and promises results in Real World terms. I come here before
the fact because I hope someone knows a little more about this than I do and is willing to share their knowledge. I understand if no one does or isn't
Also, I understand that from a strategic perspective 30~80 machines isn't a structural widening of VL's user base. So you may not feel it's worth the effort. But on a fun sidenote (we need a little bit of fun in a long post like this)... one well known OS vendor was literally screaming on their website that they rescued (sic!) a school (180 machines and a couple of servers) in my home town from Linux. But failed to mention that that same year the municipality of that city (3000+ machines) had moved away from them and switched to Linux.
Pray bear with me, this is a non
-commercial initiative from my side. The company I work for is a non-profit organization in the health care sector. The employees buying the machines will mostly be tremendously underpayed health care workers. It is either this or nothing.