Automated Ubuntu Installation Preview

By | 2007/10/14

I have recently started expanding my research based from previous tutorials on network based installations and PXE booting + network based installations to include automated Ubuntu installations. I will mention that I do not consider myself an expert at this by any means, but I wanted to give some of you a preview of what will end up being a much more mature tool.

Ubuntu and Debian installers use preseed for basically pre-answering installation questions for automated installation. RedHat and Fedora installers use kickstart for the same purpose. Well the Ubuntu installer team has combined these into a project called Kickseed, which basically allows Ubuntu to use RedHat / Fedora based kickstart files for automated Ubuntu installations.

Having worked with kickstart quite a bit I have an interest in the kickseed project and I’d love to contribute to it. Anyone else that would like to see more mature automated Ubuntu installation processes should look into this project as well.

I want to give the Ubuntu Team a little time to finish and release Ubuntu 7.10, but after that perhaps some of us can start focusing on maturing this project and working with the installer team members to do so.

In the meantime, I have a public generic kickstart script you can use to simply preview what can be done. To use this do the following:

  1. Boot the Alternate install CD.
  2. At the boot menu hit ‘esc’ and ‘exit to text mode’.
  3. enter “install ks=http://zelut.org/projects/misc/ks-test.cfg

This should automate the entire installation with the following specs:

  • en_US language and qwerty keyboard layout
  • ‘ubuntu’ user with the password of ‘password’
  • 100M /boot, 2048M swap, remaining space for / partitions
  • Gnome desktop with GDM
  • DHCP on eth0

This will, of course, wipe any data from the machine you test it on so give it a shot in a virtual machine or on a test machine. And, again, if you’re interested in using something like this contact me and we’ll see what we can organize towards improvements and maturity.

13 thoughts on “Automated Ubuntu Installation Preview

  1. ctkroeker

    Great guide, gonna modify it a bit and see if I can do some mass installations on our network.

    Reply
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  3. Ryan

    I’m very interested in seeing Ubuntu have tools to manage all of this. I created a blueprint for automated network installations:

    https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/automated-installation

    You should try modifying your example by using a local mirror of an Ubuntu repository rather than a CD, a local TFTP server, and then adding random packages to the installation. I haven’t tried recently but back around dapper, buggy packages would interrupt the installation with annoying debconf prompts. (like oh, for example, this little package called “sendmail”: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/sendmail/+bug/56076)

    Reply
  4. C.Lee Taylor

    Very nice, one of the tools that have kept me using Fedora …

    Reply
  5. Mike

    Thanks for writing this up. At work we use SuSE’s autoyast and we want to start doing automated Ubuntu installations. If you’d like help getting the system firmed up, let me know – I’ll pitch in what I learn.

    Reply
  6. Vaughan

    Great – our LUG is looking to assist a local non profit that has collected 600 PC’s for kids to use. Exactly we tool we need to get the project off the ground, and move these guys from Win 2k to Linux!

    Reply
  7. Lin

    Have you had any luck adding additional packages to the %packages list. Everytime I try I get an error at the end of the install. In Fedora I could just add all the packages I wanted to the list and use the -resolvedeps to have it automatically load anything my list needed.

    Reply
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  11. Chris

    Awesome,

    I am setting up 5 corporate systems for a very large company as a test run. Interested in any further development of this project and possibly helping with feedback etc. I noticed that currently we are unable to automate the installation of programs like firestarter etc. Is this going to be included in future releases.

    Great stuff, thanks

    Reply
  12. Thomas Lange (Mrfai)

    Have a look at FAI (Fully Automatic Isntallation).
    This is what you want. It’s much flexible that the kickstart/preseed way.

    http://fai-project.org

    Reply

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