How to install Linux over PXE Server

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In this configuration guide, you will learn, how to install Linux over PXE Server. #centlinux #linux #pxe

Problem Statement:

In our previous posts, we have configured a PXE boot server for automated installation of RHEL 7.5 operating system that supports both BIOS and UEFI based clients. Now, we will add RHEL 6 installation option in our PXE boot server. We will also create a Kickstart file for automated installation of RHEL 6 operating system, and ensure that it will support both BIOS and UEFI based clients.

In this article, we are performing everything from CLI, therefore, it is highly recommended that, you should have Linux Pocket Guide: Essential Commands (PAID LINK) for quick reference.

System Specification:

We use the same Linux server that we have configured as PXE Boot Server in our previous article. These specifications have been re-mentioned below for convenience of the readers.

  • CPU – 2 Core (2.4 Mhz)
  • Memory – 2 GB
  • Storage – 50 GB
  • Operating System – RHEL 7.5
  • Hostname – pxe-server.itlab.com
  • IP Address – 192.168.116.41/24

Share Linux ISO via FTP Server:

Connect to pxe-server.itlab.com using ssh.

Attach RHEL 6 ISO/DVD and mount it at /mnt/iso (you can use any mountpoint, according to your choice).

# mount -t iso9660 /dev/cdrom /mnt/iso
mount: /dev/sr0 is write-protected, mounting read-only

Copy contents of /mnt/iso directory to FTP server.

# cp -rf /mnt/iso /var/ftp/pub/rhel6

Create a Kickstart File for Automated Installation:

We have to write a Kickstart file for RHEL 6 within the /var/ftp/pub/rhel6 directory, so it can be accessed by PXE clients via FTP service.

# vi /var/ftp/pub/rhel6/rhel6.cfg

A sample kickstart file is given below, you can modify it according to your requirements.

Read Also:Automate PXE Client Installations with Kickstart
#platform=x86, AMD64, or Intel EM64T
#version=DEVEL
# Install OS instead of upgrade
install
# Keyboard layouts
keyboard 'us'
# Root password
rootpw --iscrypted $1$vyNMLtgd$VmtByshddZSBK..uuFhoH0
# Use network installation
url --url="ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel6"
# System language
lang en_US
# System authorization information
auth  --useshadow  --passalgo=sha512
# Use graphical install
graphical
firstboot --disable
# SELinux configuration
selinux --enforcing
# Firewall configuration
firewall --enabled --ssh
# Network information
network  --bootproto=dhcp --device=eth0
# Reboot after installation
reboot
# System timezone
timezone Asia/Karachi
# System bootloader configuration
bootloader --location=mbr
autopart
# Partition clearing information
clearpart --none --initlabel
# Packages to be installed
%packages
@core
%end

Copy boot images to tftpboot directory:

We need to copy initrd.img and vmlinuz files from RHEL 6 ISO to /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/rhel6 directory. These files will be later referenced in the menu entry of PXE boot menu.

# mkdir /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/rhel6
# cp /var/ftp/pub/rhel6/images/pxeboot/vmlinuz /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/rhel6/
# cp /var/ftp/pub/rhel6/images/pxeboot/initrd.img /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/rhel6/

Create Linux Entry in PXE Menu:

Edit PXE boot menu for BIOS based clients.

# vi /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default

add a menu entry for RHEL 6 installation therein.

default menu.c32
prompt 0
timeout 30
menu title Ahmer's PXE Menu
label Install RHEL 7.5
kernel /networkboot/rhel7/vmlinuz
append initrd=/networkboot/rhel7/initrd.img inst.repo=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel7 ks=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel7/rhel7.cfg
label Install RHEL 6.0 (64-bit)
kernel /networkboot/rhel6/vmlinuz
append initrd=/networkboot/rhel6/initrd.img inst.repo=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel6 ks=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel6/rhel6.cfg

Edit PXE boot menu for UEFI based clients.

# vi /var/lib/tftpboot/grub.cfg

add a menu entry for RHEL 6 installation therein.

set timeout=60

menuentry 'Install RHEL 7.5' {
        linuxefi /networkboot/rhel7/vmlinuz inst.repo=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel7/ inst.ks=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel7/rhel7.cfg
        initrdefi /networkboot/rhel7/initrd.img
}

menuentry 'Install RHEL 6.0' {
        linuxefi /networkboot/rhel6/vmlinuz inst.repo=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel6/ inst.ks=ftp://192.168.116.41/pub/rhel6/rhel6.cfg
        initrdefi /networkboot/rhel6/initrd.img
}

Now, connect a BIOS based PXE client to network and boot it. It will display the following PXE boot menu.

pxe boot menu for rhel 6

Similarly, connect a UEFI based PXE client to network and boot it. It will display the following PXE boot menu.

uefi pxe boot menu for rhel 6

We have successfully added the RHEL 6 installation option to our PXE boot server. You can add other versions of RHEL or CentOS in similar manner.

Conclusion – Install Linux over PXE Server:

In this configuration guide, you will learn, how to install Linux over PXE Server.