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Chapter 10. Setting Up an Installation Server

10.1. PXE Installation Overview
10.2. DHCP Server Configuration
10.3. Installing the tftp server
10.4. Providing and configuring bootloaders for PXE clients
10.5. Getting the kernel and initrd
10.6. Providing repositories
10.7. Advanced network installations with Cobbler


This appendix is intended for users with previous Linux experience. If you are a new user, you may want to install using minimal boot media or the distribution DVD instead.

10.1. PXE Installation Overview

Preboot Execution Environment, or PXE, is a techonology that allows computers to boot directly from resources provided over the network. Installing Fedora over the network means you don't have to create media, and you can install to multiple computers or virtual machine simultaneously. The process involves a number of components and features working together to provide the resources required.
PXE-capable computer
Most modern computers have the capability to network boot. Typically, a function key pressed during boot will bring up a boot selection menu. In environments designed for unattended administration, systems will often be configured to first attempt booting from the network, then boot from local storage, and the installation server is configured to only offer the installation when required. Your computer's manual will provide specific instructions on setting boot priorities.
DHCP Server
When a system requests an address during network booting, the DHCP server also provides the location of files to boot. A network should have only one DHCP server.
TFTP Server
Because the pre-boot environment is very simple, files must be provided in a very simple way. Trivial File Transfer Protocol, or TFTP, provides the system with the bootloader required to continue the installation process.
Because the job of booting an operating system is too complex for the pre-boot environment, a bootloader is used to load the kernel and related files. It also provides configuration information to the installer, and can offer a menu to select from different configurations.
Kernel and Initramfs
The kernel is the core of any Linux operating system, and the initramfs provides the kernel with required tools and resources. These files are also provided by tftp.
Package repository
A Fedora repository must be available for the installation. The example in this section uses the public Fedora mirrors as the repository source, but you can also use a repo on the local network provided by NFS, FTP, or HTTP. Repositories can be configured using the inst.repo= boot option; see Section 8.2.1, “Specifying the Installation Source” for details.