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How To Install An Operating System Over The Network?


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You need a server like Windows 2003/2008 server, then you will need to install and configure a service called RIS (remote installation service). Once the service is up and running, your target machines will need to have a network card, that is PXI-boot enabled.

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I've done it in the past and its not fast and with OS's getting bigger and bigger I wouldn't try it these days. It was a popular way to install Debian and I believe you can still do it. You have to boot a minimal installer then pull all the packages across the net. A place I worked at a couple years ago they made custom Windows installs and would distribute the ISO to all the remotes sites. They experimented with network install. Again it required a special boot disk that connected back to HQ and then pull all the CAB's and config info across the net. It was a slow process so ended up only used it later for very special install they didn't want to distribute ISO's for.

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Even if your network and servers are fast, installing an OS over the network could slow things down. I would recommend doing it after hours, or when the network is not in use.

Or simply burn the image to a CD/DVD which is a much faster process.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Debian lets you install over the internet, Open or NetBSD as well I think?? They start as small shells and you pick the packages you want and it installs them, usually as headless servers, no gui. Haven't done that in a few years though. These days, most everything is a live disc and installs some form of desktop format.

Edited by digip
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I'm doing this right now. I have no physical access to the machine I want to install Ubuntu on and it's over the net.

For an Ubuntu install over the internet the target machine needs to already have Ubuntu installed, have debootstrap working, already have SSH up and running and the disks need to be partitioned accordingly (before the install) for file transfers and actual os install. The remote partitioning is the tough part as you need to have the disk up while it's partitioning and if something happens there and the disk goes not much you can do.

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