Automate OS install


I need to automate installation of 50 bare metal servers, the OS of choice is a non official linux distor. that is only available as an .iso image, these servers are cisco ucs c m240 series.

Is there a way to do that ?

What we are doing today is using the server management plane (CIMC) to launch a console session that is booting from the .iso image and we walk through the install steps and give a new password at the end, everything else is done later.


It helps to split the architecture into two pieces, one half that provisions from the OS on up, which is what Chef is great at, and then another half that provisions from the OS on down (provisions BIOS, partitions hard drives, installs drivers, etc.).

Since it’s not easy to automate the hardware console (CIMC), what you may want to consider using is a PXE boot server like Halon/Cobbler/Foreman/MAAS that serves up the .ISO image along with a kickstart/preseed/whatever to automate the install steps for configuring the OS.

If there is only one OS/hardware configuring, you can make this the default configuration that is served up through the PXE boot server, and just blast a config where you use mkisofs to repackage your OS with everything preconfigured and you don’t even need to bother with a kickstart/preseed/etc.

Otherwise, most people create a kicker iso that registers a machine with a website where you can choose what configs to deploy to which MAC address on your network. This is what tools like Hanlon/Cobbler/Foreman/MAAS can do for you.

Then Chef can provision everything else from the OS on up after you get the OS provisioned on each machine.

Oh, and I might add that PXE booting the installation DVD and customizing the install using a kickstart/preseed/whatever will be much faster and more reliable that the method you are using with the CIMC.

You might have noticed that CIMC media is highly unreliable and buggy if you’re using it a lot.

You could automate it by having serial over lan enabled and running an application you can get from Cisco that allows you to fire up a daemon that the CIMC lvm virtual media can mount. This is what you might already be using. But you are probably noticing that it is really slow and unreliable.