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Old 10-14-2008, 11:44 AM
Niki Kovacs
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Hi,

I'm running a small Linux consulting business here in a group of small
villages in the South of France (http://www.microlinux.fr). I'm using
CentOS for everything, servers as well as desktops. The desktop installs
are usually highly customized. My approach is to list the client's
needs, find the corresponding applications and then install these, to
avoid the bloat and increase usability. So far, this approach worked
quite well. One complete install and configuration takes about 4 hours,
depending on various factors such as bandwidth (internet is not very
fast in our remote places here) and sometimes exotic hardware that is
tricky to configure.


Yesterday I had a conversation with the boss of a computer store in
town. One of his standard PC models (desktop) is an ACER (PIV dual core,
3 GB RAM, 320 GB HD, ATI card) shipped with Windows Vista, and sold for
a price of 315 euros. He told me he would be very interested to sell
these machines with Linux installed, as this would allow him to lower
the price.


Now I wonder:

1) Say I want to install my own customized version of CentOS on it, I
usually charge a fixed amount of 240 euros for installing and
configuring a complete desktop, tailored to the customer's needs
(average: 4 hours of work = 60 euros / h). But I think that this is not
what's expected here (neither the price nor the amount of work). How
would it *technically* be possible to replicate these installs as easily
as possible? The hardware is always the same, so I wonder: I have a
vague idea about disk images (to be more precise: I know disk images
well as far as burning CDs on the commandline is concerned, or when it
comes to installing an OS in VirtualBox using the .iso)... but is there
a way to somehow transform an existing install into a disk image, and
then simply copy these over to all the other machines? (I've never done
this)


2) Otherwise, go for a more mass-oriented distro like Ubuntu, Mint or
the likes? What speaks for it: they can be installed very easily, insert
the CD or the DVD, fill in the form (username, password, hostname, there
you go). On the other hand, I've always been careful about picking my
applications in a "best of the breed" way, and I would feel like a
traditional taylor working for C & A.


3) Let's not forget about the users who are going to buy this. Whereas
folks can always be expected (more or less) to "administrate" their own
Ubuntu install, this looks less obvious with CentOS. Or let's say:
forums.centos.org is not exactly a newbie forum, at least compared to
Ubuntu. I guess your average newbie will not be very pleased with the
prevailing tone of competent techno-laconism (compared to Ubuntu or the
likes).


I'd be curious to read your suggestions about this.

Cheers,

Niki
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Old 10-14-2008, 11:59 AM
"Sorin Srbu"
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Niki Kovacs <> scribbled on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 1:44 PM:

>How
> would it *technically* be possible to replicate these installs as easily
> as possible?

G4u (Ghost for unix) is your solution. It's free.

Have a ftp-and dhcp server available on your network. Install one machine with
your preferred linux distro and tweak it as you want it. Boot from the g4u-cd
and ghost it to your ftp-server.

Boot from the g4u-cd on your next machine and dump the image from your
ftp-server to the new machine. Kudzu will take care of everything else. You
can do this with several machines at once. The nice thing with kudzu is that
your image will work even with a computer that does not have the same
hardware. Awesome is just scraping the surface.

I use this approach at our department. Works excellent.

HTH.

/S
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Old 10-14-2008, 12:14 PM
Rainer Duffner
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Niki Kovacs schrieb:
> Hi,
>
>

[snip... mass installation/customizations...]

> I'd be curious to read your suggestions about this.


Use cobbler.
https://fedorahosted.org/cobbler

You will have some work scripting your customizations (or not, if it's
already scripted) but then, you can install as many systems at once as
you have ports in your switches.

cobbler takes a bit of a learning curve, but once you've figured it out,
it's going to save you a lot of time (which is the whole point).


Rainer



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Old 10-14-2008, 12:21 PM
Kai Schaetzl
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Niki Kovacs wrote on Tue, 14 Oct 2008 13:44:19 +0200:

> How
> would it *technically* be possible to replicate these installs as easily
> as possible?

Kickstart. I wouldn't be so sure that CentOS would be the best choice for a
brand-new consumer desktop, though. You might want to use Fedora which is
also kickstartable.

Kai

--
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Old 10-14-2008, 12:34 PM
Les Mikesell
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Niki Kovacs wrote:
How
would it *technically* be possible to replicate these installs as easily
as possible? The hardware is always the same, so I wonder: I have a
vague idea about disk images (to be more precise: I know disk images
well as far as burning CDs on the commandline is concerned, or when it
comes to installing an OS in VirtualBox using the .iso)... but is there
a way to somehow transform an existing install into a disk image, and
then simply copy these over to all the other machines? (I've never done
this)


Clonezilla is probably the fastest/easiest way. There are 2 versions.
Clonezilla-live boots from a CD or USB drive and lets you save or
restore a disk or partition image using local or network storage via
nfs, sshfs, or samba. For windows and most linux filesystems it knows
enough to only save the used portions of the disk. You can also make a
bootable DVD containing an image to load. For large numbers of machines
there is the companion drbl to network-boot into clonezilla.
http://clonezilla.org/


--
Les Mikesell
lesmikesell@gmail.com

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Old 10-14-2008, 01:24 PM
"Sorin Srbu"
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Kai Schaetzl <> scribbled on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 2:21 PM:

> I wouldn't be so sure that CentOS would be the best choice for a
> brand-new consumer desktop, though.

Any particular reason why not, if I may ask? It works fine for my
computer-ignorant 50+ mom.

/S
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Old 10-14-2008, 02:31 PM
Kai Schaetzl
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Sorin Srbu wrote on Tue, 14 Oct 2008 15:24:59 +0200:

> Any particular reason why not, if I may ask?

Because other distributions have better support for brand-new consumer
hardware. Especially, if you consider the lifetime cycle of CentOS which
spans to 2014. Look at this not from the viewpoint of your mom, but from
the computershop that wants to sell lots of PCs to very different people
(which will expect to see *recent* software) and with (over the years)
quite differing hardware.


Kai

--
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Get your web at Conactive Internet Services: http://www.conactive.com



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Old 10-14-2008, 02:45 PM
Jens Larsson
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

> > Any particular reason why not, if I may ask?

> Because other distributions have better support for brand-new consumer
> hardware. Especially, if you consider the lifetime cycle of CentOS which
> spans to 2014. Look at this not from the viewpoint of your mom, but from
> the computershop that wants to sell lots of PCs to very different people
> (which will expect to see *recent* software) and with (over the years)
> quite differing hardware.
> Kai

But you don't want to supply consumers with an OS that gets unsupported
before next christmas either, so Fedora is not the answer. Ubuntu LTS?

/jens

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Phone: +46-13-281432, Mobile: +46-709-521432, E-mail: jens@nsc.liu.se
GPG/PGP Key: 1024D/C21BB2C7 2001-02-27 Jens Larsson <jens@nsc.liu.se>
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Old 10-14-2008, 04:26 PM
"Sorin Srbu"
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Kai Schaetzl <> scribbled on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:31 PM:

>> Any particular reason why not, if I may ask?
>
> Because other distributions have better support for brand-new consumer
> hardware. Especially, if you consider the lifetime cycle of CentOS which
> spans to 2014. Look at this not from the viewpoint of your mom, but from
> the computershop that wants to sell lots of PCs to very different people
> (which will expect to see *recent* software) and with (over the years)
> quite differing hardware.

I see. Good point. However, brand-new hardware support would mean something
like the bleeding edge Fedora (any other distro?). The disadvantage IMHO with
eg Fedora is it's short life-cycle though. What is it, a year or so now?

FWIW, I've installed CentOS on pretty new stuff, like dual core-mobos with
SATA etc, Broadcom integrated and Intel Desktop Pro/1000 NICs and so on. Works
fine, so I still don't quite see why it'd not be suitable with settling on eg
CentOS, especially if it's set up properly from the beginning by the shop. Did
you maybe have some special hardware in mind?

Maybe I'm blinded by CentOS running fine on whatever I throw at it so far...

/S
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Old 10-14-2008, 05:31 PM
Kai Schaetzl
 
Default Mass installs of desktop systems on identical machines

Sorin Srbu wrote on Tue, 14 Oct 2008 18:26:51 +0200:

> Did
> you maybe have some special hardware in mind?

No. I just wanted to point out that for such a task another distribution
*might* be better suited, that's all.

Kai

--
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