From time to time I'm playing around with different Unices, mostly free ones like *BSD and Linux and wonder how easy it is to have an automatic installation.

Preample: There's only one way to do it

My expererience as a sysadmin is that the only way to scale out installations is via network install: USB sticks, cdroms or floppies just require too much manual work. As most installations need network connectivity anyway, there is no need to rely on these old fashioned, non scalable methods.

Network install

If an (unix) operating system supports network install, it should require only a TFTP server. The reason for this is that for network installations using PXE a TFTP server is required anyway.

After the installer is running, it can definitely use the usual methods to retrieve components like packages (i.e. HTTP, NFS, etc.), but this not require me, as a sysadmin, to setup any additional service.

The challenge

Now I'm sitting in front of some computers and I'm wondering how easy it can be to setup these boxes with different Unices automated.

Current status

I've started the cuni project some time ago to learn about the unix installers and I'm aware of at least Kickstart for Redhat/Fedora, Preseed for Debian/Ubuntu and Fai for Debian. I guess there are many other out there and I'm wondering how easy it is for every Unix to get into a complete unattendet, autoamated installation.

Help appreciated, comments and critics welcome

I'm aware that this is a bigger project, but at the end it would be very useful for sysadmins maintaining small and large infrastructures to be able to have one way to rule them all.

So if you are an expert of $Unix and know how to automate the installation of it via network, just drop me a mail.

I plan to extend cuni to be able to create automated installation environments, as soon as I've collected the necessary information on how to do so.