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I'm trying to configure unattended Ubuntu Desktop (12.10) installations booting from PXE. I've got it working, but since I had to use the initrd.gz and kernel from the mini iso, it appears only to be able to install from an HTTP repository. I'm using kickstart and preseed to do the actual install, and as I said it does work, but it takes a long time since it has to download all the packages.

I have the full 12.10 ISO and I'd like to be able to PXE boot and do an unattended installation (with custom partitioning scheme) using the packages from the installation CD (i.e., not a remote mirror). I looked in the install image and saw that everything's in a single squashfs file, so I mounted that but have no idea if it's possible to use the files inside that to do the install.

It looks like one solution is to use apt-mirror to setup a full repository mirror, and then configure preseed to use the local repository for the install. This seems pretty straightforward, but requires setting up a 100 gig repository, when all the files I want for the base install are on an 800 MB ISO already.

I have a second PXE option which just mimics booting from the Ubuntu CD. It drops you to the desktop, and you double-click the "Install Ubuntu" icon and go through the whole procedure. This works but isn't unattended.

So to summarize, I want to

  • Netboot
  • Do an unattended (no prompts) installation with custom partitioning scheme
  • Perform the installation using only resources on my LAN
  • Not setup a full 50-100 gig Ubuntu repo mirror

Is this possible?

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As a workaround, I setup squid as a caching proxy and pointed my preseed to that. The first install took about 50 minutes (since the cache was empty), but the second one finished in about 15 minutes. This isn't really ideal, but I guess it's something. –  Evan Feb 7 '13 at 17:33

1 Answer 1

You can set up a local mirror server and serve the "dists" and "pool" folders from the CD, either directly or by copying them to disk. You would not need to actually run the "apt-mirror" script to populate the mirror folders.

If you wanted the latest updates, you could limit the "apt-mirror" configuration to just update the main and restricted sections, which are all that is on the CDROM. This would increase the disk usage to about 25GB.

Other suggestions may be to change the distribution point in the /etc/sources.list on the mini.iso system, or to just change /etc/hosts to redirect archive.ubuntu.com to a local address.


Using the proxy server was actually a pretty good idea, as it will tend to keep the files up-to-date automatically. It also handles future updates pretty efficiently. Kudos Evan.

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