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Friday, June 15, 2007

Installing Linux Fedora 7 over a Network

I wanted to upgrade a Linux Fedora 6 machine to Fedora 7, but I didn't want to download and burn a bunch of CDs and then feed these in and out during the upgrade. The machine does not have a DVD drive.

So instead I downloaded the DVD .iso version of Fedora (a single 3.2 GB file) and made that available from another server via NFS.

In order to perform the upgrade, I needed to boot the machine from a minimal Fedora installation so that it could fetch the full install via NFS.

The two simple options for doing this are to use a boot CD or to boot the system off a USB memory stick.

** I'm having problems booting from a USB stick in Fedora 7 so I'll leave that section out until I have things figured out**

Booting off a Minimal Linux CD

1. From the Fedora distribution site, download the minimal boot disk .iso file and burn it onto a CD. This file is called boot.iso and is about 8 MB.

2. Boot the target machine from this CD and follow the initial setup steps. In my case I wanted to perform an upgrade and I wanted to get the distribution via NFS. You can also use FTP or HTTP, which might be easier for some.

3. Using NFS, you will be prompted for the Ethernet interface that will be used, if you have more than one. Then you will be prompted to enter the network address of the host that contains the new distribution file and the path to .iso file.

Note that the installer is expecting to find the DVD .iso file at that location and not some unpacked version of Fedora. I would guess it will work if you have the set of CD .iso files but I've not tried that.

4. Assuming it can access the remote directory then the installer will get under way. It will first check dependencies between the new and old linux packages and then you will see the message 'Preparing transaction from installation source'. This is the stage where the remote .iso file is being copied over the local machine and mounted. If this succeeds then you should be home and dry.

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