<br /> Installing Debian Without Physical Access – Debian Planet

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    Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Submitted by Anonymous on Tuesday, June 18, 2002 – 16:20
    DebianWe have a Linux server at Verio (Alexandria, VA, USA). This server was given to us with RedHat 6.2 (as Verio does with any Linux server). We want to install Debian on it, but we’re in Spain and we cannot travel to the States.
    Does anybody know if there is a reliable way to install Debian on a remote machine (for instance, a self-installable bootable CD)? It should only ask for the IP, gateway, etc. and automatically create partitions, install a minimal system and enable ssh so we can access it and finish the installation.
    Category: Q & A

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: bonjan
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 11:58
    The main problem is that we need to be sure that the only thing we will need from Verio’s staff is rebooting the machine in case it does not boot properly, since any other work would be charged to us at $175 per hour.

    We will try it sometime in this summer and post here the results (and if we success, the detailed steps we followed 🙂 ).

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: PaN
    Date: Thursday, 2002/06/20 – 13:36
    I think best option is using a partition available as the swap partition as someone has indicated in the thread (the one starting with the swapoff…)

    Just one point, it would be sensible to do an ‘append=”panic = 30″‘ in lilo.conf so that in case of a kernel panic it would automatically reboot in 30 seconds.

    Good luck!

    And see you by the FiB 😉

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: miek
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 11:51
    I’ve once installed Debian over an existing Mandrake system, guess this is somewhat the same.
    If written down the procedure I followed on:
    http://www.miek.nl/old/miek.nl-old/projects/debian-mandrake.shtml
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: locke
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 11:46
    There are a very easy way to do what you want.
    1. Install a Debian on a any PC.
    2. Configure on way that at least the network will work. Be carreful, you need to configure the network/hardware as if you think you a running on a destination server. See bootcd package documentation.
    3. Install a boot-cd package.
    4. Run disk2bootcd.
    5. Send a resulting CD to US (or if you prefer upload the iso).
    6. Ask soemone to boot from this CD.
    7. Yo can access to the machine, which will running from the cd, by whatever method you chossed/installed (ssh,telnet rlogin,etc…).
    8. Once you logged into the server run bootcd2disk.
    9. Reboot from disk, and you got it: Debian installed on the server.

    It’s very easy and its working pretty well for me 🙂

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: teenoo
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 09:46
    I don’t think a debootstrap.rpm exists, but you can create it with the sources and a tool like Checkinstall. This step passed, via ssh, you can:
    – install it on your remote RH server
    – create a new partition for your Debian system
    – run debootstrap to install the base system on the new partition, and then login via chroot in order to finish the configuration.

    I don’t know if it works or if it’s the perfect way (Any Guru feel free to comment), anyway test it on a machine you have physical access to.


    Teenoo

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    Subject: Try this
    Author: Dwonis
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 06:00
    Hack a netinst CD so that it immediately sets up the network connection and runs sshd. Then you can run the installer remotely. 🙂
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: Thing
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 04:17
    I’d probably go for the untaring debian-base.tgz, approach mentioned by others, but I definitely advise having a few things as staticly linked binaries before you start (sshd and sash as a bare minimum) so that if you manage to do something like overwrite /lib/ld.so before you’re ready, you can survive your dynamic libraries going off line.

    I did that years ago, while upgrading from slackware to Debian (“rex” IIRC) over a PPP link, so was very glad I’d happened to compile static ssh binaries, which let me scp the relevant files in place, despite no longer having things like cp, or mv (or much else for that matter) at the other end.

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: boecko
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 20:49
    I’ve converted SuSE-Box over SSH without creating a new partion.
    Following steps:

  • get dpkg and apt source and build it
  • get a sources.list
  • run apt-get update
  • apt-get install libc6
    these is a bit tricky, you have to use some force-options
  • install the rest of the base + your desired packages

    after that, i did a
    find -mtime +200 -exec rm -f {};
    because it was a fairly old SuSe (6.2).

    new kernel-image and reboot ….

    and it worked!!

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: SirEdward
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 19:06
    I’m not sure whether or not rsync will delete extra files. If it does, it might be a good idea to install Debian on a system you have access to and then install rsync on the RH machine and sync it to said Debian machine.
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: SirEdward
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 19:14
    It appears that it does (see the –delete option). Here’s the man page with some interesting examples:

    http://samba.anu.edu.au/ftp/rsync/rsync.html

    Enjoy.

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    Subject: Forgot to mention…
    Author: SirEdward
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 19:18
    If you try this, you should probably be careful with the kernel symlink in /
    You should probably leave the RH kernel and just copy the contents of the debian /boot into the directory without using rsync. You may also need to edit lilo.conf (or grub’s config file, if you’re using it).
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: l0l0
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 19:02

    swapoff -a
    mke2fs /dev/swappartition
    mount /dev/swappartition /newroot
    cd /newroot && tar -zxf debian-base.tgz
    vi etc/network/interfaces
    cp /etc/resolv.conf etc
    vi etc/lilo.conf
    lilo -R /newroot
    chroot .
    apt-get install ssh
    exit
    reboot

    Basically use debootstrap – Try it locally to install a new debian in your swap partition @home until you are comfortable with it and dont forget to install ssh in it. After that your converting of the remote whatever version is simple. After rebooting you dont have swap which should be ok to simply overwrite the old installation with your basic debian install and reboot into that. mkswap your old swap partition with the debian mininstall in it and swapon …

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: waaaaaah
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 18:18
    I installed Debian over ssh from home on a computer at work alreading running mandrake. It’s actually not that difficult at all.

    I followed this procedure:

    1) Login using ssh (duh)
    2) Create partitions and mount them under e.g. /mnt/debian
    3) download base2_2.tgz. This file contains the basic file system layout that is also used when installing debian using the “convential” method.

    You can download it from every debian mirror e.g.
    http://ftp.at.debian.org/debian/dists/stable/main/disks-i386/2.2.26-2001-06-14/base2_2.tgz

    4) cd /mnt/debian
    tar xzvpf /base2_2.tgz
    Don’t forget the “p” option! Otherwise the sticky bit isn’t set for /tmp which leads to frustration (trust me on this).

    5) Copy /etc/resolv.conf from your working distro to /mnt/debian/etc.
    6) chroot /mnt/debian /bin/bash
    7) . /etc/profile
    8) configure /etc/apt/sources.list and apt-get update. At this point you can even dist-upgrade to testing/unstable

    9) edit /etc/hostname
    10) edit /etc/network/interfaces
    11) edit /etc/fstab
    12) install ssh

    AND VERY IMPORTANT IS:
    delete /sbin/unconfigured.sh otherwise when you boot your shiny new debian system, a message is displayed about the unconfigured state of the machine (which isn’t true at all in our case). I’m not sure anymore if it is possible to login over ssh if it still exists. Delete it to be safe.

    Then you should configure grub/lilo of your new Debian system or just modify the one on your “host” system.

    Leave chrooted env, umount everyting, reboot.
    Fingers crossed 😉

    It’s a good idea to practice this procedure on a local network before you take the plunge!

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: ironstorm
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 03:45
    Just curious…

    Wouldn’t you also want to an adduser when you are chrooted so you can login to the system when it boots… maybe also set the root password?

    -Ironstorm

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    Subject: re-partition the hard drive from remote
    Author: kipple
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 17:25
    I’m just thinking about it, I never tried that.

    You’re acting from remote, ok? So you can

    0. install the debian you want on a local hard drive and tar it
    1. ssh into the remote server
    2. resize the hard drive of the remote server
    3. partition it
    4. mount the partition
    5. upload the tar you made before and unpack it into the partition
    6. configure the debian inside the partition (the /dev filesystem, the configuration files, and so on)
    7. mark the partition as bootable
    8. install lilo by using the config file of the new debian (check the relative paths)
    9. then reboot from remote?

    IF everything goes smoothly at reboot the debian partition will be the bootable one and will start, and IF you managed to configure everything well (network, and such) you’re set.

    I think it can be done, but it has to be VERY carefully planned, especially if you don’t want to scare the sysadmins of the colocation with the ‘beep’ of the server rebooting 🙂

    issues: you could have used chroot, but I don’t know if a remote chroot breaks the ssh connection or not. If it doesn’t, you’re set. Gotta try it.

    let me know at my address [kipple at muug dot it] how it went, or feel free to contact me

    redegards

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    Subject: Re: re-partition the hard drive from remote
    Author: NetVicious
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/07/03 – 09:46
    Take care about adding the /proc and /devs dirs to the tar.
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: jbailey
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 17:25
    I do conversions of machines from other Linuxes to Debian in place (as a fee service). If you practice it on a local box a few times you can work out most of the kinks.

    Most of the trick is being good with cruft, and really understanding the boot process so you don’t wind up with an unbootable machine that’s 3 timezones away.

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    Subject: remote conversion to debian
    Author: jay binks
    Date: Monday, 2002/09/02 – 00:20
    how much do you charge for this service ??
    how can I contact you to do it for me ?
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: godog
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 16:59
    There’s an interesting thread about this on boot-floppies about new debian-installer. Btw you can try to use FAI to do the thing but there’s not much about this topic on google 😉

    filippo.

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: termos
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 16:59
    It could be possible to download debian to the
    HD, boot the installer from floppy and install from
    HD. If you can’t boot, I think you could boot from
    the network.
    I am not seeing the problem, or is it so hard that I cant even imagine it? 🙂
    You dont have a floppy drive? Oh, my.
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: CentrX
    Date: Wednesday, 2002/06/19 – 04:36
    where’s this floppy disk coming from if they don’t have physical access?
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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: SeeFood
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 16:56
    There was one debian/sid one-shot CD image by Marc Volovic, but it seems he pulled it off the net. you may consider building your own one-shot CD (should not be hard) or another option will be to build a partition of everything you need, including sshd and net configuration, tar it up, upload to the redhat server, format an available partition as the new root, untar your initial system there, set it to boot with lilo the next time (read the lilo MAN page, you can set it to try the debian root once and then default back to the Redhat if it doesn’t work)

    now boot into the Debian. if the machine goes up and works, fix the lilo for always-debian and continue from there. if it gets stuck, ask the hosting service to hit the reset, fix the problem and repeat.

    instead of a pre-installed tar, you could also load an ISO on the RH machine and do the official installation process in chroot, but that requires a little more knowledge of the debian installer, and frankly I doubt you benefit from that. safer to upload a mini-system tar.

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: ipslore
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 17:35
    (A) Do you have a duplicate model of the server there in Spain? While not as fancy as remote install and configuration, you could:

    1. build the Debian box there,
    2. tar/parted the Debian filesystems
    3. put them on a bootable CD that fdisks/untars/parteds the Debian filesystems onto the Red Hat box

    Most co-los offer “dumb hands at the cage” service. I’m sure a co-lo techie can handle inserting a CD and restarting the server twice.

    (B) Definitely not a technical answer to your question, but there’s a couple Linux user groups in the D.C. metro area that I’m sure you could tap a freelancer to do this for “expert hands at the cage”. Certainly if you only require the base system to be networked and running SSH before handling further installs remotely.

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    Subject: Re: Installing Debian Without Physical Access
    Author: Sparkster
    Date: Tuesday, 2002/06/18 – 16:48
    Funny, I had the same thought a few weeks ago when I got a new server with SuSE Linux…
    It would be so great to have it replaced with Debian or FreeBSD. But I can’t really imagine that it’s possible. I will probably ask my administrator later to do it (install a Debian minisystem) or rent another server.
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