Even easier netboot installation…

A while ago I covered netbooting/installation on ubuntu, well I’ve now found an even easier way to do this! It’s probably the easiest way to go about this as it really only involves editing one config file. Some of the info here comes from the official Ubuntu documentation on this, though my approach is actually easier, since you don’t need a separate tftp server.

The main piece of software you will need is dnsmasq, which you can install with the command:

sudo apt-get install dnsmasq

I already had this installed as I’m using it as a DNS cache for my network (which is also pretty useful). It turns out that dnsmasq is a bit of a ‘swiss army knife’, it can do DHCP, DNS and TFTP all together and very easily. You should edit the config file:

sudo nano /etc/dnsmasq.conf Continue reading

A mobile electronic survey unit – A.K.A. A Cunning Use for Netbooks

Hi, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, mainly because I’ve been incredibly busy with Uni and work and haven’t had time for hacking on anything interesting at home. However, I’m going to tell you about a really interesting and quite novel use for netbooks that I’ve been setting up at work, hopefully someone else will find it useful and use it in a similar way…

A while ago my boss came to me with an idea. He wanted to purchase a number of netbooks and install LimeSurvey on each of them to be used as a mobile survey unit, that could be taken to schools, colleges, workplaces, etc. and used to collect data for research projects. I pointed out that if we were to install LimeSurvey on all the netbooks each would need an individual webserver and MySQL server, which apart from being a lot of effort would fragment the dataset and make it much more difficult to collect the data together.

Hence, I suggested that we setup one of the machines as the server and set it’s built-in Wifi to work as an access point for the others so they could access the server. This means that no external network access is required, you carry the server with you! Continue reading

PXE netinstalling for simpletons

Since posting this article I have found a much easier way to do this. This article is still great background information and goes into more detail if you want to take this further, but you should consider reading my new article.

Well, I promised something technical and here it is. It’s turned into a bit of a mammoth post, but the end result is pretty cool!

The idea of being able to install your favourite Linux distro over the network and so do away with burning CD’s (which ultimately get used once and then thrown away) is tantalizing. Not to mention the serious geek points for anyone who has a boot server on their network.

I started out using this article as a reference, as the process seemed relatively simple. However, I soon found out that this article wasn’t strictly accurate and didn’t explain some things too brilliantly! So I decided to see if I could do better.

The following is my account of setting up my own boot server on a spare box I had lying around (though you can just as easily do it on your main computer). I started from a base install of Ubuntu Server 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) which I installed in the normal way (i.e. from a CD). Continue reading