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FAI (Fully Automatic Installation) for Debian GNU/Linux

description taken from FAI's homepage at http://fai-project.org

FAI is an automated installation tool to install Linux on a Linux Cluster or a bunch of different hosts. It's similar but better than other tools like kickstart for Red Hat, yast and alice for ?SuSE or Jumpstart for SUN Solaris. FAI can install Debian, Ubuntu and also RPM based Linux distributions.

You can take one or more virgin ?PCs, turn on the power and after a few minutes Linux is installed, configured and running on the whole cluster, without any interaction necessary. Thus it's a scalable method for installing and updating a Beowulf cluster or a network of workstations unattended with little effort involved. FAI uses the Debian distribution and a collection of shell- and Perl-scripts for the installation process. Changes to the configuration files of the operating system are made by cfengine, shell and Perl scripts. Using FAI, unattended and fully automated OS installations of several Linux clusters were performed.

FAI's target group are system administrators who have to install Debian onto one or even hundreds of computers. It's not only a tool for doing a Cluster installation but a general purpose installation tool. It can be used for installing a Beowulf cluster, a rendering farm, a web server farm, or a Linux laboratory or a classroom. Even installing a HPC cluster or a GRID and fabric management can be realized by FAI. Large-scale Linux networks with different hardware and different installation requirements are easy to establish using FAI and its class concept. Remote OS installations, Linux rollout and mass installation are other topics for FAI. The Debian preseeding mechanism is also used in FAI, but this is only a small part of FAI installation routine. For hard disk partitioning, a configuration file similar to fstab is used instead of complicated preseeding files.

FAI is free software, distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2.

    deb http://fai-project.org/download squeeze koeln

('Comment:' I see no reason to not use FAI directly from Debian. The packages are recent.)

FAI can also be used after installation to update/admin system. This is called softupdates in FAI.