[ipxe-devel] Thoughts about an enterprise use for iPXE

Floris Bos bos at je-eigen-domein.nl
Fri Mar 14 10:10:32 UTC 2014


On 02/21/2014 08:29 PM, Andrew "Arthur" Summers wrote:
> As I'm sure you're aware, no enterprise datacenter uses DHCP for its 
> systems. What's more, even if DHCP is used for backend interfaces, 
> this becomes a problem when NATs and subnets are part of the picture.
> Even more frustrating is the fact that reconfiguring a system or 
> attaching an ISO to an iLO or a VM usually requires involving a 
> different team, filling out a form, logging hours, and jumping through 
> a dozen or so hoops.

Do not really see having multiple VLANs as a problem, DHCP relaying 
("ip-helper address") is easy enough to setup on a L3 switches for this.
Note that datacenters that rent dedicated servers to the general public, 
do widely use DHCP/PXE during operating system installation (and set a 
static network configuration to be used afterwards).
If those tell a customer he has to fill in paperwork for something as 
simple as an operating system reinstall, he is going to shop elsewhere.

However we have looked into similar solutions to the one you are 
suggesting in the past for a different problem, namely that some 
(office) networks have other existing DHCP servers in them, that we 
cannot change the configuration of, and which conflict with PXE booting.

The main problems are:

- While iPXE is able to pass the static IP configuration easily to the 
installer of Linux distributions as kernel parameters, this is not the 
case for other operating systems. If you also want fully automated 
deployments of Windows and FreeBSD you have a problem.
- iPXE only works with the NICs it has drivers for when booted as ISO. 
While it works with practically every NIC when chainloaded through PXE 
by piggy backing on the boot firmware.

>   * Tool to generate iPXE ISOs with preseeded static IP information

Our idea was to simply use IPv6 and derive the IP used during 
installation from MAC, so you only need one iPXE image per network prefix.

Yours sincerely,

Floris Bos
( www.noc-ps.com )

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