Linux Installs Made Easier

By Jason Brooks  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Instalinux.com's free service, SystemDesigner, helps users create installation images for Linux distros.

Instalinux.com is a handy Web site from which users can create customized installation images for a handful of different Linux distributions.

The site's service, SystemDesigner, is free, and administrators should find it particularly helpful when provisioning multiple machines—either physical or virtualized.

The Instalinux site was put together by former Hewlett-Packard employee Chris Slater, and SystemDesigner is based on HP's open-source Linux Common Operating Environment project.

During tests, Instalinux.com's SystemDesigner made it easy for eWEEK Labs to create network installer disks that were preconfigured with the software packages we wished to install on our target system, along with the repository from which we wished to fetch the packages and the network information our new system would require to get online and reach the repository.

Click here to read about how virtualization may be the path to Linux success.

We appreciated the option of having all available updates applied at install time. We also could choose to either set up our disk partition layout in advance or to take care of it interactively once we'd booted into our system's installer.

At Instalinux.com, users can create installation disks for CentOS 4.3, Debian 3.1 and 3.2, and Red Hat Fedora Core Versions 3 through 5.

The site also supports Novell SUSE 9.3 and 10, but not yet SUSE 10.1, as well as Canonical's Ubuntu and Kubuntu 5.10. The site does not support the latest Dapper Drake versions of Ubuntu or Kubuntu, however.

We could create installers for the x86 versions of each of the supported distributions; for the newer Fedora and Debian releases, we also could opt for x86-64 versions.

Instalinux.com's SystemDesigner acts as a front end to the automated install systems of the Debian, Red Hat and Novell SUSE distros, and it was interesting to compare the differing levels of customization that each automated installer offered.

For example, from the Instalinux.com interface we noted that Red Hat's kickstart installer enabled us to set the sizes for our swap and boot partitions, and to opt for our root partition to grow to consume the remainder of the disk space. For Debian-based install images, we weren't offered that option.

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Jason has been a member of the Labs staff since 1999, and was previously research and technology coordinator at a French economic development agency. Jason covers the mobile and wireless space, including mobile operating systems such as Palm, Windows CE, Symbian and Linux, as well as the devices that run them. Jason has performed some of the most comprehensive tests published to date of the nascent Bluetooth wireless technology, including interference testing among Bluetooth and other wireless technologies such as 802.11. Jason also provides analysis of the desktop computing area, including Windows, Mac and Linux operating sytems, as well as productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, StarOffice, Lotus Notes, GNOME and KDE. Jason's review of StarOffice received the most hits of any story published on www.eweek.com.

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