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I am no expert on this issue, I am maybe even using the wrong technical term. Anyway, my goal is this: to install a new OS from a server that has the installation documents etc so some settings in boot-loader apparently. I would like to install FreeBSD here but I am lacking physical mediums to install it. Is there any easy way to upgrade the system through network (as far as I have understood, this is what the PXE is for)?

Perhaps related

  1. http://superuser.com/questions/397646/cloning-fresh-windows-7-fsed-hdd-to-linux-server-because-having-no-external-hdd
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PXE can be used to download a small install ramdisk on which the computer will boot and usually let you install the OS on a physical drive. It requires setting up a DHCP server on the LAN and a TFTP server accessible from your host. Most of the time you will have to edit your BIOS parameters to let your computer try to boot on the network. PXE is not that convenient now that you can download and burn an image in 10 minutes, I got many issues with FreeBSD installer while downloading packages, I would advise against PXE or network install for it (it should work now though). –  Aki Jul 20 '12 at 0:32
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2 Answers

I've always installed OpenBSD via PXE and I think their docs on the matter are great.

http://www.openbsd.org/faq/faq6.html#PXE

It is the same process as with FreeBSD, but you might find OpenBSD's documentation clearer and easier to follow. OpenBSD's installer lets you install core packages from remote http or ftp as well so you are free to host your own install files locally. If you're not committed to FreeBSD at this point you may want to just try out OpenBSD first.

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A colleague of mine wrote a blog about this here. It's quite some work, because you need several other services in order to bootstrap the installation. He also uses puppet which makes it quite fancy. But he describes the configuration of the needed components in detail. Hope this helps!

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