"In creating Ubuntu Linux, Canonical has focused on
ease of use, and this extends to the install procedure. To this
end, Ubuntu eschewed many of the detailed questions that had
discouraged potential Linux users of an earlier era. However,
despite relative improvements in that area, the installation is
still peppered with questions. This means that an admin tasked with
the deployment of more than three or four computers is doomed to
spend an entire morning dashing around, typing in responses to the
same questions over and over again.
"Fortunately, there is a solution in the form of unattended
installs. An admin can alter a standard Linux distribution so that
it no longer asks the user questions while installing. Obviously,
the installer will need the information that it normally acquires
by prompting the user for details, and the trick is to provide this
information in advance in the form of what is called an 'answer
file'. It's possible to divide automated installs into two main
categories: customised CD-ROM and network installation. Both
approaches have their relative strengths and weaknesses.
"As with most things on Linux, there is more than one system
that you can choose from, but we're going to use something called
Kickstart. Kickstart is an automatic install system that started
life on Red Hat-derived Linux distributions, but it's supported on
Ubuntu. It comes with a GUI tool to create the configuration file,
making it very simple to use. Let's start with a quick breakdown of
its core settings…"
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