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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Configure CentOS 7 PXE Server to Install Ubuntu 18.10

Configure CentOS 7 PXE Server to Install Ubuntu 18.10

In our previous posts, we have configured a PXE boot server that supports both BIOS and UEFI based clients. We have also configured our CentOS 7 PXE server to install RHEL 6 and RHEL 7 operating systems using Kickstart. Now, we will configure our CentOS 7 PXE server to install Ubuntu 18.10.

We will also create a Kickstart file for automated installation of Ubuntu 18.10 operating system, and ensure that it will support both BIOS and UEFI based clients.

Note: In this article, we are performing everything from CLI, therefore, it is highly recommended that, you should have Linux Pocket Guide: Essential Commands for quick reference.


Table of Contents:

Configure CentOS 7 PXE Server to Install Ubuntu 18.10

System Specification:

We use the same CentOS 7 machine that we have configured as PXE Boot Server in our previous article. These specifications have been re-mentioned below for convenience of the readers.

  • CPU - 2 Core (2.4 Mhz)
  • Memory - 2 GB
  • Storage - 50 GB
  • Operating System - CentOS 7.5
  • Hostname - pxe-server.itlab.com
  • IP Address -


Share Ubuntu 18.10 ISO/DVD contents via NFS Server:

Connect to pxe-server.itlab.com using ssh as root user.

Install NFS packages using yum command.

# yum install -y nfs-utils

Start and Enable NFS service.

# systemctl start nfs-server
# systemctl enable nfs-server
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/nfs-server.service to /usr/lib/systemd/system/nfs-server.service.

Create a directory for sharing Ubuntu 18.10 ISO.

# mkdir /nfsshare
# chown nfsnobody:nfsnobody /nfsshare

Allow NFS and relevant ports in CentOS 7.5 Firewall.

# firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service={nfs,mountd,rpc-bind}
# firewall-cmd --reload

Adjust SELinux Permissions.

# semanage fcontext --add -t nfs_t '/nfsshare(/.*)?'
# restorecon -Rv /nfsshare/
restorecon reset /nfsshare context unconfined_u:object_r:var_t:s0->unconfined_u:object_r:nfs_t:s0

Export /nfsshare directory for all clients.

# echo "/nfsshare *(ro)" >> /etc/exports
# exportfs -r

Attach Ubuntu 18.10 Server ISO/DVD and mount it at /mnt/iso (you can use any mountpoint, according to your choice).

# mount -t iso9660 /dev/cdrom /mnt/iso
mount: /dev/sr0 is write-protected, mounting read-only

Copy contents of /mnt/iso directory to NFS server.

# cp -rf /mnt/iso /nfsshare/ubuntu18


Create a Kickstart file for automated installation of Ubuntu 18.10:

We have to write a Kickstart file for Ubuntu 18.10 within the /nfsshare/ubuntu18/preseed/ directory, so it can be accessed by PXE clients via NFS service.

# vi /nfsshare/ubuntu18/preseed/ubuntu.seed

A sample kickstart file is given below, you can modify it according to your requirements.

# Enable extras.ubuntu.com.
d-i     apt-setup/extras        boolean true
# Install the Ubuntu desktop.
tasksel tasksel/first   multiselect ubuntu-desktop
# On live DVDs, don't spend huge amounts of time removing substantial
# application packages pulled in by language packs. Given that we clearly
# have the space to include them on the DVD, they're useful and we might as
# well keep them installed.
ubiquity        ubiquity/keep-installed string icedtea6-plugin openoffice.org
#System language
lang en_US
#Language modules to install
langsupport en_US
#System keyboard
keyboard us
#System mouse
#System timezone
timezone Asia/Karachi
#Root password
rootpw --disabled
#Initial user (user with sudo capabilities)
user ubuntu --fullname "ahmer" --password ahmer1234
#Reboot after installation
#Use text mode install
#Install OS instead of upgrade
#Installation media
nfs --server= --dir=/nfsshare/ubuntu18/
#System bootloader configuration
bootloader --location=mbr
#Clear the Master Boot Record
zerombr yes
#Partition clearing information
clearpart --all --initlabel
#Basic disk partition
part / --fstype ext4 --size 1 --grow --asprimary
part swap --size 1024
part /boot --fstype ext4 --size 256 --asprimary
#System authorization infomation
auth  --useshadow  --enablemd5
#Network information
network --bootproto=dhcp --device=eth0
#Firewall configuration
firewall --disabled --trust=eth0 --ssh


Copy boot images to tftpboot directory:

The Boot images in the Ubuntu ISO won’t work for network boot  Therefore, we downloaded netboot images from Ubuntu website.

# wget http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/cosmic/main/installer-amd64/current/images/netboot/netboot.tar.gz
--2018-11-17 11:09:13--  http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/cosmic/main/installer-amd64/current/images/netboot/netboot.tar.gz
Resolving archive.ubuntu.com (archive.ubuntu.com)...,,, ...
Connecting to archive.ubuntu.com (archive.ubuntu.com)||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 56245393 (54M) [application/x-gzip]
Saving to: ânetboot.tar.gz.1â

100%[======================================>] 56,245,393   179KB/s   in 7m 23s

2018-11-17 11:16:40 (124 KB/s) - ânetboot.tar.gz.1â saved [56245393/56245393]

Extract download TARBall.

# mkdir netboot
# tar xf netboot.tar.gz -C netboot

We need to copy initrd.gz and linux files from netboot directory ~/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64/ to /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/ubuntu18 directory. These files will be referenced in the menu entry of PXE boot menu.

# mkdir /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/ubuntu18
# cp ~/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64/{linux,initrd.gz} /var/lib/tftpboot/networkboot/ubuntu18/


Create Menu Entries for Ubuntu 18.10 installation:

Edit PXE boot menu for BIOS based clients.

# vi /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default

Add a menu entry for Ubuntu 18.10 installation therein.

default vesamenu.c32
prompt 0
timeout 30
menu title Ahmer's PXE Menu
label Install RHEL 7.5
kernel /networkboot/rhel7/vmlinuz
append initrd=/networkboot/rhel7/initrd.img inst.repo= ks=
label Install RHEL 6.0 (64-bit)
kernel /networkboot/rhel6/vmlinuz
append initrd=/networkboot/rhel6/initrd.img inst.repo= ks=
label Install Ubuntu 18.10 Server
menu label Install Ubuntu 18.10 Server
kernel networkboot/ubuntu18/linux
append vga=788 initrd=networkboot/ubuntu18/initrd.gz ks=nfs: --- quiet

Edit PXE boot menu for UEFI based clients. For more information on UEFI, please refer to Add UEFI Support to PXE Server in CentOS 7.

# vi /var/lib/tftpboot/grub.cfg

Add a menu entry for Ubuntu 18.10 installation in this file.

set timeout=60

menuentry 'Install RHEL 7.5' {
        linuxefi /networkboot/rhel7/vmlinuz inst.repo= inst.ks=
        initrdefi /networkboot/rhel7/initrd.img

menuentry 'Install RHEL 6.0' {
        linuxefi /networkboot/rhel6/vmlinuz inst.repo= inst.ks=
        initrdefi /networkboot/rhel6/initrd.img

menuentry "Install Ubuntu 18.10 Server" {
        set gfxpayload=keep
        linuxefi        /networkboot/ubuntu18/linux inst.repo=nfs: inst.ks=nfs:
        initrdefi       /networkboot/ubuntu18/initrd.gz

Now, connect a BIOS based PXE client to network and boot it. It will display the following PXE boot menu.


Similarly, connect a UEFI based PXE client to network and boot it. It will display the following PXE boot menu.


We have successfully configured our CentOS 7 PXE boot server to install Ubuntu 18.10. You can also add other versions of Ubuntu in similar manner.

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  1. Good morning i’m having a difficulties installing Ubuntu thorugh network share on client. I followed centos tutorial working like a charm. Then i configure kickstart.. made it automated install of centos working fine.. now i’m trying to do multi PXE boot server. So i’m following this guide. So my first question do i have to use NFS server? Can’t i use same vsftpd share? I made a directory in /var/ftp/pub/crntos for centos and for ubuntu i made /ubuntu to share the whole image.. i used your kickstart configuration and i made some changes in there based on my network. Actually PXE boot screen coming fine i select ubuntu from the list its starting the installaion.. it found the ip from dhcp and start. But getting some nameserver error. I wish i can post the image so i can get you the right error... can you please suggest if you understand the situation. I’m learner so you take your time whenever you get a chance. Thankyou

    1. Hi,
      Answers to your questions are:

      1) Yes, we can use FTP or HTTP instead of NFS.
      2) Please check the NFS command in your kickstart file. May be you have used a hostname in place of IP Address. Please use an IP Address and check again.

      If the problem persists then please contact me on Facebook.

  2. Can I make the PXE boot menu time longer? Say 30 seconds instead of 5?

    1. Yes, Please set timeout in /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default file.

  3. hello Sir,
    You have used here Ubuntu18.04 Server but i want Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop How i can do that??

    1. I will try to write on this topic soon.

    2. I need this, too. I can't find any instructions on the Internet。

  4. could not find kernel image vesamenu.c32

    1. vesamenu.c32 is in netboot.tar.gz. Please download netboot.tar.gz file, as mentioned above.

  5. Thank you for your post.

    ```menuentry "Install Ubuntu 18.10 Server" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linuxefi /networkboot/ubuntu18/linux inst.repo=nfs: inst.ks=nfs:
    initrdefi /networkboot/ubuntu18/initrd.gz
    saved me a lot of time

  6. I was trying to connect all parts together and i'm getting kernel command not found.

    1. Please discuss it in detail at our Facebook Page.

  7. This is use for Ubuntu 20.04

  8. Hi, Amher,
    I try this for Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS,
    Ubuntu 1804 can be net boot, but after the boot, it is not automatically installed according with the ks file, and the installer stops at the first step to select the language; what could be the problem?

    1. It looks like your PXE configurations are working fine. The problem pertains to Kickstart and you may need to recreate the Ubuntu ISO after customizing some files in it. Search for unattended installation of Ubuntu and you will find many useful posts on the topic.


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