One Line Dedicated Server Install With Zero Inconvenience To The Provider!

Not_OlesNot_Oles Hosting ProviderContent Writer
edited December 2023 in Technical

Dedicated server Providers often don't support fully automagic custom Linux or BSD installs. These Providers sometimes require an upload of a BSD or any custom install ISO, even a Linux ISO, to be done in advance by the Providers' Support Team. Other Providers require advance appointments for time limited access to virtual consoles. Moreover, even for dedicated server Providers who are enthusiastic about custom ISOs, the install systems provided for dedicated servers often are older Java based applications which are not always the easiest for clueless Low Enders to use.

So I've been looking around for an easy install method which would not inconvenience my Providers. I've tried several variations of installing from a virtual machine set up on the server. Setting up the virtual machines is fun! But it's time consuming and difficult.

I've also tried several variations of scripts intended to automate installs. These scripts are great, and they sometimes even work well.

For a while I've been thinking about a simpler approach which I first saw last year. The idea is simple. From the Provider's rescue system, or from any easy autoinstall, just write an image directly to one of the dedicated server's hard drives, and then reboot.

For FreeBSD, Martin Matuška has this idea well described on a blog page and on Github.

I think I spent a lot of time since last year on more complicated install methods because Matuška's idea seemed impossibly simple, fast, and easy. Just download and verify Matuška's image, then it's only a one line dd command to write the image to a disk, and reboot.

I finally tried Matuška's idea today. His image seems to work! At least the server booted, and I could log in. That's more than I can say for a lot of other installs I have tried. :)

Right now the installed system is RAM based, like Alpine Linux. As expected, like Alpine, memory based FreeBSD seems very fast!

I haven't yet tried Matuška's recommended zfsinstall tool. I haven't yet tried making my own image.

Although Matuška used FreeBSD, I suppose his install method might work with any Linux or with another BSD. No need to ask the Provider to upload an ISO! No need to make an appointment for a console!

I hope everyone gets the servers they want!

Thanked by (1)abtdw


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