I will first outline the requirements and how to get started with a network installation. Next I will walk through a network installation including screenshots for every step. I will also include text descriptions of each step and screenshot.
In order to install a machine over the network you’ll need the network installer image. Unfortunately these images are not well publicized, and rarely listed alongside the other .ISO images. For this reason I have included direct download links to the 32bit and 64bit images.
It is important that you download the network installer images from the same mirror that you will be installing from. These images are often bound to the kernel and library versions contained within the repository, and a mismatch will cause a failed installation.
If you’d prefer to use a different repository, simply look for the “installer-$arch” folder within the main folder of the version you’d like to install.
Once you’ve downloaded your preferred image you’ll need to write the image to a CD. This can be done from an existing Linux installation (Ubuntu or otherwise), by following the steps below:
- Navigate to your download location (likely ~/Downloads/)
- Right-click on the mini.iso file
- Select Write to Disk…
This will present you with an ISO image burning utility. Simply verify that it recognizes a disk in your CD writer, and that it has selected the mini.iso for writing. An image of this size (~12M) should only take a minute to write.
If possible, you may want to burn this image to a business card CD. Due to the size of the installation image (~12M), you’ll have plenty of room on even the smallest media.
Congratulations. You’re now the proud owner of an Ubuntu network installation CD. You can use this small CD to install an Ubuntu machine anywhere you have access to an Ubuntu repository. This can be a public repository or a local repository. If you’d like to create a local repository you may want to read the article on Creating a Local Ubuntu Repository using Apt-Mirror and Apt-Cacher, for additional information on creating a mirror or caching server.
To kick off your installation simply reboot your machine and instruct it to boot off a CD. This is often done by pressing a function key during the initial boot process. On many Dell machines this is the F12 button. Some machines are already configured to boot from a CD if present during the boot process. If this is not the case for you, please consult your BIOS settings for more information.
When the CD boots you’ll be presented with a very basic prompt. Simply press ENTER to continue.
This will then load the Ubuntu specific boot menu. For this article I selected Install from the main menu. The other options are beyond the scope of this tutorial.
This will load some modules and then start the installation program.
The network installer is purely text based. This may seem like a step backward for those used to the LiveCD graphical installers, but the text based nature allows for greater flexibility and advanced features. During the following screens I will outline what the prompts are asking for, and what additional options (if any) are available at each stage.
The first selection menu that you will be prompted with is the language menu. This should default to “English”. Of course you can select your preferred language as needed.
Second, to verify the language variant, you’ll need to select your country. Based on your first selection your menu may not appear with the same options as in this screenshot.
Third you’ll be asked to select or verify your keyboard layout. The installer will ask you if you’d like to automatically detect the proper keyboard layout. If you select Yes you will be prompted to press specific keys from a displayed list until it has verified your layout.
If you select No you’ll be prompted to select your layout from a list.