Let's say that you're working on a strange machine with these limitations:
- You don't have physical access at all. You get a serial console, and a network.
- You get one of six Linux installs to work with, and
- A network-booted Debian install that doesn't touch the HDs at all.
Given that, say that you want to install a new unixy OS on the machine. Linux, BSD, Solaris, whatever. How do you do it? In gentoo, you would just:
- Boot from recovery image,
- Partition and format the HD as needed,
- Mount the drive in /mnt/new (/mnt/new/boot, .../home, etc),
- untar the gentoo stage-3 into /mnt/new,
- chroot /mnt/new
At that point, you're in an effectively identical environment to what you would get booting off of the Gentoo CD and following the install instructions.
Arch Linux, IIRC, can do a similar game, though it isn't as happy about it.
So, how about your OS of choice? I'm not really interested in NetBSD or OpenBSD, but I'd love to hear it if they'll do it.
If you can come up with a way to get a Windows on here, you're a pervert, but I'll give you upvote points for it.
(That's Frequently Made (Wrong) Suggestions)
- "Netboot the installer for something"
- That would work, but we're already netbooting the recovery disk. I don't have control over the server that does that, and I don't have anything that can win the BOOTP race.
- "Tell the hosting company to drop in the CD of your choice"
- That would be great, but their pricing model is based off of something I'll call "we don't touch your hardware". Also, they don't really like that I'm doing this, preferring that I run an OS that they
backdooredinstalled for me.
Edit: I realized this really should be a community wiki, since there's no "right" answer. I upvoted everyone who gave me an answer, thanks!