I am trying to have a server used for a test platform configured such that it can be easily rebooted and reinstalled with our test OS, so that we can consistently get a clean environment to work with.

I have an iso file which contains the image, but I'm not sold on the best way to approach getting said iso onto the system.

Some ideas that have been rejected thus far:

iDRAC - we're using a dell server with iDRAC, but it doesn't have the management card, so remotely booting from an iso isn't available

PXE - trying to avoid setting up another server on the network to serve the boot info

The current thought is to partition the hard drive and dump the iso into the second partition. The BIOS would default to booting from the first partition (where the operating system would be installed), and then the second partition. To reinstall, we would nuke the first partition from the running system (presumably using dd to overwrite the boot sector), but it seems like a rather obnoxious setup. The kickstart on the install iso could (hopefully) be modified to deal with any partition setup we end up using.

Has anyone faced a similar problem and, if so, how did you solve it?


This might be a little bit beyond what you're trying to do, but have you considered using a virtualized server?

We had the exact same goal - setup an OS to test on, configure it to a baseline, test a few things then nuke it from orbit when we're done and start over. For us, we found ESXi with VM's to be easiest by utilizing VMWare's snapshot feature. We could configure a machine, take a snapshot, test changes, and then revert to that snapshot instantaneously. Their snapshots can even capture RAM, so the state is identical to when you took the snapshot.

Our setup was a simple desktop (with compatible hardware) running ESXi with a local 192.168.x.x link to another desktop next to it. We ran the various vSphere agents and remote access tools (ssh, VNC, RDP) from there.

The added benefit is we could test with various virtual hardware configurations (number of CPUs, RAM, etc) AND we could test multiple setups at once/switch between test cases easily.

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