Just recently, the development group that I work with decided to adopt Linux as our standard operating system for the server-side of our project. Linux is a great choice of server OS for many obvious, and not-so-obvious, reasons. It's extremely flexible, stable, and secure, and works on just about any hardware out there. Anymore, it's also very compatible with any other well-known desktop operating system, so you can integrate it with the Windows or Apple machines that you might already have. However, installation of the Linux OS could be an overly interactive nightmare, plagued with dangers of poorly burned CDs.

No more.

It was recently pointed out to me that Fedora Core (I'm not sure how many other distros have this capability. I only use Fedora. Please don't flame me.) has the ability to install via an FTP or HTTP server. All you need is a good copy of disk 1 of the install media, and the rest can be downloaded on-the-fly. This is achieved by using the command "linux askmethod" at the boot prompt right after booting from the first install disk. This installer will then load, and you will be prompted on what your source will be (i.e. hard drive, FTP, HTTP...), then you be required to give network information (i.e. do you use DHCP or static IP?), then you will be asked to provide information about where the install files are actually located. A more detailed look at the process can be found on RedHat's Fedora website. If you look under the Fedora Core 6 Installation Guide, Section 3.3. Installing from a Server or Web Site, you'll get a better idea of what the process is like. Also, check out Section 7.2. Alternative Installation Methods. This page, and subsequent pages, give screenshots of all the screens you will see while using this method of installation. Finally, a list of FTP and HTTP sites that host mirrors of the installation media can be found here.

Of course, if you choose to install Fedora Core using the network method, you must have a fast, reliable connection to the internet. I have done this quite a number of times using broadband cable internet with a great deal of success. It takes an average of 3 hours to install the operating system and all of the software included with the distribution, but it eliminates all user interaction, so you can just set up the install and walk away.

Do a google for installinux (not quite sure about the spelling) - you can chooose from many distros and choose your mirror and additional options on the website then download a small unattended netinstall image