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Configures a tftpd server for serving Ubuntu installers over PXE and setting them to run a provided preseed.cfg.


Written and last tested with Chef 0.10.0 and Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10.


Attributes under the pxe_dust namespace.

  • ["pxe_dust"]["arch"] - Architecture of the netboot.tar.gz to use as the source of pxeboot images.
  • ["pxe_dust"]["version"] - Ubuntu version of the netboot.tar.gz to use as the source of pxeboot images (e.g. 'lucid', 'maverick')
  • ["pxe_dust"]["user"]["fullname"] - Full name of the default user, default "Ubuntu".
  • ["pxe_dust"]["user"]["username"] - Username of the default user, default "ubuntu".
  • ["pxe_dust"]["user"]["crypted_password"] - SHA512 password for the default user, default nil. This must be generated and added as an attribute or you won't be able to login.



Sets the boot prompt to automatically run the installer.


Sets the URL to the preseed file.


The preseed file is full of opinions, you will want to update this. If there is a node providing an apt-cacher proxy via the [apt::cacher] recipe, it is provided in the preseed.cfg.



The default recipe passes through to pxe_dust::server.


The server includes the apache2 and tftp::server recipes.

The recipe does the following:

  1. Downloads the proper netboot.tar.gz to boot from.
  2. Untars it to the [:tftp][:directory] directory.
  3. Instructs the installer prompt to automatically install.
  4. Passes the URL of the preseed.cfg to the installer.
  5. Uses the preseed.cfg template to pass in any apt-cacher proxies.


Create a role, pxe_server.

name "pxe_server"
description "PXE Dust Boot Server"
  "pxe_dust" => {
    "user" => {
      "username" => "ubuntu",
      "fullname" => "Ubuntu",
      "crypted_password" => "$6$Trby4Y5R$bi90k7uYY5ImXe5MWGFW9kel2BnMCcYO9EnwngTFIXKG2/nWcLKTJZ3verMFnpFbITI9.eHwZ.HR1UPeKbCAV1"

On an Ubuntu system, the password can be generated by installing the mkpasswd package and running:

mkpasswd -m sha-512

The example above is the hash of the password ubuntu, if you'd like to test. This attribute must be set to a valid sha-512 hash of the password or you will not be able to log in.

This cookbook does not provide DHCP or bootp to listen for PXE boot requests, this URL will have to be provided by another cookbook or manually. The author had to do this manually on a DD-WRT router.

Side note, for DD-WRT bootp support this forum post was followed. The key syntax was


in the section Additional DNSMasq Options where the IP address is that of the tftpd server we're configuring here and pxelinux.0 is from the netboot tarball.

License and Author

Author:: Matt Ray matt@opscode.com Author:: Joshua Timberman joshua@opscode.com

Copyright:: 2011 Opscode, Inc

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at


Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.