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Webboot Is Becoming Quite Useful For Quickly/Easily Booting ISOs From The Web

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  • Webboot Is Becoming Quite Useful For Quickly/Easily Booting ISOs From The Web

    Phoronix: Webboot Is Becoming Quite Useful For Quickly/Easily Booting ISOs From The Web

    The Webboot project has been in development now for more than one year as an easy means of booting Linux ISO images from the web. From this minimal boot environment users can configure their network connection and download a new ISO or use a pre-existing ISO. From there Webboot allows kexec'ing into that ISO for booting it up...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...-Boot-Web-ISOs

  • #2
    This is one of those projects where I'm not sure what they are trying to solve; at first I thought it solved the issue of being able to load a full ISO from the internet using a size-constrained device and without the need to install something on the host. But from the slides it sounds like they allow you to download an ISO to the USB device their environment runs on and then boot the ISO once downloaded.

    This means its essentially the same as any boot-ISO-from-USB solutions that already exist except for the need to pre-install the ISO on the USB drive, so instead of doing that when making the stick, I could wait for the download once I already need the (emergency) system-on-a-stick which unetbootin or others also provide... I don't get it.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cyberwizzard View Post
      This is one of those projects where I'm not sure what they are trying to solve; at first I thought it solved the issue of being able to load a full ISO from the internet using a size-constrained device and without the need to install something on the host. But from the slides it sounds like they allow you to download an ISO to the USB device their environment runs on and then boot the ISO once downloaded.

      This means its essentially the same as any boot-ISO-from-USB solutions that already exist except for the need to pre-install the ISO on the USB drive, so instead of doing that when making the stick, I could wait for the download once I already need the (emergency) system-on-a-stick which unetbootin or others also provide... I don't get it.
      Not exactly. Its software deployment problem. Even that its downloaded and cached the ISO every time you use this it showing you want the current version is and give you a option to download and use that. This can be important in a deployment setup as you don't want to go around deploying something that is out of date with known security flaws currently being exploited as this is basically a kick me sign. The one thing I did not see in there is can it update itself I hope so.

      Basically there is a small weakness to that ISO on a USB key method that this looks like it part fixed. Fully fixed if it includes update self as option as well.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by oiaohm View Post

        Not exactly. Its software deployment problem. Even that its downloaded and cached the ISO every time you use this it showing you want the current version is and give you a option to download and use that. This can be important in a deployment setup as you don't want to go around deploying something that is out of date with known security flaws currently being exploited as this is basically a kick me sign. The one thing I did not see in there is can it update itself I hope so.

        Basically there is a small weakness to that ISO on a USB key method that this looks like it part fixed. Fully fixed if it includes update self as option as well.
        Then why not install an OS to a USB drive, keep that updated, and have it setup so it replicates itself onto the host machine for installs if you have to have an installed OS that is that up to date? Not to mention that places like Debian that say (paraphrased), "Don't bother with an updated ISO unless it increases a major version like 9 to 10 or 10 to 11. If it's a 10.2 to 10.3 just use your existing ISO and update the system after installing."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by skeevy420 View Post

          Then why not install an OS to a USB drive, keep that updated, and have it setup so it replicates itself onto the host machine for installs if you have to have an installed OS that is that up to date? Not to mention that places like Debian that say (paraphrased), "Don't bother with an updated ISO unless it increases a major version like 9 to 10 or 10 to 11. If it's a 10.2 to 10.3 just use your existing ISO and update the system after installing."
          That doesn't work if you need hardware enablement updates.

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          • #6
            Imagine if you from a web browser could visit a website that says "Copy & paste this into your terminal: webboot https://iso.example.com/ubuntu-20.10-desktop-amd64.iso" and you just copy the command and paste it in your terminal like GNOME Terminal.

            Or if you visited a website in your web browser and clicked on a special hyperlink with a webboot URI scheme. Like webboot://iso.example.com/ubuntu-20.10-desktop-amd64.iso and the webboot URI handler runs the webboot executable with the ISO as the parameter.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by skeevy420 View Post
              Then why not install an OS to a USB drive, keep that updated, and have it setup so it replicates itself onto the host machine for installs if you have to have an installed OS that is that up to date? Not to mention that places like Debian that say (paraphrased), "Don't bother with an updated ISO unless it increases a major version like 9 to 10 or 10 to 11. If it's a 10.2 to 10.3 just use your existing ISO and update the system after installing."
              Does not work out that way that you can use replication. There are times you need clean installs. Replicate it to the host machine does have fragments of old hardware configurations to clean up.

              There are CVE fixeds in debian installers from time to time. If you have used debian for long enough you have seen point releases where its new install media. Yes other times they will be telling you its not required. Its been awhile one of the past ones was the broken openssl that could have resulted in debian installer downloading and installing invalid packages. So it is important to know if there is a new point release to what you have so you can check the point release notes if you should update.

              Also newer hardware does need newer versions due to needing more updated kernels as well.

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              • #8
                webboot http://rootkit.org/rooty_tooty.iso

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                • #9
                  So the main difference from https://netboot.xyz/ is that this one opts for a temporary bootable OS that uses that kernel feature to chain boot the ISO? As opposed to netboot using iPXE (Which I don't think supports wifi as well as Webboot might?).

                  I assume like netboot, you can use iPXE if natively supported by the system instead of creating external media to boot from (although it seems webboot needs local storage to download/load the retrieved ISO from?)

                  The load ISO from local storage is pretty much covered by Ventoy, but as someone mentioned one perk might be the retrieving the latest ISO from the web. So I guess it's a bit of a mix between Ventoy and netboot (but with better with wifi support)? Possibly not as nice to configure though.

                  Originally posted by uid313 View Post
                  if you visited a website in your web browser and clicked on a special hyperlink with a webboot URI scheme. Like webboot://iso.example.com/ubuntu-20.10-desktop-amd64.iso and the webboot URI handler runs the webboot executable with the ISO as the parameter.
                  You kind of get that with TFTP and iPXE, minus the browser in already running environment. You can type the URI and boot from that, or with something like Ventoy, you just download the ISO and add it to the partition it uses for data and it gets listed as a boot option instead of having to use dd, etcher or whatever to flash the ISO to the external media.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by polarathene View Post
                    You kind of get that with TFTP and iPXE, minus the browser in already running environment. You can type the URI and boot from that, or with something like Ventoy, you just download the ISO and add it to the partition it uses for data and it gets listed as a boot option instead of having to use dd, etcher or whatever to flash the ISO to the external media.
                    PXE boot and/or TFTP was what I was thinking when I read about this. Seems a bit like IPMI as well (but without the extra hardware)?

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