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Installing CentOS 7 on PC Engines APU2C4

After gave up of running Raspberry Pi as my home server due to its instability and poor performance in cases relevant for me, I was looking for another solution which would also not be too expensive, yet which would provide stability and strengths in typical home server tasks. The typical home server tasks I call backup (NAS, Network-attached storage), multimedia server (photos and music), small automation projects and so on. Then I heard some stories about the incredible robustness of ALIX machines which work in inaccessible mountain areas for years and years without problems. The prices of those devices are also about right (~150 euros) and they are based on AMD's embedded CPUs, x86_64 which means running standard GNU/Linux distributions without restrictions. Therefore, I bought one. PC Engines ALIX APU2C4: 4-core 1 GHz CPU (AMD GX-412TC), 4 GB RAM, mSATA SSD, ... Just to mention that the power consumption of the device is ridiculously low - only 6-12 watts.

There is no video output on the board; thus a headless (unattended) installation of OS is necessary. I decided that the most flexible approach would be to boot CentOS with VNC (Virtual Network Computing) support enabled. Here is how I did it.

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` # mount /mnt/storage/Downloads/ISO/CentOS-7-x86_64-Minimal-1708.iso /mnt/iso/ ` - Copy its content to a temp location and unmont it: ` # cp -pRf /mnt/iso /tmp/centos && umount /mnt/iso ` - Edit boot parameters in isolinux/isolinux.cfg according to the RHEL documentation:

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  • add in line with the default append line following parameters inst.headless inst.vnc inst.vncpassword=MYPASSWORD
  • put the global timeout to 1

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  • Generate ISO from it where the string "CentOS7 x86_64" should match the label in isolinux.cfg (with "x20"s are replaced with spaces):

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` # genisoimage -U -r -v -T -J -joliet-long -V "CentOS 7 x86_64" -volset "CentOS 7 x86_64" -A "CentOS 7 x86_64" -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -c isolinux/boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -eltorito-alt-boot -e images/efiboot.img -no-emul-boot -o ../CentOS-7-x86_64-Minimal-1708-VNC.iso . ` - Convert the newly generated ISO to a format suitable for USB boot drives: ` # isohybrid CentOS-7-x86_64-Minimal-1708-VNC.iso ` - Implant a checksum of the image: ` # implantisomd5 CentOS-7-x86_64-Minimal-1708-VNC.iso ` - Finally, convert and copy the image to the USB memory drive ` # dd if=CentOS-7-x86_64-Minimal-1708-VNC.iso of=/dev/sdc ` - The boot procedure can be tested from the USB memory drive by using QEMU: ` # qemu-system-x86_64 -hda /dev/sdc -m 1024 -vga std `

That's it. By plugging the bootable drive in the board, the installation can be initiated. Use any VNC viewer (KRDC in KDE for example) to connect (port is either 1 or 5900) and proceed with the installation.

Docutils System Messages

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