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pxe_dust (20) Versions 1.2.3

Configures local bootstrapping and installing operating systems via PXE booting.

cookbook 'pxe_dust', '= 1.2.3', :supermarket
cookbook 'pxe_dust', '= 1.2.3'
knife supermarket install pxe_dust
knife supermarket download pxe_dust
Quality -%


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


Requires Chef 10.12 or later since it now uses the full-chef installer.


Tested on:

  • Ubuntu 10.04-12.04
  • Debian 6.0


Required: apache2, tftp

Optional (recommended): apt (for recipe[apt::cacher-ng]).

pxe_dust Data Bag

In order to manage configuration of machines registering themselves with their Chef Server or Opscode Hosted Chef, we will use the pxe_dust data bag.

% knife data bag create pxe_dust
% knife data bag from file pxe_dust examples/default.json

Here is an example of the default.json:

    "id": "default",
    "arch": "amd64",
    "version": "12.04",
    "user": {
        "fullname": "Ubuntu",
        "username": "ubuntu",
        "crypted_password": "$6$Trby4Y5R$bi90k7uYY5ImXe5MWGFW9kel2BnMCcYO9EnwngTFIXKG2/nWcLKTJZ3verMFnpFbITI9.eHwZ.HR1UPeKbCAV1"

Here are currently supported options available for inclusion in the default.json.:

  • arch: Architecture of the netboot.tar.gz to use as the source of pxeboot images, default is 'amd64'.
  • version: Ubuntu version of the netboot.tar.gz to use as the source of pxeboot images and full stack clients, default is '10.04'.
  • domain: Default domain for nodes, default is none.
  • run_list: Run list for nodes, this value is NOT set as a default and must be explicitly set for all boot types.
  • netboot_url: URL of the netboot image to use for OS installation.
  • bootstrap: Optional additional bootstrapping configuration. http_proxy: HTTP proxy, default is none. http_proxy_user: HTTP proxy user, default is none. http_proxy_pass: HTTP proxy pass, default is none. https_proxy: HTTPS proxy, default is none.
  • user: crypted_password: SHA512 password for the default user, default 'password'. This may be generated and added to the data bag. fullname: Full name of the default user, default 'Ubuntu'. username: Username of the default user, default 'ubuntu'.
  • root: crypted_password: SHA512 password for the root user, default 'password'. This is used on Debian since Ubuntu does not have a root.

Additional data bag items may be used to support booting multiple operating systems. Examples of various Ubuntu and Debian installations are included in the examples directory. Important to note is the use of the addresses option to support tftp booting by MAC address (this is currently required for not using the default) and the explicit need for a run_list if one is to be provided.



Sets the boot prompt to automatically run the installer.


Sets the URL to the preseed file, architecture, the domain and which interfaces to use.


The preseed file is full of opinions, you will want to update this. If there is a node providing an apt-cacher-ng caching proxy via recipe[apt::cacher-ng], it is provided in the preseed.cfg. The initial user and password is configured. The preseed finishes by calling the chef-bootstrap script.

This is the preseed/late_command that bootstraps the node with Chef via the full stack installer.



The default recipe includes recipe pxe_dust::server.


recipe[pxe_dust::server] includes the apache2 and tftp::server recipes.

The recipe does the following:

  1. Downloads the proper netboot.tar.gzs to boot from.
  2. Untars them to the [:tftp][:directory] directory.
  3. Instructs the installer prompt to automatically install.
  4. Passes the URL of the preseed.cfgs to the installer.
  5. Uses the preseed.cfg template to pass in any apt-cacher-ng caching proxies.
  6. Downloads the proper full stack installers for the chef-client.


Add recipe[pxe_dust::server] to a node's or role's run list. Create the pxe_dust data bag and update the defaults.json item before adding it.

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

mkpasswd -m sha-512

The default is the hash of the password ubuntu, if you'd like to test. This must be set in the pxe_dust data bag 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.


node['pxe_dust']['chefversion] the Chef version that pxe_dust is currently serving up

node['pxe_dust']['installlatest'] always refresh and use the latest chef installer available, defaults to true

License and Author

Author:: Matt Ray
Author:: Joshua Timberman

Copyright:: 2011,2012 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,
See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
limitations under the License.

Dependent cookbooks

apache2 >= 0.0.0
tftp >= 0.0.0

Contingent cookbooks

There are no cookbooks that are contingent upon this one.

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