Proxmox ISCSI installation

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iSCSI is a protocol that can communicate SCSI's commands over the network. The main advantage is that you don't need any hard drives for getting a fully functional server. This can be also realized by using a real Fiber Channel SAN, but it's a lot more expensive. A diskless server will boot over the network, acquiring its disk image from the SAN. Today, a lot of systems support iSCSI but they don't really support iSCSI install and boot (only VMWare supports that). However, you can making this work on some Linux systems using a few tricks explained here.

What do you need?

  • A functional iSCSI target (OpenFiler can be a good solution)
  • Your diskless server must support iSCSI boot (if not, you can use iPXE for that)
  • A DHCP server for network booting

You can find some tutorials about iPXE (formerly gPXE) on the gPXE wiki.

Here we go!

  • Install a clean Debian on a physical machine or into a VM. Using a VM is not a problem because we only need this for formating and installing another Debian on the iSCSI target.
  • Install open-iscsi
apt install open-iscsi

This utility manages to attach an iSCSI target to the session.

  • Attach the iSCSI target
iscsiadm --mode node --targetname <IQN> -p <IP> --login

You should now see your iSCSI target into /dev/sdX.

iscsiadm --mode node --targetname -p --login
  • Create all partitions you need for your future Debian installation (you can use gpart for example).
The first partition must begin at the 2048 sector !!! If don't, you will not be able to install Grub on the iSCSI target!
  • Create a dir under /mnt (for example /mnt/debian) for mounting
  • Mount the iSCSI target's main partition on this dir
mount /dev/sdX1 /mnt/debian
  • Install debootstrap
apt install debootstrap

This utility manages to install a light debian install by using deb packages in the target.

  • Install debian stretch on /mnt/debian by using debootstrap
debootstrap stretch /mnt/debian

You should now have a right lightweight Stretch install on the main partition

  • Mount this system's dirs - this is necessary for preparing the new stretch installation for iSCSI booting.
mount -o bind /dev /mnt/debian/dev
mount -o bind /sys /mnt/debian/sys
mount -o bind /proc /mnt/debian/proc
  • Use now this Debian by using chroot (by a sn user who can change the root dir by another dir).
chroot /mnt/debian

You are now logged on to your new system

  • Install Grub
apt install grub

It should install Grub into the MBR of your iSCSI target. If not, you can use grub-install /dev/sdX

  • Add the Proxmox repository and update
echo "deb stretch pve-no-subscription" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pve-install-repo.list
wget -O /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/proxmox-ve-release-5.x.gpg
apt update
  • Add the loopback interface (if not, you will not be able to use nfs-common which is needed by the pve-manager). For this, edit:
nano /etc/network/interfaces

and append this to it:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback
  • Install the proxmox kernel and headers
apt install pve-kernel pve-headers

This action should update grub automatically.

  • Install open-iscsi for making this installation fully supports iSCSI
apt install open-iscsi
  • Use open-iscsi to manage iBFT information (iBFT are information made by iSCSI boot firmware like iPXE for the system)
echo "ISCSI_AUTO=true" > /etc/iscsi/iscsi.initramfs

By using this, you don't have to use the iSCSI IQN and the iSCSI Target's IP to access the system; only iSCSI boot firmware needs this.

  • Install initramfs-tools and update initramfs
apt install initramfs-tools
update-initramfs -u
  • Create a root password

Your new Debian system should now boot over iSCSI! Once booted you can install Proxmox by simply using:

apt install proxmox-ve ntp ssh lvm2