My home machine bit the dust recently so I replaced it with a barebones machine off of newegg. I didn't buy an kind of CD or DVD because I thought I'd be able to re-use a new IDE DVD writer. No such luck. I didn't check the specs carefully enough and the machine has only SATA connections. I tried booting off the same drive over an IDE-USB adapter I keep around for this kind of problem. The BIOS didn't recognize it. Getting this up and running over netboot was easy and just took a little bit of googling. I'm writing this blog entry as just another thing that hopefully helps someone else or maybe is just documentation for me a couple years in the future when I want to do this again.
I changed the machine's boot option to be PXE netboot instead of the local disk or USB. This step was probably entirely optional.
I gave the machine's MAC a static IP in dd-wrt. This step was probably entirely optional.
Following https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/Netboot, I set the dhcp-boot entry in the "Additional DNSMasq Options" text window on the web interface.
I followed the instructions on http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20070218233806794 to start a tftpd server on the macbook.
launchctl load -w
The Ubuntu netboot instructions at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/Netboot suggested that I could find a netboot package at http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/intrepid/main/installer-i386/current/ima
I unpacked http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/intrepid/main/installer-i386/current/ima
tar xzf netboot.tar.gz
The machine booted and installed just fine.
When I was done, I turned tftp back off:
launchctl unload -w