As I understand it, there are three ways to do a netboot install. I've previously written about installing Ubuntu by booting from files downloaded to your hard disk. It's also easy to do a netboot install from either a CD or a USB key, and the procedures are very similar.
All three methods are nice because they have small initial downloads (~10 MB); they then download the rest of your OS at install time. It's a waste of time to download a ~700MB CD image if you're going to upgrade half of your packages right after installation. (Software is usually out of date by the time you install it!) The netboot installers are also versatile. They will install, at your request, any (or all!) of the following: Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu server, Kubuntu desktop, Xubuntu desktop, Edubuntu desktop, and many more.
The hard disk method has the advantage that, of course, you don't need to use any external media. However, in my experience, the CD and USB key installers seem to be less flaky. Unlike a hard disk installation, they also work even if you don't have Grub already installed.
For either the CD or USB key methods, you can find the appropriate files here:
(This is for Jaunty/i386. If you want a different release or have a different architecture, adjust the URL accordingly.)
For CD installation: download mini.iso and burn it to your CD.
For USB media installation: download boot.img.gz and follow the instructions here. It will boil down to doing something like this:
# zcat boot.img.gz > /dev/sdX1
# aptitude install mbr
# install-mbr /dev/sdX
Then boot from your new media into the installer.
Labels: open source
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