FreeBoo: an Open Architecture for Network Dual Boot

Using FreeBoo, you can restore and boot different operating systems across a network and replace proprietary solutions such as Rembo.

The BP Batch Project, started at the Geneve University by Marc V. Stuckelberg and David Clerc, became a popular open implementation of the thin client. This approach evolved into the commercial Rembo suite, which is used in many labs with a significant licensing cost. FreeBoo uses a combination of existing open-source technologies, including BP Batch, to provide the main features of Rembo.

The hardware requirements for installing FreeBoo are just a dedicated server connected to client desktops by a LAN. Desktops need to have only boot-on-LAN capacities and local disk drives. All the software used is open source.

Future extensions of FreeBoo include the use of this technology for server software deployment; the development of a Web-based interface for easy administration of images, including database management; evaluation of the performance of the OS restoration process to improve it and to select the best option automatically (instead of having the user decide between the fast or full options); the insertion of multicast image recovery; and finally, the use of Wake-on-LAN capabilities to deploy secure images to desktops at preprogrammed times.

FreeBoo is only the initial step in building an open-source boot environment for system administrators that allows you to fix, deploy and execute OS images on large installations of desktops.

The scripts and other files related to FreeBoo can be found at

Cristina Barrado is an Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Catalonia, in Castelldefels, Spain. She has been teaching operating systems since 1990 and has advised a large number of master theses on Linux and Linux development. Her PhD was focused on automatic extraction of low-level parallelism in loops at compile time. Currently, she belongs to the Icarus Research Group, whose target is research on avionics systems for Unmanned Aerial Systems.

Sebastian Galiano is a Telematic Engineer with extensive OS and network services knowledge. Currently, he is working at UPCnet as project engineer in the Internet and middleware area.



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configure a small embedded Gentoo Linux with generic drivers ???

Anonymous's picture

but where to install ???

/dev/hda1 is Window$
/dev/hda2 is linux

Gentoon must be somwhere else.

/dev/hda3 -> swap
/dev/hda4 -> Gentoon ???

And how to make partitions.
Any tips to gparted ?


where to install

mjp5060's picture

If you are referring to the Gentoo Linux that the client downloads to act as the boot-loader and provide the foundation for the client side of the OS deployment/section then it does not go into a partition, but runs in memory as a diskless client. This way it can manipulate the hdd for the OS's you want to deploy.

On that note if anyone has a pre-compiled image of Gentoo already configured for the network boot with all the client side applications please let me know or post a link.

Another note to the authors, this is a great system. Your focus is to make things easy, might I recommend providing a build of the whole system that can be executed on the server and provide a basic/sample setup that can then be easy modified by people who would like to deploy your system.

Images not visible

Lucas Vieites's picture

Hi, the images in this article are not visible. I see they are PS files in an <img> tag. Is this OK for other browsers (Firefox 3 does not show them)

setup directions

mjp5060's picture

Is there a more detailed set of documentation for setting-up/configuring a system like this?

More information

Anonymous's picture

thank you

mjp5060's picture

I had given up on this project because of a lack of information, but today I felt like looking into it again and saw your reply. Thank you so much, and will look that pdf over this week.

configuration/user guide

mjp5060's picture

This pdf was very informative about the technology, but it fails to provide a systematic set of instructions/guide of how to configure a system. Do you guys not have a guide for your projects that lists/demos the minimum requirements of what needs to be setup/configured. You guys have done a great job designing and implementing this architecture, but it is hard to replicate do to lack of instructions.

DRBL and Sources

C.Barrado's picture

I do not agree about the similarity of DRBL with FreeBoo. In DRBL you can boot a Linux net image over a computer with a MS WIndows already installed. BUT, as far as I read, you can not download the MS Windows in the same way you do with Linux!!

For George: FreeBoo source code is really short. Just a bunch of scripts that you can find in the paper. But if someone (lazzy) needs them, you can download from

DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux) is quite similar...

Anonymous's picture

It includes Clonezilla SE (Server Edition).
The following is from and
Diskless Remote Boot in Linux (DRBL) provides a diskless or systemless environment for client machines. It works on Debian, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS and SuSE. DRBL uses distributed hardware resources and makes it possible for clients to fully access local hardware. It also includes Clonezilla, a partitioning and disk cloning utility similar to Symantec Ghost®.

Clonezilla, based on DRBL, Partition Image, ntfsclone, partclone, and udpcast, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla SE (server edition). Clonezilla live is suitable for single machine backup and restore. While Clonezilla SE is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously. Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the harddisk. This increases the clone efficiency. At the NCHC's Classroom C, Clonezilla SE was used to clone 41 computers simultaneously. It took only about 10 minutes to clone a 5.6 GBytes system image to all 41 computers via multicasting!

Join forces to build a Rembo/Mokafive replica

HenrikBach's picture

If there are some guys out there interested in joining forces for building a Rembo/Mokafive replica, count me in. We could setup a site on one of those floss sites...


Hi I'm Sebastian Galiano

sebbasman's picture


I'm Sebastian Galiano (One of Freeboo's authors), If you need any help you can count on me. About the tar.gz you are requesting, maybe I can help on that too. Do you need any specific file?

FreeBoo project

HenrikBach's picture

Hi Sebastian!

That sounds great, that I can count on you. First, Now I'm able to download the tar.gz. I'll return back later, or you can write to me at bach.henrik at gmail dot com.

I cannot download the files related to this article

HenrikBach's picture

I cannot download the files related to this article:

It seems that the folder containing the compressed archive doesn't exists.

Can you have a look at that?

ftp site

georgecorondan's picture

liked your system admin issue 180 but when i tried to get the code for:
FreeBoo: an Open Architecture for Network Dual Boot
there was nothing on your ftp site! do you guys need a sys admin :-) ?