PXE: Not Just for Server Networks Anymore!

Using a combination of open-source technologies, you can build an unattended network-based OS installer that can save you huge amounts of time and even can install Windows.

Bill Childers is the Virtual Editor for Linux Journal. No one really knows what that means.


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Using Abbreviations Indiscriminately

~weatherguy's picture

It is foolish and acts as a point of abandonment for a technical article not to have the acronym or abbreviation identified. It requires the reader to have the specialized vocabulary as part of their working vocabulary. Those who might eventually come to trust your message are tempted to abandon your article when it has acronyms and abbreviations that have not been identified at the first use.

In most scholarly or technical writing--other than the Internet--there are standards for what is allowable in technical writing. Not adopting some standard for minimum levels of communication both in writing and in what amounts to a complete explanation in a tutorial is an egregious lapse.

It will cost you readers and credibility.


FOG Server a possible PXE solution for some

Anonymous's picture

Some may find a FOG server may be suitable (http://www.fogproject.org/) for managing windows images. It lives nicely in a PXE environment as well.

As far as Windows SPs &

Anonymous's picture

As far as Windows SPs & drivers go, you just need to slipstream them into the install image using something like nlite (XP - http://www.nliteos.com/) or vlite (Vista - http://www.vlite.net/) - works beautifully, even for the real PITA drivers like strange SATA raid controllers that you'd normally manually need to load from floppy.

The Windows unattended

T-One's picture

The Windows unattended installations are very interessting but without vista and server 2008 support not useable for a systembuilder like me.

LTSP with dnsmasq

Kenneth Finnegan's picture

I don't know if it's just me, but I couldn't get your dnsmasq conf lines to work in Tomato 1.23. I'd expect it to need the /ltsp/i386/ prefix, but even with that, it didn't work for me. However, I stopped pounding on it when I got this to work instead:
Thanks for putting me on the right track though! It's so much easier not having to manually switch CAT5 cables and configure multiple interfaces + another DHCP server every time I want to boot one of my hosts off another (broken CD drives + multiple users on main desktop mean I use this a lot!).


Josh's picture

I worked w/ the enterprise version of Ghost a year or so back. All of the docs said that PXE-style imaging was supported, but through multiple support calls, I was finally informed that it wasn't gonna happen...I spent a LOT of time trying to get it to work. (Granted, it probably *was* possible, but I wasn't smart enough/skilled enough/etc.)

That being said, I am extremely happy to see this. All of our machines at work are currently able to PXE boot, but we don't have the budget to purchase any high-end imaging stuff. I'm really, really excited about this article, and I can't wait to try it. Thanks so much for the article!


nfsmount error

senshikaze's picture

If you are runnign the LTSP server on a Debian Etch/Lenny machine, make sure to set the windows DHCP option "017 Root Path" to "/opt/ltsp/i386" (minus quotes) to get rid of the "nfsmount: need a path" error.
Also, if your server is running on AMD64 (x86_64), run this command "sudo ltsp-build-client --arch i386" to make a x86 compatible image.
Thanks for the article, Mr. Childers. Will see if I get images installed instead of an unattended install of XP (we have ALOT of programs installed by default). Good article.