PXE for the masses

I was curious a while back after looking at my computer boot up to see it trying to get information on how to boot from the network using PXE. This wasn’t a good time of course because what was happening to the computer was an absence of a hard disk made it go through the order of places to find an operating system and when it came up empty it went to a network boot.

The problem was minor because in building the computer I hadn’t yet plugged up the hard disk but this gave me an idea. What neat tricks could I make a computer do if I could just get it to boot up and get its operating system. Needless to say I did a lot of internet searching and found bits and pieces of how to netboot the computer from my server(a good one was https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/WindowsServerNetboot). Needless to say that the floodgates are open.

I got it to work and now I’m thinking of all the things I can do. Entering a machine’s MAC address into my dhcp.conf file can make it boot off of my server and possibly do all kinds of things. I heard of one guy who had lots of Windows computers to install or repair. He had a computer boot up and just start installing Windows on the hard drive. That’s a cool feature for those who have to setup clusters, classrooms, or repair pc’s.

zonbox.jpgMy current obsession is a classroom made purely out of little diskless PC’s. The company Zonbu has a cool one though that they’re selling as a service that they remotely support and put applications on. I’ll definitely keep you posted on any cool ideas I come up with for it.

108 Responses to “PXE for the masses”

  1. Mr Zonbu says:

    I share your fascination with the Zonbu and for the last month I’ve been blogging about the details of using the Zonbu as a day-to-day desktop PC.

    You can read more on my blog: http://mrzonbu.wordpress.com/

    I’m interested in learning more about your project.

    -Mr. Zonbu

  2. phillip says:

    Thanks Mr. Zonbu. I’ll check that out. They look like great machines for my needs.

    Also, no sooner did I put up my article than Howtoforge puts one up on the same subject. Read about PXE at http://www.howtoforge.com/pxe_booting_debian .

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