ddrueding

Pxe Boot Server For Windows

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Looking for a PXE Boot server for windows, ideally it would include a compatible DHCP server and a simple method for mounting the .sys files.

I've found a few, but I'm hoping to find one for less than $150. Free would be much better.

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Sorry to spoil your thread, what would you need such a machine for?

(curious)

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Sorry to spoil your thread, what would you need such a machine for?

(curious)

I need to be able to do "Drive Image Management" on a bunch of machines with no floppy or optical drives on them. These systems will be publically accessible, so re-imaging will occur almost nightly.

Ghost Enterprise is a nice thing, but fricking expensive. If I can get the system to boot to a PXE server, than I can use other programs for the rest.

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Do you have a windows 2000 server or better? You could use RIS.

The server is running Win2003 Ent. Server. I don't have much experience with RIS, can it be set up as just a PXE box? I already have a drive image I want to deliver.

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Do you have a windows 2000 server or better? You could use RIS.

The server is running Win2003 Ent. Server. I don't have much experience with RIS, can it be set up as just a PXE box? I already have a drive image I want to deliver.

If you already have win2003 your all set...

Just get a copy of the 'windows xp pre-installation kit' (comes free with every pack of xp oem edition cd's) you can use that to build a baseline install of your machines.

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Well, these installs aren't what I would consider "baseline". I have 22 images, at about 20GB each. Each image is unique and I'd like a "one step" way to deliver this exact image to the machine. Considering the frequency of the restores, and the quality of staff that will be doing them, this is a must-have.

On the Symantec website it says that they no longer directly support PXE? That 3Com dropped development and it is now available as a third-party app? That sucks...

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symantec doesn't directly support pxe, but it is provided via 3com dabs which is a fine/stable/fully-featured pxe server. i use it daily.

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I'm almost there! The support docs aren't that great though....still playing with it.

yeah, i had tried this for a while, never got it to work though, but the problem was that my target machine only had an nvidia network adapter, which doesn't support PXE :/ such garbage.. networking built into the chipset, but not PXE... similar to my K7S5A, which did not support WOL with the built in adapter either :/

sorry for ranting :/

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RIS is free for desktops or servers (on a licensed W2K server), ADS is free on a licensed 2K3 advanced server for server image deploys only.

I've used both, and they're pretty good. ADS has software management and remote job scheduling, etc, so it's more tuned toward managing a server farm, while RIS is a deployment tool more geared toward desktops. We had a boot menu where you could select an image however.

With ADS, you can have a "base" image, and then schedule package installations after the base image is delivered, either through ADS, or via something like APF (AUtomated Purposing Framework) which uses manifests and look-ups to determine what to install for a given machine. All of this sounds more complex than what you are looking for, but it seems to work pretty well for complex server image / base build management.

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The systems I'm using have onboard Realtek 8110S GbE that supports PXE. I've even got it to log the attempt on the server using the TFTP program I quoted above. It succesfully pulls a DHCP address, then comes up with the following error:

NBT is too big to fit in base memory

Or something similar to that before booting to the next device (hard drive). The .sys file was created from Symantec Ghost 8.0 (trial) and ghost said it was specificaly for PXE clients.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

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Apparently, the Intel Boot Agent (which my NIC has, to access PXE) limits the size of the image to 512K. The image generated by Ghost is 3MB :(

I'm looking into MS RIS, but I'm not sure how to get it to deal with images...

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you're trying to boot the wrong thing, then. you boot a pxe bootstrapper image, which loads the virtual floppy image, which fires up ghost.

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you're trying to boot the wrong thing, then.  you boot a pxe bootstrapper image, which loads the virtual floppy image, which fires up ghost.

From my reading on this topic, I've come to the conclusion that to boot diskless into ghost requres the following:

1. A DHCP server capable of handing out the PXE-specific info (got it)

2. A NBP (Network Bootstrap Program) that will do...something

3. A ghost enterprise client boot disk image to send to the client...somehow

I'm really lost on step 2, can someone help me out? I've seen a few places where the source for a NBP is available, but I'm not sure it will do what I need it to do. And even if I was, I don't have any *nix knowledge to do it with :unsure:

Places I've found useful information:

NetBoot

EtherBoot

PXE-Toolkit

Nilo

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using dabs you use the "boot image editor" to create a "pxe menu boot file". in it you specify a filename which is your floppy image file (part 3), and it takes care of the rest.

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I was hoping to have a proof of concept running before I ordered Ghose Enterprise, but DABS isn't part of the trial download. :angry: I've ordered it, hopefully I can get it to work before we open on Saturday.

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Ok, I was wrestling with this exact same thing yesterday. I was reading this whole thread saying, yup, went there, yup, been there. Yup, figured that out.

Here is where I am at:

I firmly believe there are NO freeware pxe boot servers for windows. They only exist for unix and eventhough that is the route I would choose, the shop I am in is anti-linux eventhough I could easily support it.

3Com Boot services are no longer available and do not come with Ghost. It hasn't been since 7.0 AFAIK. It has been replaced by Argon's PXE services which cost a TON of money for what it does!

The program too big to fit in memory is indeed a bootstrap vs floppy image issue. The bootstrap has to be under 512k, but the floppy image, I believe can be up to 16Mb in size from what I have read, but since it emulates a floppy, I thought 2.88Mb was the limit. Since ghost 8.0 creates a 3Mb image file (ghost.exe is a whopping 1.4Mb itself) I don't think I am right about the 2.88 limit.

RIS is indeed a PXE server. However, the machine running RIS HAS to be either a member server in a domain, or a domain controller! So my ghost standalone 2k3 server is now a AD server. :(

Also, RIS has to have 2 partitions, or 2 drives. One for the system, and any other one for the RIS images. You can NOT put the images on the same drive/partition as the system. So, I can't get RIS configured at all. Stupid RIS! Plus, that is WAY to complicated for ghosting, takes 20x the time, doesn't retain settings without a TON of customizing, etc.

I actually got the PXE nic to boot the ris setuprom.com bootstrap file, then it needs ntldr (I used the 2k3 one from c:\), and it stopped at a grey screen since I didn't have any of the other files like a menu or the images. I just didn't know what came next. The ntldr I knew it needed because it was asking for it on the tftp server after the setuprom.com.

I dug through some of our older disks and found ghost 7.0 and it had a 3com boot services cd with it. I just installed it and sure enough, it has a pxe server, a menu creator, etc. Good stuff. It will fix my problem, but still isn't a freeware PXE server like we want.

So please let us know if you get the 3com boot services cd with your new copy of ghost 8.0, or even the argon technologies official replacement tool.

Hope this helps,

Chris

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ris is only a ris solution, not a general pxe solution. i can use ghost to create fully-functional single (1.44mb) floppies. i'm reading about the argon thing now. it would suck for others to pay for that just to get functional pxe. glad i've got dabs already, as it works fine...

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So please let us know if you get the 3com boot services cd with your new copy of ghost 8.0, or even the argon technologies official replacement tool.

You got it....you have me worried now :unsure:

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