[H-GEN] PXE capable network cards

Scott Burns sburns at ihug.com.au
Fri May 28 20:45:21 EDT 2004

Jason Parker-Burlingham wrote:

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>Scott Burns <sburns at ihug.com.au> writes:
>>    does anyone know of or work for a company that sells PXE capable
>>network cards that do not require BIOS support to boot?  Brisbane in
>>general and northside/Lutwyche a definite bonus.
>I don't know about availability in Brisbane, but I'm using an Intel
>Pro/1000 MT adapter.  I think it may not require BIOS support because
>it's in a pretty old machine; the BIOS doesn't mention anything about
>booting from a network.
Thanks.  I'll have a hunt around and see what I can find.

>But, geez! PXE is a pain in the ass to set up.  The whole thing seems
>far too complex.  That's PCs for you though, I suppose.
I got it running with two files and one directory...

/tftpboot/pxelinux.0 IIRC gets downloaded first.  This then looks for a 
few files, I have all PCs grab /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default which 
essentially contains a syslinux config file. 

The only file I maintain is the default file.  It is set up to boot from 
hard drive on hitting Enter or timing out after 60 seconds.  Otherwise, 
the user can choose to boot up one of three diskless workstation images, 
install RH9 in one of four preset configurations, or upgrade/install FC1 
with no presets.  I'm intending to add memtest86 soon.

With this setup I can install one of our stock configurations by 
installing a PXE network card if required then choosing the option from 
the PXE loader.  An hour later it's installed, users are configured, 
profiles are set up, custom software is installed and it's pretty much 
ready to go out the door.

When one of my workmates accidentally deleted /etc then screwed their 
chances of undelete by copying someone else's back onto their machine, 
all we had to do for a reinstall was copy their /root/anaconda-ks.cfg 
over then boot to this through PXE.  A cup of coffee later they were 
ready to start synching users (still working on usermin which should 
have done this for us).

I know that more advanced PXE setups exist but you can get away quite 
lightly.  If you install a set of standard images it's worth putting a 
mornings work into.

The other packages I had to use were DHCP to get the IP address and boot 
image, tftp to allow downloading the files, then nfs to allow access to 
the diskless root drives and RPMs/Base packages.  Having configured 
these on SCO Openserver to allow Linux diskless workstations to boot off 
of it, I can tell you these are trivial to set up under Linux.

If you want, I can email you my default PXE file next week.


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