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PXE: Not Just for Server Networks Anymore!

Apr 03, 2009, 18:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bill Childers)

"In my mind, the Holy Grail of this PXE server even would be able to install Windows machines via the network. After a fair amount of trial and error, I finally figured out the recipe, and in a strange twist, I was able to automate a network-based Windows installation...by bootstrapping Linux first.

"Setting Up an Ubuntu Terminal Server

"I knew one of my goals for this system would be to give the users of my network an environment they could PXE boot to in a pinch—something that would appear familiar to them, as well as allow them the ability to perform basic tasks like check e-mail, surf the Web, instant message and so on. Luckily, much of our staff here runs Ubuntu on the desktop, so the decision to implement an Ubuntu Terminal Server using the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) was a simple one.

"Like any PXE implementation, the LTSP server requires a TFTP server, a properly configured DHCP server and the syslinux software. In a nutshell, the client boots; the PXE code in the network adapter runs; the machine gets a DHCP address and the address of a server to grab the syslinux code via TFTP; and then, it actually runs a TFTP client and downloads that code and executes it, starting the boot process. Thanks to the hard work of the Ubuntu LTSP maintainers, setting up the server was fast and easy."

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