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Old 11th January, 2010, 11:44 PM
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Install OS over network

I would imagine that it is possible to have a NAS storing ISO's. Is there some form of a boot disc which will boot the PC* use the network card and begin loading an OS from the ISO stored on the NAS.

I cant come up with a reason what this cant be done, just cannot seem to find any info.

NOTE: PC has no OS installed, blank HDD
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Old 12th January, 2010, 02:58 AM
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Look up details on PXE boot.
You need DHCP for the new PC's and a server setup to push a pre-configured OS install.

I did look it up at one stage but it was to much effort for home.
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Old 12th January, 2010, 06:00 AM
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I looked into that, but couldnt anywhere see that it would allow me to choose what ever ISO I wanted. Does it lack that functionality?
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Old 12th January, 2010, 05:35 PM
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What you are wanting to do is generally done using disk imaging software. As an example, Acronis Snap Deploy provides a PXE server that you can use to deploy a particular image to a particular client.

I'm guessing that what you want to do is be able to boot the PC, pick an ISO and have that ISO installed to the local drive? If so, you'll have to configure a PXE server with an application that can provide you with a menu and then put the image onto the drive. The application can be a DOS boot disk that boots up the disk imaging app. Within the imaging app then you can select what image you wish to deploy.

If what you want to do is actually boot the ISO, that's a whole different problem, because the first thing you've got to do is boot an application that is capable of mounting the ISO as a file system, and then boot that file system.

Windows offers the capability to boot from a network share: perhaps this is what you are wanting?
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Old 13th January, 2010, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmo View Post
I'm guessing that what you want to do is be able to boot the PC, pick an ISO and have that ISO installed to the local drive? If so, you'll have to configure a PXE server with an application that can provide you with a menu and then put the image onto the drive. The application can be a DOS boot disk that boots up the disk imaging app. Within the imaging app then you can select what image you wish to deploy.
This sounds about right, I wanted to avoid using boot disks though. But if I have to, I have to. I might look into Acronis as I have used its imaging software before.

Thanks Gizmo.
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Old 13th January, 2010, 11:08 AM
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The PXE server (DHCP+TFTP!) provides an image that gets loaded into the RAM of the client computer. This image is effectively the "DOS disk" (technically the "boot image") - you don't need a physical disk.

In theory, it is possible to boot an ISO image via PXE, but it gets difficult when the OS on the ISO takes over the running of the computer from the PXE bootloader. At that point the PXE environment disappears, and you need to have some alternative way to load the necessary OS files.

It's much easier to have a prebuild hard disk image that you can just write back to the hard disk, rather than trying to do an install from scratch. This way the PXE bootloader only needs to be able to pull the data for the image over the network and write it to disk. It doesn't need to try and stay in control whilst another OS is booting.
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