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Support for more flexible PXE Boot (Even from a windows pc!)

Posted: 24 Apr 2010, 05:07
by Ernesto
I find PXE booting to be a VERY usefull feature of SRCD, but i think the way it is now, it lacks a little flexibility.
Not that the built in PXE server mode is not good, Its Great! and i wouldnt like it removed, im shure it could be usefull in many circumstances, but i think there are also circumstances where we would like to "manually" setup our own "Pxe server" in our own boxes, without the need to boot that pc with SRCD. And in some cases, we might need that pc (the one acting as the PXE server) to be running our own OSs, maybe even Windows! :)

In short, the same kind of flexibility that PloP linux has. :)
http://www.plop.at/en/ploplinux.html#pxew

For Example, there are cases where it would be great to have my netbook running windows, and serving SRCD via PXE at the same time, then i could (for example) boot the other (broken) PC from my netbook via PXE, mount the local partitions on that pc, "share them" with samba, and viola! im able to access all the files from my windows netbook for backup purpuses, or even to use my allready installed and updated virus scan software to scan those partitions for viruses.

No aditional comercial software would be needed for the user, tftpd32 works great for this, and its free & open source. That takes care of the TFTP and the DHCP services, and a simple windows share would provide filesystem "service" for the late boot stages.
The only things required for this to happen are...

1.- add support for samba filesystems at startup. Then, instead of using something like:

Code: Select all

netboot=http://192.168.157.1:8080/sysrcd.dat
// or
netboot=nbd://192.168.157.1:2000
// we could use something like
smbmount=//10.0.0.1/srcd:MyUser:MyPW


2.- Providing a proper directory structure (intended to be placed in the root of the tftp server tftproot or whatever), with a /default.cfg/default file, pxelinux.0, etc. in the distribution, maybe on an aditional "pxeboot.zip" package, or inside the same .iso image.

3.- There is no NÂȘ 3. Thats it! :)

I think these simnple changes could be easily implemented, and would greatly increase the flexibility and usability of this (allready) wonderfull tool.
P.S. I would gladly voulunteer to develop these changes myself and share them, but even tho i do know some programming, networking, and other "computer stuff" (im a computer technician), my linux and C/C++ skills dont go that far :(

Best regards, Ernesto

Re: Support for more flexible PXE Boot (Even from a windows pc!)

Posted: 26 Apr 2010, 21:13
by admin
Thanks for your suggestions. It's perfectly possible to run the PXE services on various platforms. The PXE documentation is detailed and focused on explaining how the boot process works. You should really be able to use different dhcp / tftp / {http,nfs,nbd} servers to provide PXE on different platforms.

Re: Support for more flexible PXE Boot (Even from a windows pc!)

Posted: 29 Apr 2010, 01:42
by Ernesto
Hi, thanks for you reply.
Of course its possible to do it with the current distribution, in fact ibe allready done it following the instructions found here...
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2604

But when done this way, you dont have the aditional boot options you have when booting from the actual CD, and of course with some work i guess it could be done as to get all the boot options, but it would be nice to have all that "out of the box" without having to write default menues by hand, and of course, most importantly, to be able to use SMB to access the image, instead of just TFTP (for low ram pcs).

Thanks!