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Diskless Windows with PXE - Comments


commentDiskless Windows
I would like to prepare two IBM N2800 Netvista Thin-Clients for use with Windows (for the Kids to play some games and play MP3-files)
1. 300 MHz and 128 MB RAM will suffice? (Linux, both DSL (from CF) and LTSP (PXE-boot) work fine). I'm afraid, those 128 MB Ram will be not enough during tho booting of Windows.
2. when playing with Windows, I would like to forbid internet-acces, allowed with linux. Any idea? DHCP modification, or restricting internet-acces in the win.img?
Posted 6 Jan 2006 by Ralph Heydenbluth
commentRE: Diskless Windows
I don't think 128MB Ram would be enough to run windows diskless. I usually need at least 192MB RAM.

To limit internet access, simply don't provide dns or default gateway settings.
Posted 10 Jan 2006 by Bob
commentRE: Diskless Windows
I managed to install Win98 on those machines mentionned above, modifiing Win98 with win98lite to make it fit into a 50 MB image and to remove IE and Outlook etc., leaving 80 MB on the N2800 for OS and appication. Will boot in some 20 seconds :).
Problem left: the netios-name of the N2800 is included in the ramdrive-image. So, when I start two clients, both of them have different IP-addresses but equal netbios-names, which will prevent the second one from accessing the lokal net. Workaround would be to make two (or more) different images, but that would prevent easy administration of the clients.
Is there any way to distibute netbios names by [samba | dhcp | bootp] or change the netbios-name of a running win98?
Posted 12 Jan 2006 by Ralph Heydenbluth
commentRE: Diskless Windows
I'm impressed you've managed to squeeze w98 down to 50MB, I'll have to have a look at w98lite myself.

As for the machine name, the only way I can see to alter it, is to change the registry before windows starts (via the autoexec.bat). However at that stage of the bootup we don't easily have access to the MAC address of the network card etc, so probably need to use a random address instead.

To randomize the machine name, I've written up a tiny dos executable ( that outputs the relevant registry entry randomised with the current time (down to hundredths of a second) so it's very very unlikely both machines would get the same name. I've limited the name to 13 letters as that seems to be the limit windows 98 will accept for a machine name. By editing your autoexec.bat you can run this, and then load it into the registry before windows starts.
Posted 16 Jan 2006 by Bob
commentSupport for multiple PCs off one image?
Sorry for the dumb question - does this approach allow more than one diskless PC to run off the same image?
Posted 17 Jan 2006 by John Clayton
commentRE: Support for multiple PCs off one image?
Yes you should be able to run multiple machines off the same image, as long as you randomize the machine name each time. Download to generate a random machine name each time a machine boots.
Posted 18 Jan 2006 by Bob
commentSupport for Windows 2003?
Does this procedure work with Windows Server 2003? I am looking for a way to boot a windows server 2003 box via pxe.
Posted 1 Feb 2006 by Grant Madison
commentRE: Support for Windows 2003?
Not as far as I'm aware. I don't know anyone getting anything other than windows 98 booting this way.
Posted 2 Feb 2006 by Bob
comment2 quick questions.
Is it possible to get windows 2003 to boot this way? Windows 2003 is nearly identical to XP and I'd really like to convert a few boxes to be diskless.

Also what happens to any user changes at the end? Is it possible to save the state of the machines? All I really want to do is just eliminate the hard disks but keep similar functionality. Does anyone know how this can be accomplished?
Posted 7 Feb 2006 by Alex
commentRE: 2 quick questions.
I don't believe its possible to get XP or 2003 to boot this way. I don't know of anyone getting anything other than windows 98 booting.

The state of the machines can be saved by copying the DriveSpace image back over to the linux tftp server, and then using plink (windows ssh - available as part of putty) to get the linux server to update the pxe image. Then shutdown. All of this can be scripted and run from a single shortcut.
Posted 8 Feb 2006 by Bob
commentwhere can i find info about PXE,TFTP,NFS and other programing stuff.
where do you get so much knowlage from. any tips for me ,please.
iam in 2nd year computer engg.,want to devolope a software like DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux) or/and 3com's (Virtual LAN Drive Software).
To boot windows xp my collage has 35 comp with p4 1.7GHz with (368+16)MB RAM having pxe rom.
Posted 11 Mar 2006 by radhe
commentRE: where can i find info about PXE,TFTP,NFS and other programing stuff.
Lots of reading, lots of googling, spare boxes to
try everything out on and ... most importantly ... a methodical manner
to problem solving (cos nothing works right first time).

Find a good source of informative articles and read, read, read .. just
keep soaking it all up.

For starters try the linux documentation project at
Posted 16 Mar 2006 by Bob
commentBooting 2003
Cisco has a solution called netboot that will let you boot 2003 from PXE alone, without an iSCSI hba. To download the software you need a Cisco TAC account. Documentation is available here

Posted 6 Jun 2006 by Trevor Banister
commentWindows 2003
It is indeed possible to boot Windows XP or Windows Server from a network image, though the RAM requirements for the end-stations will make it impactical.

While state will probably not be saved (and in many environments, this is a good thing), you could easily set up a fileserver hosting everyone's profile and set up roaming profiels or otherwise map "My Documents" to the fileshare.

Regarding setting the hostname, you can force a hostname from DHCP. Create a group/class for each host, as identified by MAC number and use "option host-name" to set a hostname. On the master Windows Image, set it to get the hostname from DHCP.
Posted 9 Jun 2006 by David T. Klein
commentbootptab, configuration, dhcp
when i install linux redhat 9.0.....i cant find /etc/bootptab....and also after installing the bootp at .....can someone give me some configuration how to boot diskless Windows using redhat box....can i make my redhat box as a dhcp server for the diskless windows?
Posted 21 Jun 2006 by hazman

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