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Old 07-14-2010, 05:15 AM   #1
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Creating an Image for PXE Boot

Hi guys, I'm hoping you might be able to point me in the right direction regarding the creation of a bootable Linux Image for PXE booting. I've already consulted google and the other obvious sources I could think of, but it seems that PXE is mostly used to install stuff, which isn't quite what I need.

The goal here is to have a pool of computers that boot from a central source so maintenance is less of a hassle. Installation of the individual PCs is not desired and I'm supposed to provide a functional Linux via PXE booting.

What I need is basically a way to turn a working Linux into an image that can be booted via network. Or to recreate that Linux as an image that I can boot.
Old 07-14-2010, 06:42 PM   #2
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How about you start with the most basic and simple of PXE booted networked computers I have even seen? Many use linux terminal server but I suggest you start with Knoppix terminal server instead for practice.

Get a Knoppix cd/dvd. Some of the the 3 versions worked good while 4 faulted but back to 5.x works great.

Boot main computer to Knoppix cd or dvd with remote computers off but connected to lan.

On bottom of screen is some icons. Find (I think) services and what you want really is Knoppix Terminal Services. It will auto perform all of the tasks you may need for your lan cluster. Follow the steps. The only final options may need changes. One is what drivers to supply. That would be the drivers on the lan computers. Default may work as it is about 80% of what may be common. Last is using NX (freenx or 2x). Don't select it just yet.

What a few moments. There will be no signal it has finished I think.

Then boot lan computer using either it's pxe boot as first boot order. It should boot to a diskless knoppix.

If your system doesn't support pxe then study up on gpxe. Wonderful and can be used later for your lan if you want.

Now go back to knoppix server. See files under tftp.

Last is you can play with a internet booted computer. See and They both use gpxe to network load a diskless OS to your wan computer.
Old 07-15-2010, 01:25 AM   #3
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Thank you for your answer, but I think you missed my question.

I do not need to play with the PXE in general. The system is up and running and it's already being used to install various operating systems via network.

What I need to do is to basically take the Linux that is on the 20-ish computers of the pool and recreate that so it can be booted via PXE. Or just create a bootable Linux that meets the required specs from scratch.
Old 07-15-2010, 06:36 PM   #4
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Sorry. I did miss that whole deal.

I guess we'd need more info. Not all images can be pxe bootable as such. Common big name disto's have all been network bootable so that helps create what you want. As I said before the way you present the machine also comes into play. 2X and freex may be a solution. 2x offers free boot cd's an other free products that may help to distribute your current system via network.

If you want to create an image then the LTSP is the way to go.
Old 07-28-2010, 01:33 PM   #5
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I may be able to help you with this if I understand the problem.

here's what I have recently done.

PXE system used for server installations was recently updated to add boot image from network option.

(I use debian, so you may need to tweak some of the steps)

I created my gold image by performing a standard installation to the local hard disk of one system.
I then updated the initramfs to boot from nfs, and then copied the entire image into the pxe boot directory.
-- Use the kernal & initrd from the gold image as your new kernel & initrd in the pxe system.

Update your pxe server to do the following:

Set the default boot item to be the system image you want, and then set the boot timeout to 5-10 seconds.

This gives you time to select an alternate boot image if required, but by default the system will always
boot to the system image.

So my configuration now looks something like this:

default = full system image. boots from network image, and is about 4x faster than local disk boot.



timeout ~ 5 seconds.

Works nicely. systems just boot to the system image by default, but I still have the option to perform a full install
at any time via PXE.


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