Alternative to PXE boot



  • Hi all,

    We are currently assessing the feasibility of running a FOG server to meet our imaging needs. I’ll briefly explain the situation and our needs as well as the stumbling block we have run into.

    1. We want to run a FOG server that will allow a subset of the computers on our network to be registered with it
    2. These computers need to be controlled remotely (via the web browser)
    3. They require a “zero touch” installation from imaging, deployment, and client setup via snapins

    The issue we have is that the company also utilises 2 other PXE boot options which are tied together in a company PXE boot menu. This means that on boot we would first access the companies PXE boot menu, manually select the FOG server, and then let it carry on as normal. As I said before, we want this to be zero touch, so is there a method of getting around this that you know of? Perhaps there is an alternative booting environment?

    Thanks,
    Anthony


  • Moderator

    So what should you do first. I assume today you have the proper line in your current PXE boot menu to forward the client to the FOG server, Right??

    Take a test computer and collect its mac address, then get with your networking or admin group and have them insert the line from your current pxe menu into a text file and title that file the mac address of your target computer. I think you create the file name without any punctuation. So the file name should be like: 0018DC234567 Then pxe boot the target computer and see what happens.

    Actually read over this page it does a lot better explaining of syslinux pxe booting than I can: http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php?title=PXELINUX Plus I had the search order backwards (go figure)


  • Moderator

    @ABane You do have a bit more complex environment than most, so you will have to play withing the rules of what you setup.

    For every one of these computers you want to zero touch deploy (or more exactly) automatically forward to FOG. You will need to create one of these config files. If this config file doesn’t exist it will use the default pxe menu. So to answer your question yes you will need a config file for each systems, unless you can say all dell computers will be auto forwarded. Because the syslinux pxe boot loader (pxelinux.0) will start by pattern matching mac addresses I don’t remember which directions it moves in but lets assume this.

    For this mac address 00:18:DC:23:45:67 it should start pattern matching like this.

    0…
    00…
    001…
    0018…
    0018D…
    0018DC…
    0018DC2…
    0018DC23…
    0018DC234…
    0018DC2345…
    0018DC23456…
    0018DC234567

    Until it finds a file that exactly matches the mac address pattern. So if you wanted all Dell computers (which will have the first 6 characters the same) you would create a single config file with this name 0018DC then any dell computers would be forwarded to the FOG server. This may not fit your case but this IS possible.

    As for the one for one files the contents will all be the same (go contact the FOG server) just the file names will be an exact match.

    As for collect 150 mac addresses no problem. There are ways to scan your network (as long as you are on the same subnet as the target computers) and pickup the mac addresses, then filter them in excel and then create a script to loop through your list creating these files. It takes a little work but it can be done.



  • @george1421, thanks for your response. Would doing this not require the update of the configuration file every time a computer (i.e. MAC address) needs to be added or removed from the server? Would this require any restarting of the PXE boot service? I am not too familiar with networking as I studied OOP at university and just got plonked in to do this as an intern. It does look promising although getting my hands on the 150 computers separate MAC addresses doesn’t sound like a fun day.

    -Anthony


  • Moderator

    Beyond that you can create a zero touch deployment with fog (by scheduling a deployment task) and also by using post download scripts if needed as well as setting the target image up for unattended deployment. That part is not difficult if you know what you are doing.

    In my environment I have a single client image that is deployed to 12 different hardware platforms. This is all done with zero touch methodology.


  • Moderator

    There is an alternative to pxe booting but its not zero touch.

    But I can make a recommendation if your current (not FOG) menu is using syslinux as its pxe environment. That is if you know ahead of time what computers you are interested in with the zero touch deployment, you can setup a… forward chain (not the right word) configuration in the pxelinux.cfg directory. This would be a simple chain command to load the pxe boot loader for FOG (iPXE). You do this by creating a menu program the name of the mac address of your booting computer. There is a sequence it that will look for the mac addresses too, but the easiest is just create a file in the pxelinux.cfg with the mac address of one of these computers, put the forward chain (not the right words) command in there and the target will chain to what ever is in this file. If the syslinux boot loader doesn’t find a file that matches the mac address of the target and there are no other options then it will load the default file (this is where most people build there pxe boot menus).


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