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ipxe configuration from network and automatic OS selection from PXE boot menu
2013-04-10, 07:27
Post: #1
ipxe configuration from network and automatic OS selection from PXE boot menu
Hi,

Currently we are using WDS for windows OS installation and to support the Linux OS installation we have also configured the PXELinux. We have also created a custom PXE menu to support the different version of Linux OS and using pxeboot.0 kernel to redirect for windows OS of WDS menu. Now we want to automate the OS installation process on client machine so we are using unattended files for windows and kick start configuration files for the Linux OS. And it’s working fine as expected once we select the respective OS from the PXE boot menu.

Now as per our requirement, I want to fully automate this process. Like instead of selecting OS from the PXE boot menu manually, I need to achieve something like for this particular client machine specific OS needs to be installed.

While doing research, I came across through the ipxe. Can I accomplish this requirement through ipxe? Also can you please let me know how can I configure the ipxe for network boot? Like I burn ipxe.iso into CD and I am able to boot through ipxe.

Please feel free to contact me in case of any queries.

Thanks in advance.

Regards,
Kumesh
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2013-04-10, 11:03 (This post was last modified: 2013-04-10 11:05 by robinsmidsrod.)
Post: #2
RE: ipxe configuration from network and automatic OS selection from PXE boot menu
You might find some of the resources on http://networkboot.org/ of interest. If you don't find answers to your questions there, I'd love it if you submitted a feature request.

1. For starting up iPXE automatically, you most likely want to be using chainloading. You can find details on how to do that at http://ipxe.org/howto/chainloading for either Windows or Linux setup.

2. To automate what happens on a given machine during iPXE bootup, it supports a very extensive scripting language. See http://ipxe.org/scripting for details on how it works. If you want an extensive example of how you can set up a menu that enables a default boot action, but allows you to override, you might like this example I have written: https://gist.github.com/robinsmidsrod/2234639
You'll need to create one of those specific files in bootstrap/XXX.ipxe to override the default "exit" behavior, as mentioned in the gist.

3. Using the standard WDS mechanism for running Windows PE for installation requires WDS to have full control over your DHCP and TFTP server, and it is also slower than need be. If you install a web-server (you don't have to, it also works using TFTP) you can use wimboot to load your Windows PE installation without all the DHCP/TFTP funkiness of WDS. If you want to do a full installation of Windows (automated or not) then you should look up http://ipxe.org/howto/winpe.

Hope this has given you some clues on how to approach the challenge.
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2013-04-16, 02:35
Post: #3
RE: ipxe configuration from network and automatic OS selection from PXE boot menu
(2013-04-10 07:27)kumesh Wrote:  Now as per our requirement, I want to fully automate this process. Like instead of selecting OS from the PXE boot menu manually, I need to achieve something like for this particular client machine specific OS needs to be installed.

I'm not really sure you can have the 'completely automated' side of things. You will still need to direct them to boot to one side or the other. You could easily do this with a simple web & db/file backend like Robin mentioned, with just a simple site to be able to put in the MAC, or another peice of unique ID that you can catch on, to direct how the machines boots.

Other then that, iPXE can help you in other ways, again as Robin mentioned, so no need to repeat.

With a little bit of time, you could get a really sweet setup going, would just require some work behind it.
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