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Boot ISOs over network, it's possible??
2016-04-11, 02:01
Post: #1
Big Grin Boot ISOs over network, it's possible??

I set up a ipxe server, and it's great, but I wanted mostly to be able to install windows, some linux distros and other utilities.

The problem I found is I can't use the ISO directly, one "solution" would be to use memdisk to load the ISO to memory and boot from there, I read some linux distributions don't work.

I was thinking if any way to create a virtual disk over the network and appear as a real one. A lot of problems reside when a modern OS do a hardware test and try to find the memdisk, this is not found. Or we use a lot of ram for having all the iso in memory.

I think the problem can be splited in two questions:
1) Is any way or possible to create a virtual media that a hardware test find as an actual media?
2) If so I can assume we can make it to map the content to memory or a network media? (nfs,iscsi,AoE)

Thanks in advance! Smile
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2016-04-11, 21:01
Post: #2
RE: Boot ISOs over network, it's possible??
No kernel will be able to access the ISO when OS have booted.
Described why quite recently here:

Regardless of which solution you will try using it still relies on INT13 for the first part, but as soon as OS kernel takes over it needs to have it's own nic driver and protocol support, as well as some kind of "INT13 handover"
For iSCSI there is iBFT. But you are still dependant on that provided kernel supports this.

iSCSI uses iBFT, see above
NFS can be used with nfsroot= linux kernel command line parameter, see the docs.
AoE I'm not sure about.

There is several examples of all of these techniques both here on the forum (use the search function) but also on the web Wink

The more workable solutions for installations is to use other methods.
* Windows: use wimboot and then connect a samba share to run the installation, For a basic start see:
* Linux use initrd and kernel, and try to find a way to load squashfs over the network as well, nfs or http load is supported by most distros, but I hope that more and more live medias support just initrding them all, a work-around script for systemrescuecd can be seen at and you can also find an alternative aproach at:

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