DRBL – About

DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux) is free software, open source solution to managing the deployment of the GNU/Linux operating system across many clients. Imagine the time required to install GNU/Linux on 40, 30, or even 10 client machines individually! DRBL allows for the configuration all of your client computers by installing just one server (remember, not just any virtual private server) machine

via DRBL – About.

DRBL uses PXE/etherboot, NFS, and NIS to provide services to client machines so that it is not necessary to install GNU/Linux on the client hard drives individually. Once the server is ready to be a DRBL server, the client machines can boot via PXE/etherboot (diskless). “DRBL” does NOT touch the client hard drives, therefore, other operating systems (e.g. MS Windows) installed on the client machines will be unaffected. This could be useful in, for example, during a phased deployment of GNU/Linux where users still want to have the option of booting to Windows and running some applications only available on MS windows. DRBL allows great flexibility in the deployment of GNU/Linux.

Overview | fogproject.org

FOG is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP, Vista and 7 that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. FOG doesn’t use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Also with fog many drivers are built into the kernel, so you don’t really need to worry about drivers (unless there isn’t a linux kernel driver for it). FOG also supports putting an image that came from a computer with a 80GB partition onto a machine with a 40GB hard drive as long as the data is less than 40GB.

via Overview | fogproject.org.

FOG is centralized. Most of tasks done on FOG don’t require the user to visit the client PC. For example if you imaging a computer all you need to do is start the task. After the task is started WOL will turn the computer on if it is off, PXE will load the OS, DHCP will give it an IP address, FOG will tell the server it is in progess, and PartImage will image your computer. Then when imaging is done FOG will tell PXE not to boot the machine to the fog image and your computer boots up. After the computer is booted, if the FOG service is installed, FOG will change the computer’s hostname and that computer is ready to use!


Cobbler is a Linux installation server that allows for rapid setup of network installation environments. It glues together and automates many associated Linux tasks so you do not have to hop between lots of various commands and applications when rolling out new systems, and, in some cases, changing existing ones.

With a simple series of commands, network installs can be configured for PXE, reinstallations, media-based net-installs, and virtualized installs (supporting Xen, qemu, KVM, and some variants of VMware). Cobbler uses a helper program called ‘koan’ (which interacts with Cobbler) for reinstallation and virtualization support.

via cobbler.

iPXE – open source boot firmware [start]

iPXE – open source boot firmware [start].

iPXE is the leading open source network boot firmware. It provides a full PXE implementation enhanced with additional features such as:

  • boot from a web server via HTTP
  • boot from an iSCSI SAN
  • boot from a Fibre Channel SAN via FCoE
  • boot from an AoE SAN
  • boot from a wireless network
  • boot from a wide-area network
  • boot from an Infiniband network
  • control the boot process with a script

Kenton’s Weekend Projects: LAN-party house: Technical design and FAQ

After I posted about my LAN-party optimized house, lots of people have asked for more details about the computer configuration that allows me to maintain all the machines as if they were only one. I also posted the back story to how I ended up with this house, but people don’t really care about me, they want to know how it works! Well, here you go!

via Kenton’s Weekend Projects: LAN-party house: Technical design and FAQ.

Installing Fedora Using PXE Images

Booting grub with the Fedora PXE vmlinuz/initrd images allows you to perform a network installation of Fedora over any existing linux distro, should you not be able to write to or boot from the conventional CD/DVD install media. A PXE netinstall can both be done locally, and with extra care, remotely using VNC. Both methods are explained in this HOWTO.

via Installing Fedora Using PXE Images — Fedora Unity Project.

Remote Network Boot via PXE

Let’s say you’re responsible for a network of 100 computers shared by students. What do you do if one of those computers starts acting funny? If you’re like me, you’ll just do a clean install of the operating system. But that’s a lot of work, especially if you have to do it several times a week. Fortunately, most PCs sold since 2001 follow the PC99 guidelines from Intel and Microsoft, which among other things says that new computers with Ethernet interfaces must implement two useful features: wake-on-LAN and network boot.

Remote Network Boot via PXE.