My Linux Terminal Server Project is going well, however one of the painful support problems in branches is people removing the Rom-O-Matic boot CD’s we use to boot old PC’s on the terminal server. A lot of the old PC’s have hard drives and staff tinker with the BIOS to get to whatever version of windows is sitting on these old drives. Once they lose the boot CD we have to burn a new one and send it out.
I got frustrated today when I went to a customer service PC and discovered it sitting at a windows 98 logon prompt and the boot CD missing. Now this machine will never work on the network from Win98.
I went to Alexandre Heinze excellent All drivers Etherboot floppy and How to Install Etherboot to a Hard Disk and followed his instructions. Using the floppy I created a 5MB partition and installed Etherboot with auto-detection of the NIC.
That machine will never boot to Windows again. And until the hard drive fails, we wont have support problems with it for a long time.
I’ve had some problems with PXE boot on this site so I don’t think that will be a fix for a while. But eventually I will get PXE working here and the standard build will change. When that happens we’ll remove hard drives from the PC’s and install a PXE enabled NIC. In the meantime, the client is happy.