By abhishek |

Need to setup a lab/office with 200+ computers, very tiring job but look if you have machines identical in configuration why are you installing each of them why not install one and replicate it to others this will save a lot of time, But how will i do this?????????? Its very very simple you can do a dd of the source to all destination but this would be even difficult and a bit geeky, hey dont worry we have a solution for it use PXE. 

Now what is this PXE??

Wikipedia "The Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE, also known as Pre-Execution Environment, or 'pixie') is an environment to boot computers using a network interface independently of available data storage devices (like hard disks) or installed operating systems."

But how does it help?? :)

there can be different situations of installation for eg u only need to install one operating system on a machine this can be easily dome by using an image which is already stored on PXE server as i call it. or u might have a whole list of OS and other softwares which are  required to be installed/configured on every machine in the environment now how do i achieve this. The solution is configure once machine with all the required softwares into it and replicate this using pxe. its very simple just setup a PXE server which provides a sender-receiver mechanism i.e which can make once machine as sender and others receiver once its done you can relax and have your whole environment setup within 30mins or so, time would very on various issues including Network and Disk Size.

But how to design a PXE Server??

I would not write a how to as its already available on Internet i just don't want to duplicate things so you can now move to (this is really a gr8 open-source project) or and configure your own PXE server just for an hint u need to install the following on services 1) tftp-hpa 2) dhcp3-server (u can use another machine as a dhcp server as well) 3) netkit-inetd 4) You might need to recompile the kernel to suit your requirements in case of any problems you can write to me :) this PXE system has helped me a lot many times, i have configured one such system today which worked on fine so i strongly recommend this but use it on your own risk a single mistake can wipe out your entire data or do something which you have never expected so it on your own risk