Deep Dive: Combining Windows Deployment Services & PXELinux for the ultimate network boot

In a previous article, Installing Linux via PXE using Windows Deployment Services (WDS), I talked about using PXELinux to enable deployment of WDS images, Linux distros and a multitude of tools. It got a bit heavy when trying to make this all work but the system is now up & running and we have already benefitted from it on many occasions. So here is my guide for Microsoft admins wanting to enhance their existing Windows Deployment Services server.

Step One – Install WDS

This should be obvious and if you are reading this I imagine you’ve done it already. Ours is running on a Windows Server 2003 box but it should work fine with the latest, more secure, stuff.

  • We will be adding bits to the folders within the \\WDS\REMINST share

Installing Linux via PXE using Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Tux hearts Windows

A couple of our servers, and even more laptops, are coming with no optical drives installed. This can be a problem when it comes to installing an operating system. I use the excellent Windows Deployment Services role on Windows Server (2000-20012 R2) to accomplish this. It works very well in deploying Windows Server and Windows 7 over the network via a pre-execution environment (PXE) and can even deploy Windows XP images if the need arises (see my “how to” article here). The one limitation it has is that you cannot install Linux distros. This is a problem because you are only allowed one PXE server on the local area network (LAN), so you would have to choose either a Linux PXE server or a Windows one.

Fortunately, I found a solution that lets both work together to give you every kind of boot solution you could dream of 🙂

Continue reading Installing Linux via PXE using Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Installing Windows XP over the network using Windows Deployment Services

WDS IconMany years ago I used Remote Installation Services (RIS) on a Windows 2000 Server to install Windows 2000 Pro and Windows XP to clients on my network. Sometime in the Windows Server 2003 timeframe RIS evolved into the much improved Windows Deployment Services (WDS). I left that job and as time went on never really needed to use it since, until the other week. I was given a netbook with broken USB ports and a dodgy copy of Windows XP on it. Installing a fresh copy of XP over the network seemed to be the easiest way to do this. I was wondering how things had changed now Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2 have been released. I could remember it involving lots of huge downloads like the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. I also am only going to be using it on rare occasions so I don’t need any of the Microsoft System Centre bumph.These always seemed like overkill for the simple task in hand. Doing a few Bings and Googles didn’t really seem to bring any up to date information so I ended up piecing together the info from lots of different blogs to get to the end result. I have included the steps I took (below) in case it is of any help to anyone else out there. I’ve kept them quite vague on purpose as putting to much detail tends to overcomplicate the matter, therefore, you do need some technical knowledge to get through this successfully.

Continue reading Installing Windows XP over the network using Windows Deployment Services