Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have many systems without any OS on their harddisks. Basically, these systems are formatted on quaterly basis. I do not prefer Cloning the system and wish to go for installing the Windows XP/7 license on these PCs. I have the following question:

  • A) Is it possible to remotely connect these PCs to the server (Not in LAN). These PCs have no OS in them and we want to install OS in them. Since these PCs are in different locations, we cannot access them physically. We can only ask the local-technician to use his laptop/pendrive etc and use them in these empty PCs.
  • B) Can we connect the PC to the remote server while it is in the Bios-Booting stage. (No OS is present).
  • C) Once the BIOS makes the PC to be connected to the remote server, can we use the server to install the XP on these Desktops PCs. The local -technician would insert the XP/7 CD to install the software.


Satyendra Shukla

share|improve this question

migrated from Sep 20 '10 at 9:42

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

PXE booting (aka network booting) might be something to look into, though it will require configuring your switches/routers/DHCP to support it, and sufficient bandwidth between sites. It will also require support from your motherboards/BIOS/NIC though most business targeted PCs will have this capability (though it may not be switched on by default).

This allows you to boot the PC directly from the BIOS to connect to a server which can send it a pre-configured OS to boot from, this OS can then be used to pull down and install a full local OS. As long as you have your OS install all set up for unattended install, this could all be done with minimal local intervention past pressing the right button at boot time to get the BIOS to boot over the network rather than the local disk.

share|improve this answer

Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: No. What you want to do is perfectly possible within a LAN but not over a WAN.

share|improve this answer
-1. That depends on your definition. VPN connected PCs are counted as on the WAN by many people, while others might say LAN, and others say both. So if you have a non-client based VPN connection then you could do this. – dunxd Sep 20 '10 at 10:31
@dunxd, have you even read the question? Try getting a machine without an OS to connect to anything via a VPN and let me know how you get on. In future ensure you know what the question and answers are about before approaching the keyboard. You might also take a few moments to learn what a LAN and WAN actually are. – John Gardeniers Sep 20 '10 at 11:51
Think outside of the box, and about what else might be on the network besides the client machine - for example a VPN endpoint such as an ASA with IP helper configured to direct PXE traffic to a PXE server set up to do Operating System instal over the network by PXE. Or perhaps OS loaded via iSCSI over a VPN, with Hardware initiator configured via BIOS. I am AMAZED that someone with 10.6k reputation would turn on the flames so quickly. Sit on your hands and take a deep breath before replying. – dunxd Sep 20 '10 at 21:23

Take a look at IP KVM Switches.

Maybe this is what you're looking for.

Regards, Marcel

share|improve this answer

I appreciate the replies from "Marcel", "GAThrawn" and "John Gardeniers".

I agree that my requirement is next to impossible to be fulfilled. However, I have too many restrictions.

A) I cannot access the remote locations - physically, for installing OS (could be Linux or Windows). B) I can only ask the non-technical person in their region to be ready with the DVDs of OS.

My prime objective was to ask them to simply use some script or small-Os installed in USB drive to create some Virtual RamDrive, there by prompting the End-user to be ready with OS DVD. I cannot even create the Windows 7 based Bootable USB Drives to be used by the technicians at the remote end.

Ubuntu and Suse have live CDs like other Linux-flavors. Juts like they have "Wubi", it would have been helpful, had we have "Uwbi" like utility. Since, Linux is yet to become user friendly like Windows platform, I am not considering it as an option. No doubt that all my network-administrators find Linux as more powerful and error-free OS. We have Proxies and Production Server based on Linux, but we rely upon only on Windows platform for the End-users.

Here, these PCs can Directly be connected to the remote server and I can install anything onto it. But only and only in linux. I want to accomplish the same thing for windows. Limitation of Windows XP/7 is that it has to be installed and then configured to be connected to the Remote PC.

My scenario is similar to the Dumb-Terminal but with its own Processing and Storing capability. I wish to convert these connected dumb terminal into intelligent one. Funny part is that even to proceed further, I need to make these PCs as Dumb Terminal connected to Remote PC.

VPNs are of no use as they require OS.

share|improve this answer
Windows PE is the Windows version that happily boots from a USB or DVD drive. – GAThrawn Sep 23 '10 at 13:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.