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I have a Server running Windows 2008 R2 Standard. I would like to be able to quickly add and remove new machines from the network, which should boot off their NIC and fetch the OS from the server.

I know that for Windows Clients I can use Windows Deployment Services, but I wonder if there is a way to remote install Linux clients or even complete hard drive images?

Technically speaking, I don't even need to persist any data to these machines as they just serve as RAM caches, so a diskless workstation would even be better (although I can add a hard drive if required).

Can I do that with WDS, or is there another Windows Service or (free) additional software that would allow either remote install or netboot? (I want to avoid running a Linux in a VM for this)

I have not decided which Linux it will be, most likely a custom distribution based on a very small 64-Bit Linux.

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2 Answers 2

You can probably use the included PXE and TFTP servers to download the kernel image to the systems, but you will need a NFS server if you want a netroot. I know nothing of the details though, on the Windows side.

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Technically, you do not need an NFS server if you are willing to provide a small root filesystem via TFTP. This approach is abut limited, though. See http://users.telenet.be/mydotcom/howto/linux/diskless02.htm for more details. You will likely need access to a Linux machine to build the images.

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