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I am working for a small shop where we want to provision all the hosts from one single location. Right now, we use Legacy RIS on Win server 2003 to deploy hosts via PXE boot. Though this method works, but I wanted to know if the community has a better way of handling this.

Though we don't use any Configuration management tool but my assumption (or rather plan to use one) is it will kick in during the last step of provisioning and will install packages/configs to bring it up to desired state.

Any good tools or methods that I can consider in a multi-OS environment?

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If you want to stick with the Microsoft flavor, WDS is the replacement for RIS. Unfortunately, it's still stuck on distributing Microsoft flavored setups only. If you wish to look towards a more generic strategy... look at the FogProject. This isn't a "drop-in" replacement, but there are ways to integrate RIS/WDS in with Fog, as well as being able to deploy just about any flavor of OS across the network. Additionally, it has some very nice "imaging" utilities that you may find useful.

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I am trying to move away from image concept,as that needs maintenance when a new version is out. Instead I am looking at something that can deploy from an ISO. Like in Windows SCCM/MDT, we can create a task sequence for things to-do pre/post deployment. – Prashanth Sundaram Apr 21 '11 at 19:59
All doable with the WDS, or for that matter just building an answer file can do that. 1 word of warning, in 99% of cases I've seen... the amount of work it takes to build your own custom install framework... does not outweigh the effort of simply installing the OS+applications. That remaining 1%... is typically either enterprise deployments where you have 50+ identical machines that need to be reloaded on a regular schedule or OEM installs where you need to build a custom install image to deploy thousands of times. – TheCompWiz Apr 27 '11 at 20:50

Have a look at this:

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

Thanks for the great responses. Since I will end up using the existing insfrastructure, I am going to answer my own question. :) I am not sure if this is a valid method but I gave points for all possible solutions.

In short: I will be using SCCM for deploying Windows OS and packages. MDT for managing and testing images. When a client PXE boots, it will have two options: Install Windows/Install RHEL. After the authentication, the OS installation is automated. SCCM is used for post deployment operations and for linux I am going to test puppet/bcfg2.

Thanks again.

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