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So we have a bunch of systems distributed across a semi-large area and are looking to upgrade soon. We are looking for systems that could preferably be booted from a USB drive in the system remotely. I've seen things referencing IP KVMs and vPro to allow remote access at the BIOS level. Is this indeed possible and what would be required for this to happen? In the ideal situation we could:

  • Have user plug in USB
  • Reboot system from our office
  • Boot to the USB into Linux installer
  • Go through install dialog

We are looking for a mini-ITX solution (custom build is ok). Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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What exactly are you trying to do here? You want to reboot machines and start an installer on a USB drive you've had the user plug in? Or you're looking for new systems to sell to your customers? – voretaq7 Nov 13 '12 at 18:53
We're looking to reboot machines and start the installer. They are all on the same network and vlan but occasionally crash in such a way that a reinstall is needed and being able to do this remotely would be great. – Ian Nov 13 '12 at 19:41
up vote 4 down vote accepted

For something like what you're describing you really want to invest in systems that have iLO, IPMI with KVM-over-LAN, or equivalent.

Most of these systems also offer remote CD-ROM over the IPMI/KVM connection, which can eliminate the need to distribute USB drives to all your locations (if a machine needs a reinstall you can do the whole thing over the network with the latest boot image).

Picking the hardware is something you'll have to do for yourself (there's a lot of options, built-in and aftermarket), but that's the basic feature set you want.

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Would something like RealVNC VNC Viewer Plus with a vPro compatible processor work? – Ian Nov 13 '12 at 20:19

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