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I want to be able to boot winpe over the network but don't want to buy one of those expensive OS. Are there any good free/open source solutions?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you can get it into an ISO format (and you can with ImageX), you can boot it over the network with the help of a VMWare appliance called Ultimate Deployment:

http://www.ultimatedeployment.org/

No licenses or Windows required, native PXE Boot support.

You add the ISO to the list of avaliable boot devices, and then when the machine in question does a PXE boot, it can load the WinRE/WinPE ISO image over the network.

Ultimate Deployment will also (I believe) run an unattended.txt setup for older Windows versions as well.

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+1 however for Matt - Ultimate deployment appliance is good and works but it takes quite a lot of work to get it usable. Ultimate deployment is only really designed to deploy a few OSs and certain versions, expanding it takes a lot of work... I am still looking and trying to find a way of just networking booting ANY bootable iso but not having much luck due to different limitations (network, tftp e.t.c.)..... Anyway, as long as the OSs you want to deploy are supported by ultimate deployment, you shouldn't have to much problem. –  William Hilsum Aug 3 '09 at 5:57
    
True. I was in a bit of a hurry when I wrote the answer, however later versions were better (esp. With multiple os's of the same flavour) –  Mark Henderson Aug 3 '09 at 6:49

For installation there's unattended:

http://unattended.sf.net

Only needs a *nix server and works great.

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Clonezilla together with DRBL can probably do what you want. It is open source and it can manage PXE booting, imaging etc. When you first read about DRBL it sounds very Linux specific, but match it with Clonezilla and you can do what you want.

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