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PXE Boot + PXELINUX + VNC


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#1 GeekToMe

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 03:37 PM

Hey Guys,

Fun new challenge! I'm trying to find out if this is even possible in the first place.

This is another step I want to implement into my massive imaging/refurbishing project. Basically what I want to do is boot via PXE, and load either some form of VNC or console view, so that I can manage the systems from my main computer.

I saw somewhere that there is an option to leave the PXE loaded in memory. Ideally, the VNC/terminal would remain running while being able to run additional tasks, eg, launch diagnostics or my xp pe w ghost to do imaging. But it mostly just has to be running during the initial boot menu so I can execute the appropriate task.

This way, once I have set all the laptops to boot automatically to the PXE, I can initiate the diagnostics, then the data scrubbing, then imaging, then stress testing and Q/A. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

#2 GeekToMe

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 09:42 PM

After doing a bit more digging this afternoon, I guess I'm looking for some form of telnet support, unless the serial console output can be redirected over IP. I'm not quite sure what else to search for. I know syslinux supports the serial console, but I don't know where to start with configuring virtual console settings.

#3 Sha0

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 05:06 PM

I think you're talking about some different things here, so I'd like to try to split it up a bit...

In DOS or some other pre-OS state, it's likely that console I/O is accomplished by INTerrupts. Something that's been on my ToDo for a while is: Hooking appropriate INTerrupts to redirect console I/O over IP (either UDP or TCP or a choice.) This could be implemented in a telnetish fashion, perhaps. It would likely make use of gPXE or Syslinux' forthcoming lwIP support. Such I/O would not be text-based (versus graphical) however, so the term VNC does not apply. Now one could create a full-blown VNC server which could
  • draw a screen for text-based video modes
  • poll pixels for graphical video modes
but this would be quite a project!

Anyway, regardless of this, any INT support usually disappears with a full-blown OS like Linux or Windows. But with both of those, you have VNC and telnet and SSH services available anyway.

You might be interested in researching HP's iLO. I believe it's available with some of their server-class models, but I would doubt it's available for workstation-class models. Interesting stuff, nonetheless.

Yes, with PXELINUX you can keep the UNDI and/or PXE stacks around for DOS. You would need
  • The "keeppxe" option in your PXELINUX config-file or to use the appropriate LOCALBOOT option to keep UNDI and/or PXE
  • An UNDI driver for DOS
  • A telnet server for DOS (yes, there is at least one)
  • To lose expectations for using graphics-mode programs

- Shao Miller

#4 GeekToMe

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 03:49 PM

Has there been any progress on the "lwIP support"? Peeking into this project again, looking to revamp the system I set up last year and it would be interesting to add a feature like this. Got some nice new 48 port GB switches and a new server, sadly no HP iLO.