Nov 022018
 

See previous article to understand why and what.

Previously we have created our differencing / child disks.

Lets first set our iscsi target with Starwind San Free by creating two targets and attaching one disk in each target.





Then lets boot our diskless computers over the network with TinyPXE Server.

We will use the below ipxe scripts (one for each network booting computer).
Replace ‘X’ below with the target number (1 or 2) on line 3 and 5.

#!ipxe
clear net0.dhcp/gateway:ipv4
set initiator-iqn iqn.2006-11.X
set keep-san 1
sanboot --keep iscsi:${next-server}:tcp:3260:0:iqn.2008-08.com.starwindsoftware:erwan-pc2-childX

And here we go, we have X diskless computers booted over the network using differencing disks on the iscsi target.

 Posted by at 19 h 23 min
Nov 022018
 

New in latest Tiny PXE Server version : some files served over the built-in HTTP daemon such as files with extension PHP, VBS and PY can be dynamically processed on the server side and not simply sent back as text/html files.

This gives one the ability to implement a logic on the server side thru php, vbscript or python, including parameters in the URL.

Other engines could be added later on such as node.js, perl, …

Example of ipxe script file on the client side (more reading here).

chain http://${next-server}/boot.php?param1=value1&param2=value2

Example of a boot.php file server side.

<?php
//use $argv[1], $argv[2], etc to retrieve url parameters
echo "#!ipxe\n";
echo "kernel ${boot-url}/wimboot\n";
echo "initrd ${boot-url}/bootmgr                     bootmgr\n";
echo "initrd ${boot-url}/boot/BCD                    BCD\n";
echo "initrd ${boot-url}/Boot/boot.sdi               boot.sdi\n";
echo "initrd ${boot-url}/sources/boot.wim            boot.wim\n";
echo "boot\n";
?>  

The TinyPXE Server config.ini web section.

[web]
port=80
;php.exe file.php param1=value1
php=c:\_apps\php\php.exe
;cscript.exe file.vbs param1=value1 //nologo
vbs=C:\Windows\System32\cscript.exe
;python.exe file.py param1=value1
py=C:\Python27\python.exe
 Posted by at 15 h 40 min
Nov 022018
 

1.0.0.22
added : CTRL+R to refresh interfaces
added : [map] section, before=after
fixed : free stream after transfercomplete
added : safety counter when downloading from remote http server (udp to http)
added : /config:x:\path\config.ini
added : pick up another config file (menu)
added : CTRL+I to display current config file path

 Posted by at 15 h 36 min
Nov 022018
 

See previous article to understand why and what.

Previously we have created our master / parent disk.

Lets now create our differencing / child disks using our host (windows 8.1) virtual disk capabilities.

Lets do it in one batch.


rem list disks before
vmount disks
rem create child1 against parent iscsi.vhd
vmount createchild e:\_images\child1.vhd e:\_images\iscsi.vhd
rem create child2 against parent iscsi.vhd
vmount createchild e:\_images\child2.vhd e:\_images\iscsi.vhd
rem attach child1 without assigning any letter to it
vmount attach e:\_images\child1.vhd noletter
rem attach child2 without assigning any letter to it
vmount attach e:\_images\child2.vhd noletter
rem list disks
vmount disks
rem check attributes of disk2
vmount attributes 2
rem check attributes of disk3
vmount attributes 3
rem disk3 is most probably offline because of disk signature collision between disk2 and disk3
rem lets force it online : windows will generate a new signature
rem make sure to use a BCD using LOCATE and not using disk signature or else bootmgr will error
rem more about locate here http://www.mistyprojects.co.uk/documents/BCDEdit/files/device_locate.htm
vmount online 3

Notice how the second virtual disk now has a different signature (since we forced it online…).

 Posted by at 15 h 19 min
Nov 022018
 

See previous article to understand why and what.

In this article, we will see how to create our master / parent VHD and how to install windows onto this disk.

To manipulate virtual hard disks on the command line, i use vmount.

Create parent vhd
vmount createdynamic e:\_images\iscsi.vhd 102400
Attach vhd as physical disk without a drive letter
vmount attach e:\_images\iscsi.vhd NOLETTER
Check it out
vmount disks

At this stage, we have a new \\.\physicaldriveX on your host which we can use within our iscsi target (using Starwind San Free).

Last step, lets boot our diskless computer to install windows.
To do this, I will use TinyPXE Server and iPxe.
I also use QuickPE to customize my winpe (but default ms waik or adk will do as well).

First boot : we will attach our iscsi disk then boot our WinPE from where we will launch windows setup (over a network share)


#!ipxe
#dhcp net0
clear net0.dhcp/gateway:ipv4
set keep-san 1
sanhook iscsi:${next-server}:tcp:3260:0:iqn.2008-08.com.starwindsoftware:erwan-pc2-master
set boot-url http://${dhcp-server}
echo ${platform}_${buildarch}
kernel ${boot-url}/wimboot
iseq ${platform} pcbios && initrd -n bootmgr.exe ${boot-url}/BOOTMGR.EXE bootmgr.exe ||
iseq ${platform} efi && initrd -n bootmgfw.efi ${boot-url}/bootmgfw.EFI bootmgfw.efi ||
iseq ${platform} pcbios && initrd -n bcd ${boot-url}/BOOT/BCD bcd ||
iseq ${platform} efi && initrd -n bcd ${boot-url}/EFI/MICROSOFT/BOOT/BCD bcd ||
initrd ${boot-url}/BOOT/BOOT.SDI BOOT.SDI
iseq ${platform} pcbios && initrd -n boot.wim ${boot-url}/SOURCES/x86/BOOT.WIM BOOT.WIM ||
iseq ${platform} efi && initrd -n boot.wim ${boot-url}/SOURCES/x64/BOOT.WIM BOOT.WIM ||
boot

Second boot : lets boot to complete the windows installation


#!ipxe
#dhcp
clear net0.dhcp/gateway:ipv4
set initiator-iqn iqn.2006-11.1
set keep-san 1
sanboot --keep iscsi:${next-server}:tcp:3260:0:iqn.2008-08.com.starwindsoftware:erwan-pc2-master

 Posted by at 14 h 33 min
Nov 022018
 

Windows server iscsi target is a nice product allowing one to boot diskless computers over the network (using iscsi).

Furthermore, windows iscsi target supports differencing virtual hard disks (vhd) allowing one to build a « master » (parent) disk and then create differencing disks thus leaving the master disk untouched.

But you dont always have a windows server at hand and you may wish to go for a cheaper alternative, or just do it another way for fun 🙂

The next 3 articles will take you on a journey to achieve the above i.e boot diskless computers over the network (using StarWind San Free and TinyPXE Server) with differencing virtual hard disks:

create the master / parent disk
create the differencing / child disks
boot diskless computers over the network using these child disks

 Posted by at 13 h 45 min