Booting Windows 2000 or Windows NT via network

CharlesSHill used Ask the Experts™
I have a Windows 2000 Professional computer (ComputerA) and another computer (ComputerB) which does not have any disks whatsoever.
They are connected via network.
What do I need to be able to boot computer B from some image stored on computer A?
Some idea on how to set this up or a reference to such information will help.
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Pete LongTechnical Consultant

Hello There

You need a NIC cars that is PXE compliant - (Pre eXecute Enviroment) then you need an imaging system, either RIS The microsoft version or Ghost Enterprise Server

Pete LongTechnical Consultant

What Is RIS?
Remote Installation Services (RIS) is one of the change and configuration management features included with Windows 2000. RIS is an optional Windows 2000 service that enables you to set up new client computers remotely, without the need to physically visit each client machine. Specifically, you can install operating systems on remote boot-enabled client computers by connecting the computer to the network, starting the client computer, and logging on with a valid user account.

By installing a RIS server in your environment, you're providing a potentially diskless boot (booting with no boot floppy or CD—although the system still requires a hard disk) as well as a fully automated, network-based mechanism for deploying Windows 2000 Professional.

Installing Windows 2000 Professional using RIS is similar to installing with the network-based distribution share point (DSP) unattended install method. All files are transferred across the network to the local system, and the standard Windows 2000 Setup process runs in unattended mode, including text-mode and GUI-mode setup. RIS-based installs are only slightly faster than similarly configured DSP-based installs; the speed difference results from changes in the network client connection method. With RIS, there is no longer the same need for a customized network client boot disk as there is with a DSP-based network install. Instead, a RIS-based install uses PXE (Pre-boot Execution Environment) to connect to the network. With any PXE-compliant network card, the user can actually boot directly from the network card—with no additional drivers or configuration steps—to initiate an OS install. For many systems without a PXE-enabled network card, a simple boot disk with a PXE emulator can simplify the process of attaching to the network.

PXE is a technology standard that provides a mechanism for connecting to the network and executing program code by booting directly from a network interface card (NIC).

A workstation with a PXE-enabled NIC must first be configured to boot to the network in the computer's BIOS. When the machine is powered on, the user can press the F12 key to boot to the PXE. PXE sends out a DHCP discovery packet. If a DHCP server responds, the client requests an IP address for itself as well as the IP address of a RIS server. After the client receives this information, it contacts the RIS server, using the Boot Information Negotiation Layer (BINL). BINL provides the location and filename of the bootstrap image to the client. Under Windows 2000, this image is the executable for the Windows 2000 Client Installation Wizard. The client then uses the Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) to download and execute the Client Installation Wizard.

PXE Emulator Disk
PXE is required when installing systems using RIS; you can't connect using a standard network client boot disk. If the NIC doesn't have on-board support for PXE, Windows 2000 provides a PXE ROM emulator to allow a workstation to take advantage of the PXE connection process by booting to a floppy disk. See the later section "PXE Boot Disk" for more information.

Once the client has successfully downloaded and executed the Client Installation Wizard, someone must log onto the client. After a successful user logon, RIS checks the Active Directory to see whether the machine account has been pre-staged. If so, RIS takes client configuration information from the Active Directory and starts the installation of Windows 2000. If the client hasn't been pre-staged, the Client Installation Wizard prompts the user to select an image, and then runs a complete unattended install of Windows 2000 Professional.

RIS is closely related to the IntelliMirror technology suite (see Chapter 7, "IntelliMirror"). RIS provides fast workstation OS recovery in the event of a critical system failure. In a tightly managed environment and coupled with the IntelliMirror technologies (which restore applications, user documents, and user settings), a user could immediately and automatically completely recover his or her system, even if the local machine had been irrevocably destroyed.

Architecture Requirements
Aside from the Windows 2000 server running the Remote Installation Services server components, RIS is dependent on the proper implementation of these additional technologies:

TCP/IP-based network. TCP/IP is the basic networking requirement for a Windows 2000 domain.
DHCP. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol service must assign TCP/IP configuration information to RIS clients, or the clients won't be able to access the RIS server.
DNS. A Windows 2000–compliant Domain Name System service is required so the RIS server will be able to find the Active Directory controller.
Active Directory. The Active Directory provides client authorization and configuration information to the RIS server during the client install process.
DNS must be updated to a version compliant with the Windows 2000 DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name System) requirements, which includes support for the following standards:

RFC 2052. The service location resource record (SRV RR), sometimes referred to as a service record. Support for SRV records is mandatory—if your DNS server doesn't handle these resource records, you can't use it in conjunction with Active Directory.
RFC 2136. The Dynamic Update protocol (support for dynamic update isn't required, but strongly recommended).
The Windows NT 4.0 Server DNS Service is not compliant with these requirements and won't support RIS. If you're using Windows NT 4.0 Server DNS, you must upgrade at least one DNS server to Windows 2000 before you can utilize RIS. If you're using BIND, versions 8.1.2 and above support the required protocols.

Microsoft recommends using the DNS server built into Windows 2000 unless you have a good business reason for not doing so. If you use the Windows 2000 DNS service, you can take advantage of Active Directory–integrated zones, which can improve replication of DNS data.

Pete LongTechnical Consultant

Authorizing a DHCP/RIS Server
To allow a DHCP or RIS server to service network clients, you must first authorize the server providing the service in the Active Directory. It can be a bit confusing, because the authorization dialogs never mention RIS—all appear to handle only DHCP authorization. But you must go through the same steps for either service, regardless of what the dialogs say. To authorize a DHCP or RIS server, follow these steps:

Start the DHCP management console from the Administrative Tools menu.
Select the DHCP node. From the Action menu, select Manage Authorized Servers.
In the Manage Authorized Servers dialog box, click the Authorize button.
In the Authorize DHCP Server dialog box, enter the IP address or the computer name of the DHCP or RIS server and click OK. Even though this dialog doesn't mention RIS, you can authorize RIS servers or DHCP servers from this box.
The server name and IP address should now appear in the Authorized DHCP Servers list. Select the Close button to close the Manage Authorized Servers dialog.
From a network perspective, RIS doesn't use multicasting, so it would put about as much draw on your bandwidth as copying around a gigabyte of data to as many clients as are simultaneously initiating RIS installs. Fortunately, the RIS client isn't pulling data over the network during the entire install process—only during the normal file copy process of a standard Windows 2000 Professional setup. Staggering the initialization of the RIS clients might help ease the hit on the RIS server.

Setting Up RIS
Before installing RIS, make sure that the basic server hardware requirements are sufficiently covered. The minimum recommended configuration for a Remote Installation Services server is as follows:

200 MHz Pentium-class processor or greater
128MB RAM—more if you use the same server for additional functions (DHCP, DNS, Active Directory)
2GB volume dedicated to the operating system files, per the minimum installation requirements for Windows 2000 Server
A 2GB volume for the Remote Installation Services server's folder tree; Microsoft recommends using physically separate drives for the system volume and the volume used for RIS
10 Mbps network adapter card (100 Mbps network adapter recommended)
Keep in mind that these hardware requirements are the minimum recommendation. If you provide only the 2GB minimum for the volume used for the RIS directory tree, this will provide space for very few images of Windows 2000 Professional. The space required by an image will vary, depending on the level of customization and the size and number of other applications that are installed through RIS. Due to the functions of the Single Instance Store (SIS) service, accurately gauging the space required for storage of multiple images isn't an easy task (see the later section "Single Instance Store (SIS)" for details on SIS). For planning purposes, with minimal additional software installations, assume an average requirement of an additional 500MB per image. If your images are very similar in configuration and application inclusion, the physical storage space required for each additional image could be less than 50MB per image.

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PeteLong, Thanks for speedy reply. I am not too sure that I understand the information provided. "Under Windows 2000, this image is the executable for the Windows 2000 Client Installation Wizard" "although the system still requires a hard disk" this seems to load the Win2K installation wizard.

Maybe I should explain better. ComputerB does not have disks. When it is powered on, I need it to load an image containing Win2K from ComputerA, run the image, automatically log on and execute the normal Win2K startup process. A user normally does not use this computer.
The startup process will load some device drivers unique to our own pc cards installed in the computer. It also starts a program which will then allow other computers to connect to it via TCP/IP.

I therefore only want to setup the image containing all drivers and programs once. This must then somehow be made into an image which
will be loaded from computerA via network when computerB boots.

I can't do this in Windows 2000.

If computerB has no HDD then it won't work.  You cannot run it from another machine.
Check this out:

This product supports a diskless 2000 boot.

I thought that the link I provided had the answer that CharlesShill was looking for:
"Some idea on how to set this up or a reference to such information will help. "

my answer:

This product supports a diskless 2000 boot.

Thanks for your time.


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