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LAN boot option in BIOS

By lopdog
Aug 4, 2011
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  1. I have noticed that my computer (and many others) have an option called "PCI-LAN" or similar in the BIOS boot menu (when I press F8 I get the option to choose boot device, HDD, CD, USB and PCI-LAN).

    I'm just curious, what is this for, and how could I use it?
     
  2. pjamme

    pjamme TS Enthusiast Posts: 285

  3. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 378

    Yes, that looks like what I meant. Just out of curiosity, is this something I could do on my home network? Like, place a boot image on one of my computers, and boot another using that image? What kind of boot image do I need?
    Do you know about any guides or tutorials? Not that I really need network booting, but it could be interesting to try.
     
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,446   +324

    PXE boot uses port 67 to discover the server with an image that can be loaded over the network. (so that's issue #1: )

    SunMicro had that all built-in for X-11 diskless systems; ie A dumb monitor with a network attachment. Kind of neat for system admins; maintain one image and boot multiple systems from it.

    HOWEVER, that solution also means that every program and shared lib.so (DLL to the windows folks) was fetched (or paged) over the network too.
    So then the network not only did IPC/RPC actions between systems, but also had to
    take on the work of the paging system (aka pagefile.sys in windows).

    It should be easy to see that the network would soon saturate and have terrible performance (and that happened with as few as 5 systems booting from the same image). This was at a time when the NIC was fixed at 10mbs, so going to 10/100/1000mps would sure help, but IMO, it's a misuse of the network altogether.
     
  5. lopdog

    lopdog TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 378

    Thank you, that made it a little clearer. I just found an interesting article explaining why and how to do network boot.
    But since it looks complicated and time-consuming (and not to mention that it's probably quite slow, as you said), I think I won't try it out for now.

    It's interesting to know about the possibility, though.
     


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