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Instructions: Booting Ghost from the Network & PXE Server Setup

Created: 15 Jul 2007 • Updated: 21 May 2010 | 11 comments
xan_todd's picture

Booting Ghost from the Network

Booting from the network can save time used walking around your site and managing the replication of floppies, DVDs and USB sticks.

Almost all currently available network cards, onboard cards, and BIOS support network boot. Network boot is particularly useful for provisioning machines from bare metal.

Network boot can be used to boot standalone Ghost for CD/DVD writing operations, peer to peer operations, and Ghostcast server multicast imaging sessions. Network boot can also be used to host other tools and utilities.

Network boot can also be used to connect to the Ghost Console and take part in console imaging tasks.

Getting this up and running is quick and simple, once you know how. :  ).

Follow steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, read the notes, and ask for clarification if needed.

1. Install the network boot service

Install 3Com PXE Boot Services, supplied with Ghost (see note 1).

By default, only the Administrator option is selected, which will install only the management tools. Remember to change this to Server during the install. Accept all other defaults.

After installation, open the 3Com PXE Server control applet in Control Panel and enable Proxy DHCP (skip this step if you are installing on the same machine as your network DHCP server). Then go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services, and start the 3Com PXE Server and 3Com TFTP Server. Set the startup type to Automatic.

2. Create a Network Boot Image

Install Ghost Console or the Ghost Boot Wizard.

Start Ghost Boot Wizard, and select the appropriate option: TCP/IP Network Boot Image for standalone ghost operations, or TCP/IP Network Ghost Client Boot Image (see note 2) for console controlled operations. Select the universal driver (see note 3), and store the boot image in the C:\TFTPRoot directory.

If required, you can also create boot images from any existing floppy, using the 3Com Boot Image Editor Create TCP/IP Image File option.

In both cases, you can add and edit additional files later if necessary using the 3Com Boot Image Editor Edit an Existing File option.

3. Create a PXE boot menu

Using the 3Com Boot Image Editor, select Create a PXE Menu Boot File.

Click Add and select Boot From Hard Drive as the default entry, then click Add again to create a second entry containing your boot image file.

4. Create an entry in the BootPTab control file

Start the 3Com BootPTab editor.

Add a wildcard host id "????????????" as a node identifier, and select the PXE Menu Boot File that you created in the previous step.

Alternatively, create an entry for each machine you wish to boot from the network.

5. Client boot method

Most client BIOS have an option to disable or enable the network boot feature. This option is typically associated with onboard device configuration, and might be called something like: NIC PXE Option ROM Download, NIC W/PXE, LAN BOOT, or something similar. You will need to find this setting in your BIOS, enable it, and save and restart before it appears in your boot order.

After that, you will normally have one or more of these three options to choose from, depending on your BIOS:

- Hotkey at startup to boot to the network (e.g. F12 for HP)
- Boot menu at startup, which includes a network boot option (e.g. F9 for HP, F12 for Dell)
- Assign network boot into your boot order permanently. The best place is usually one position prior to the HDD.

6. Perform the desired operation

If you are working from a standalone network boot image, boot the image and choose the desired operation from the menu. If you are using a standalone network boot image to connect to a multicast or unicast session, start the Ghostcast server executable and specify the desired operation.

If you created a console network boot image (see note 4), create and execute a console task to perform the desired operation.

Feel free to post additional questions or information to this thread. We are always interested in the processes you have implemented and your reasons for doing so, so we can better support your needs straight out of the box in future.

Notes

1) In Ghost 11, 3Com Boot Services are supplied in the Extras directory of the download. In earlier versions, 3Com PXE Server is supplied on a separate disk.

2) The TCP/IP Network Ghost Client Boot Image option is not available if the Ghost Boot Wizard was installed using the Standalone Tools option of the installer.

3) The universal driver method utilizes the driver contained in the NIC's onboard PXE ROM. Unfortunately, manufacturer NIC PXE ROM driver implementations are sometimes incomplete and, at other times, operation may not be particularly robust. If time-out errors occur during multicast or unicast operations when using the universal driver, you may need to switch to the driver provided by your card manufacturer. Occassionaly, it may be possible to work around these issues by vastly reducing the Ghostcast Server or task network throughput setting, but at the cost of decreased performance.

4) If you are using a Console network boot image, and the Ghost Console Client is not present in the image you are deploying, the Ghost Console will not receive any notification that the operation has been completed, and will not be able to perform any post-clone configuration tasks.

Message Edited by Xan Todd on 07-16-200702:25 PM

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xan_todd's picture

Advanced Topic: Network boot parameters

You may never need this information, but when you have the basics operational, it is possible to implement customized execution based on run time parameters passed from the network boot server. Here is a brief example based on client side conditional processing of a MAC address:

   Autoexec.bat
   Rem - BootTPatch utility will replace parameters in MyCommand.bat
   BootTPatch MyCommand.bat
   MyCommand.bat

   MyCommand.bat
   Rem - The 'ha' parameter specifies a MAC address.
   Rem - The trailing #'s are place holders for the length of value to insert.
   If #@ha############==0015F27BB805 [Then execute something]
   If #@ha############==0015F27BB809 [Then execute something]

More details and the full list of available parameters are available in DosUtils.txt located in the 3Com program files directory.

The BootPTab control file is also worth a look.

Jiggie's picture

The instructions seem complete, but tthey still dont work. i have done all the steps and i still get a client error with PXE.

This is what i mean. Do we have to do anything to the template on the boottap editor?
On Step 6 it says to perform the desired operation, well when the pc boots it gives me this error.

PXE-T00: unspecified file opening error detected
PXE-E36: error received from tftp server
PXE-M0F: exiting broadcom pxe rom
This is on a d600. it uses the broadcom drive and i'm using the universal template you especified on your instructions..
any suggestions.


Update at 11:44. I just noticed something.

the symantec pxe services were installed, my fault. i installed deploy center. that was mistake number 1. BTW that worked sort of. at least it booted to the disk i created.

Now will install from scratch again. removed all programs and will install with a clean system. hope it works

Message Edited by Jiggie on 07-19-200708:47 AM

Jiggie's picture

errors still the same, the server errors are this

7/19/07 1:55 PM - Program started
7/19/07 1:55 PM - Server started
7/19/07 1:55 PM - Server stopped
7/19/07 2:13 PM - Server started
7/19/07 2:14 PM - TFTP Read C:\TFTPBOOT\\tftpboot\deploy.pxe from 192.168.1.168
7/19/07 2:14 PM - TFTP Read C:\TFTPBOOT\\tftpboot\deploy.pxe from 192.168.1.168
7/19/07 2:14 PM - TFTP Read C:\TFTPBOOT\\tftpboot\deploy.pxe from 192.168.1.168 Abort
7/19/07 2:14 PM - TFTP Read C:\TFTPBOOT\\tftpboot\deploy.pxe from 192.168.1.168 Abort


7/19/2007 1:55 PM - Server started
7/19/2007 1:56 PM - Data file: C:\TFTPBOOT\BOOTPTAB (7/19/2007 1:47 PM)
7/19/2007 1:56 PM - Data read: 1 hosts, 1 templates
7/19/2007 2:14 PM - Proxy: [000F1FB5C96A] (d600)
7/19/2007 2:14 PM - Proxy: [000F1FB5C96A] (d600)
7/19/2007 2:14 PM - PXE: [000F1FB5C96A] (d600)

but nothing happens.. please help

Hawes29's picture

I have been trying to get the ghosts clients to boot use DHCP, but have not managed it yet. When finding this thread I thought this will do it. I cannot find the administrator option in the setup, can you help. Ghost is installed on a separate machine to our DHCP server.

rockh1's picture

I tried to use the drivers that came with the card, but I get a GPF when Ghost tries to load.

Cn I use a somthing like a bootcat or something so I can use a 32 bit environment?

xan_todd's picture

Hi Everyone

For problems, please start separate threads. I think it will get a little difficult otherwise.

Jiggie: There's an extra backslash in the pxe path. I'm unsure if this will be affecting boot, but my logs do not show this. It would be good to locate and eliminate it.

Hawes29: Can you explain which part you are having a problem with - getting an address from DHCP, PXE boot or TFTP transfer.

RockH1: If you want to boot a 32 bit environment and use Ghost32.exe, there is a separate forum thread explaining how to boot Windows PE. If you want to try and get your existing environment working I can help with that one.

Please all continue in separate threads.

Thanks,
Xan




Message Edited by Xan Todd on 07-23-200711:27 AM

Message Edited by Xan Todd on 07-23-200712:00 PM

Hawes29's picture

Hi Xan Todd I have installed the ghost client letting it use DHCP, it installs ok. When I send a task from the console, the cleint reboots but then comes up with the following  message Network initialization failed: The dos mod client cannot proceed unable to obtain IP Address via DHCP.

 

Thanks In advance

xan_todd's picture

Hi Hawes29

Please start a separate thread with your question.

Thanks,
Xan

LNH Network Admin's picture
hi guys,
 
i just want to thank you for posting these details.
 
after i uninstalled aeverything, re-installed it freshly and followed your instructions it worked.
 
Cheers,
D.J.
Ghostly Dave's picture
Just a couple of additions to Xan's instructions for 3Com PXE newbies.
 
1) By default 3COM TFTP gets installed with 'Transmit secure mode' enabled which basically means that the path received from the TFTP client will have 'C:\TFTPBOOT\'  prepended to it.
 
My first attempt at installing PXE server as per the guidelines resulted in the client reporting:
 
PXE-T00: unspecified file opening error detected
PXE-E36: error received from tftp server
 
errors after aquiring a DHCP lease. A pretty meaningless error message and there were no entries in the 3ComTFTPS.LOG file to explain what was going on either. I traced this problem back to the 'default' template in the example BOOTPTAB file which had an entry:
 
hd:=\tftpboot\
 
which I had unwittingly copied to my own template believing that it was required. Removing this, then allowed the menu file to be retrieved. However, when selecting a menu item it once again failed. This resulted in the 3ComTFTPS.LOG file containing errors such as:
 
12:30:50 192.168.2.26 ABORT C:\TFTPBOOT\C:\TFTPBOOT\Ghost_Console_UNDI.sys
 
where once again unwittingly the 'C:\TFTPBOOT\'  was being prepended. This time I traced it to the menu file where there was a default path specified (options tab in the 3Com Boot Editor). After removing this default path, PXE boot into Ghost worked as expected.  
 
2) By default 3COM TFTP gets installed with 'Receive secure mode' disabled which basically means that a TFTP client by default can upload files to your server and by default it will drop them into %systemroot%\system32\ folder. By default it can't overwrite existing files, however as there doesn't appear to be a way to disable uploads, users may want to enable 'receive secure mode' and to specify a target directory.
 
 
Whilst on the subject of PXE, does anyone know if there are any standalone dedicated 'blackbox' PXE server solutions out there that support PXE / TFTP /DHCP ? It looks like the sort of thing that might  be found in a small SOHO router/switch type networking box.
 
Dave
Zahid.Haseeb's picture

what it does mean (see note 1). what is the version u used of ghost. i am using 2.5 but i am unable to find the      Install 3Com PXE Boot Services

Any comment will be appreciated. Mark as Solution if your query is resolved
__________________
Thanks in Advance
Zahid Haseeb

zahidhaseeb.wordpress.com