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Joined: 3-September 09
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Last Seen: 9th March 2010 - 09:39 PM
Local Time: Jun 16 2010, 10:04 PM 35 posts (0.12 per day)

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24 Sep 2009
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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!
9 Sep 2009
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Speed Up TFTP?
So I increased TFTP transfer speed by about x5 by increasing the anticipation window to 4092, and now my large files fly across the network. I would really like to speed up the inital loading of the PXE though so I dont have to wait throught the Trying to load: pxelinux.cfg/xxxxxxxxxxx... and have it go right to Trying to load: pxelinux.cfg/default. I've been searching and all I find is people with issues of it hanging while its loading. Mine loads fine, just want to skip right to /default.

Any thougts?
3 Sep 2009
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PXE boot 45MB Stripped Down XP PE for Ghosting
Hey all,

I have a very peculiar setup, and I have been working to on it for close to a month with varying levels of success.

I'll give you a brief overview of what I'm trying to accomplish.

I am refurbishing large numbers of notebooks (2000+ mixed models), and this requires them to be low level DoD Secure erased, and re imaged via multicast with pre-built Ghost images.

I have had numerous issues with the DOS version of Ghost and newer hardware, eg. AHCI. To overcome this I have created a stripped down, customized, and automated version of XP PE, allowing me to use Ghost32.exe and advanced networking. It works fine when booted off a USB flash drive, and I managed to create a 45MB PXE image, allowing much faster deployment. The PXE image works on many systems, while on other it comes up with a TRAP 00000006 EXCEPTION error, an issue caused by corrupted XPLOADER.BIN, a little bit on that later.

As I said, it works fine on all systems when using the USB flash drive. Here is some info on the PXE image I created and its setup:

-Created a 45MB fixed size virtual hard drive in MS VirutalPC.

-Created an active primary FAT32 partition.

-Using WinImage mount the image as a virtual drive in Windows and run grubinst and GUI from grub4dos-0.4.2, and copied over modified menu.lst and grldr.

-find --set-root /XPLOADER.BIN
-chainloader /XPLOADER.BIN

-Next I convert the VirtualPC .vhd file to a .ima using WinImage, allowing the image to be added to my syslinux PXE boot menu along with my other utilities (customized Dos Ghost floppies, DBAN, etc).

-Then I add the modified files from my stripped down Mini XP, resulting in the following directory setup:



-Once its all saves, I test it out over the PXE and on 80% of the systems it works fine.

Now here is the main issue...

On the systems that don't work, I have played around with menu.lst, trying to figure out what the issue is. I have determined that the XP files are OK, since they usually work. And by some random chance I found that it does work on the systems that normally error, while repeatedly pressing PAUSE and ENTER (my own debugging mode lol), and just after chainloader line is executed quickly pressing PAUSE and ENTER almost simultaneously causes it to boot fine. I tried adding pauses at different parts of the menu.lst, but they all still result in the exception error. I think the boot operation is being executed before the xploader.bin is completely loaded. Lots of googling has lead me to believe the error message is basically complaining about a corrupted MBR or partition and that is why it isn't loading properly.

*The loaded PXE image is located at (hd0,0)

After combing through the Grub4DOS manual I found that the chainloader command has several options, one being the EBX/EDX. I'm not quite sure how to implement it, but there are references in the exception error that have eax=00000000, ebx=00000002, ecx=00010080, edx=0031B06F, etc.

While running in debug mode I found this:

will boot NTLDR from drive=0x80, partition=0x0(hidden sectors=0x11)

I believe this is the first step of the chainloader operation, after this there is one step that shows no output and then the next step completes the chainloader operation which i assume is automatic boot command. When running the commands manually from the console prompt or in debug mode it still has the same error issue when executing boot. The only way it works is the strange physical pressing of the PAUSE key. I am hoping that someone has a way to pause or stall the chainloder operation midway through. I think that would solve the problem allowing the XPLOADER.bin to load fully.

I'm fairly green at programming and I wouldn't know where to even start recompiling Grub4DOS to add a pause in there somewhere. I know there is quite a bit of info here to digest, but I've been trying very hard... but I'm stumped, any help would be greatly appreciated. I can provide more details and even upload some files if necessary.


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