Mild brain picking (PXE boot multi OS from server, ethernet speed for virtualization, & more)

Discussion in 'Linux Admins, Storage and Virtualization' started by Twice_Shy, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. Twice_Shy

    Twice_Shy Member

    Jan 2, 2017
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    So this is really early in a process... i'm not seeking handholding, just kind of thinking out loud with a bit of a wishlist and seeking some feedback and pointers about what I need to learn about before I can progress more. Also making sure I even understand the whole process.

    I may be wrong on what some terms mean - i've only read about things and I may have misunderstood something.

    I am wanting to set up Storage Virtualization with PXE booted workstations. The workstations do not have to be diskless, just network booted. I want a single management console, uncorruptable "boot images" I can select on startup, and a single chassis with all the hard drives so I can deal with it in one place.

    The boot images are multiple operating systems - older and newer windows (ideally Windows XP thru Windows 10), Mac OSX (hackintosh version), linux/FreeBSD/possibly others loaded on the workstations just to experiment with or for some special purpose. But at the minimum a Win/Mac/Lin boot images.

    Each workstation is network booted but does not have to be diskless. The possibility of a small local SSD or even a normal HD (for things like scratch disk use) to avoid swamping the network (especially 1gigE) is possible. Just as possible is a single shared Intel 750 NVMe on the storage server shared between multiple workstations and keeping the load on the network.

    Ideally I would like the idea to boot off a network image, have any "changes" to the virtual drive done locally (to the HD, SSD, or just a RAMdrive) with a choice to either discard them at the end of a day, or to 'save' them to a separate image. (since more than one PC boots from the same image, this obviously branches into multiple updated images if more than one saves of course) To allow snapshots, rollbacks, customized software experimentation.

    Possibly interested in networking via Infiniband or FibreChannel instead of 10gig Ethernet if this is possible. Not necessarily on all OS'es. (ie WinXP which i'm sure has no drivers PXEbooting or otherwise could ever use) Also wondering if 1gig Ethernet would bottleneck if things like even the swapfile were technically remote drives (even if it was a remote ramdisk or SSD) vs the overhead.

    Where would I begin learning about the software necessary to make all this work? (ignore the hardware for now, outside of comments on IB/FC working at all anyways) I am considering this to alternatives like running daily drive imaging over the network to backup and restore a system to a baseline state instead, or using a SAN to mount disks as 'local' storage even if not located local, and similar.

    I am looking for more than one way to solve similar problems before committing to any specific plan.
  2. voxadam

    voxadam Member

    Apr 21, 2016
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    I'm reasonably sure that it's possible to install XP to and boot from an iSCSI target. It should be possible to such a system from an iSCSI LUN by way of InfiniBand or Fibre Channel. IB came to market around the same time as XP and FC predates both. Heck, I'll bet if you really wanted to you could do it all with 2k or even NT4.

    EDIT: If all else fails, iPXE is your friend.

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