Tips and Tricks/Booting

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All boot-related information.


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Win32-Loader

This howto is simply a translation (July 21, 2012) into English from the excellent one created by Alkis Georgopoulos on behalf of the technical support team for Greek schools.

Description

This method applies when the pc already has Windows 2000 (or newer.) It will add the option to boot the pc from the server on the network while continuing the possibility to boot into Windows as before. This is achieved with the program win32-loader.exe. The boot loader of Windows is used and a small file is added to the Windows partition.

Booting from the network allows the pc

  1. to become a thin or fat client connected to a server with LTSP,
  2. to enable an installation of WDS or FOG or netboot,
  3. to enable setting up backups or partitioning and
  4. other possibilities.

Those pc's which are equipped with an option to boot from the network already do not require this method. However, those older pc's which are not provided with such an option need only have a working network card and a working Windows installation as described above to be empowered with this option.

History

The Linux distro Debian provided an application called win32-loader which, once installed in Windows, added the option to start up Linux. This was further enhanced by the Hellenic Schools Technical Support Team so that win32-loader now offers the option of iPXE. This option empowers the pc to boot from the network. The team sends upstream to Debian each update they develop and Debian accepts the updated package.

How to Install

Download win32-loader.exe which is the Windows installer program. Log on to Windows as the administrator or acquire admin rights starting up win32-loader.exe. (note I fired it up within Windows 2000 server without such rights and it all seemed to install but upon reboot it was revealed that nothing in the Windows boot loader had changed) click to agree with the user's license. Choose the iPXE option and if presented with a choice to continue installing Linux ignore it since only the option to boot from the network is desired.

Now when the pc starts up a list of options should first appear, giving a dual boot between Windows as before or booting from the network:

If desired further tweaking of this list of options (timeout, default, etc.) either consult Microsoft on how to edit the boot.ini file or consider a free (as in beer) graphical frontend from http://neosmart.net/EasyBCD/ which is a tool that provides this tweaking.

Lastly, win32-loader can be removed by uninstalling it through the Windows control panel.

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