On Sun, Oct 18, 2009 at 4:36 PM, Marcos Favero Florence de Barros
<fav...@mpcnet.com.br> wrote:
> I built and support a DataPerfect database with 8 computers
> networked through MS-Client.
> Since this network is completely dedicated to the database (i.e.,
> it needs not run any other software), I decided to get rid of the
>    (1) Which is the best approach to booting client computers
>        without hard disks?

This largely depends on the computers and environment they are in.
CD-ROM and Network based booting will both be similar in that the
commonly (and probably easist) method involves copying a floppy image
to RAM and then booting DOS from there with DOS thinking its booting
from a floppy.  In both cases there are generic drivers that allow
access using the BIOS services for the remaining CD-ROM data or
Networking respectively, though it is best to load device specific
drivers when feasible and continued access is needed.  The CD-ROM and
USB based booting both require that users not remove the disk, though
given you already boot them from floppy this probably isn't a problem
in your environment.  Most current PCs can boot from USB, CD-ROM and
probably Network if its built in to the motherboard, but you need to
consider if all will have a CD-ROM drive, if the nic supports network
booting and what method [PXE or older technology - for addon nics does
it have a ROM chip installed, usually they are sold with a socket that
can be used to enable network booting but no chip], and is the USB
slot in a good location physically to ensure no one accidently or
otherwise removes device/blocks access to other ports in cases where
drive is bulky.  For less than a dozen computers the cost of USB drive
(assuming flash based) is probably not an issue but could be in the
general case, wherease CDRs are low enough to not be.  For a small LAN
there should be no issues with speed/reliability of network, but the
server may need to have additional services added if not already, eg
DHCP server and TFTP.  USB booting may have quirks depending on BIOS,
but I've found drive access to generally be reliable (perhaps slow).
Anyway from a DOS standpoint, any should be fine once setup.  CD-ROM
booting is going to be the simplest, its just a matter of taking your
current floppy, make an image, use something like ISOLINUX with
MEMDISK or even your CD recording software's basic CD boot by
specifying image, burn the disc.  I recommend the ISOLINUX/MEMDISK
approach as it is reliable but also provides a writable drive (though
edits don't survive reboots) which can be handy as software often
opens files R/W and enables using pipes at the command line (type
XX.TXT | MORE); you may not need this in your case.

>    (2) Where do I find the relevant instructions?

I am just typing this up real quick so don't have a good answer, but I
recommend you check out SYSLINUX's ISO and PXE variants.  A google
search should find several methods to make a bootable USB disk, but
basically depending on if your BIOS expects it as a floppy or hd
determines whether you format it as a floppy (1st sector is start of
FAT) or hd where you need to FDISK it and then format (1st sector is
partition table).

> Thanks,
> Marcos Florence
> Sao Paulo, Brazil

Probably didn't answer your question, but if you have a specific
question I will do my best to help answer.


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