Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk and PXELINUX

This is a repost from my old blog.

This is a very special thing. I’m running a boot server in my network. And I wanted to boot an image of Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk v6.2 (www.netbootdisk.com) directly over the network.

Universal TCP/IP Network Bootdisk only needs one floppy disk and contains all files and tools for booting MS-DOS and connecting to a windows share / samba share on the network. I like to use it for HDD imaging tools like „Drive Image“.

I created the bootdisk on a real floppy and used WinImage to create the floppy image. I moved it to my server and added an entry to pxelinux.cfg/default.

LABEL netbootdisk
MENU LABEL ^network bootdisk, PC-DOS based
KERNEL memdisk
APPEND initrd=pcdos70_netbootdisk_v6.2.img

Most of my client systems booted without problem. But the system I really needed to boot via network doesn’t. So I had to do some research. The target system is thin client, Neoware EON2000, with 300 MHz CPU and 32 MB RAM, no disk. It doesn’t support booting from usb media. That’s why I need network booting. The on-board network card has a PXE boot ROM.

The main problem is RAM. The target system is short of RAM and the bootdisk uses a RAM drive. One of the archiver programms also needs a lot of RAM to work. I can not simply add RAM cause I don’t have and don’t want to buy.

I searched the forum at netbootdisk.com and found this topic. I re-packed the file FILES.UHA with the given command in that topic. The problem now is, that the new file wouldn’t fit on the disk any more. So I used WinImage to resize the floppy image to 1,68 MB (command „change format“ in menu „Image“). I didn’t use more to save memory on the target machine.

But that was not enough. I also had the reduce the RAM disk size to 6144 kB (edit config.sys on the floppy). And I unpacked the files directly from the virtual floppy, not copying FILES.UHA to the RAM disk first. That let me reduce the RAM disk size. For this, edit AUTOEXEC.BAT, SCRIPT.BAT in netboot and SCRIPT2.BAT from FILES.UHA.

I used Menu Editor GUI to set the default values and to add a logon script for my server.

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