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How to boot a PC over home network into an installed Linux Virtual machine

post #1 of 3
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So I have a Windows 8 desktop with VMware Workstation 8 installed on it. I have created a guest OS in the virtual machine (openSuse Linux 64 bit) I would like to take an old Pentium 4 machine I have and perform a network boot into the Linux virtual machine as its operating system. The Pentium 4 does not have a hard drive but it does have RAM and it is capable of PXE booting. The thing is I have NO idea how to accomplish this and the more I search the web for answers I either get lost or sidetracked right off of what I am trying to set out to do. My main PC that has win 8 and vmware on it has 2x GigE LAN adapters, 1 going to the internet and the other going to the "thin client wannabe" PC. It also has a 1 gbps ethernet adapter. If this will not work connecting directly the 2 computers via ethernet, I have a older Linksys wrt54GS flashed over to DD-WRT. I know that DD-WRT has settings for the DHCP (to point the thin PC to a boot image upon startup) and I have read that I need a TFTP server for something? I used TFTP to flash my router to DD-WRT but I do not know much about that either. My goal is to be able to press the power button on the thinPC (pentium 4) and it loads up the VM I have running on my 8 core PC. I really hope that I didnt lose anyone and explained myself properly. I read some about vSphere 5.1 and ESX but dont know if that is what I am looking for or not. I have read up on some open source thin client software based on Linux but also do not know if that is what I am looking for exactly. I guess my problem is I really dont know what the answer is to accomplishing this and if I was staring right at the problem 2+2= the number 4 could come smack me in the face and I still wouldn't know the solution (in that case the sum)
    
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post #2 of 3
I don't know of a way to boot into a VM that is already running through PXE. Reading your post it actually doesn't sound like what you really want to do anyways. None the less here are two possible ways that will work for you.

The first and probably the easiest is to install a lightweight Linux OS on your P4 machine. From there set it up to remote desktop into the openSUSE VM running on your main PC. You could set up a task to automatically make it connect to the openSUSE VM as soon as the lightweight OS loads. You wouldn't need a hard drive to install the lightweight OS on, it could run off of a USB stick or compact flash card. The openSUSE VM will still be running on your main PC and using its resources.

The second option and more complicated would be to set up a PXE boot system. Your going to need to set this up differently though. You'll start with making another VM of linux (debian based preferably for the packages I'm mentioning). This will then need a program like FOG or DRBL installed. FOG or DRBL will handle the PXE boot process and image capture and loading. It will be the server for all of your installations. You can setup custom images that you can then PXE boot from any machine with a capable NIC.

From there you can use either one of those programs to convert your existing openSUSE VM you have now to the proper format to be able to PXE boot it. You can also setup VMware to PXE boot the openSUSE image as well after your have converted it.

Here is the issue though with PXE booting that you may not be fully aware of. You can boot an image of a system over the network but changes to that image will not be saved, so any changes you make will be not be there the next time your boot the image. If you want the image to be dynamic you will have to capture the image before you shut down every time. Unless your network and drives are really fast this can take a bit of time and is usually more headache than it is worth.

If you just want to use your existing VM on the P4 machine then I'd really recommend booting a lightweight OS and then remoting into the openSUSE VM. This will keep the VM running on your main PC and it will use all of its resources. If you PXE boot then the OS will use the P4's resources and could be much slower (if your P4 isn't 64-bit capable then you'll have to switch to a 32-bit as well).

I was running a FOG system myself to boot an XBMC image over my network to HTPCs so I can point you in the right direction with it if that is the route you want to take. There are some pretty good tutorials on the websites as well.

FOG: http://www.fogproject.org/

DRBL: http://drbl.sourceforge.net/
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post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
very nice reply thank you a lot. I am going to check out the FOG setup and see if that is what I want to do. Do you think Slitaz Linux is capable to run off USB and connect to a VM? It is a very very light weight Linux just do not know if it is able to connect to an existing virtual machine over ethernet? Anyways thanks again for the reply. I have been on a Linux downloading spree lately. So far I have the following:

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Gnome 64 bit
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Gnome 32 bit
Slitaz 32 bit
OpenSuse 32 bit KDE
Opensuse 64 bit KDE
CentOS 64 bit
Linux Mint 15 cinnamon 64 bit
System Rescue Linux
Parted Magic Linux
artistx
Backtrack 5 R3 64 bit
Kali Linux 1.0.3 64 bit

I still want to have Debian and Fedora

Why do I have all these? Am I a Distro hopper? Maybe so but I enjoy testing new things and keeping myself busy in my down time.
    
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