Diskless Remote Boot in Linux

About DRBL

DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux) is free software, open source solution to managing the deployment of the GNU/Linux operating system across many clients. Imagine the time required to install GNU/Linux on 40, 30, or even 10 client machines individually! DRBL allows for the configuration all of your client computers by installing just one server (remember, not just any virtual private server) machine.

DRBL provides a diskless or systemless environment for client machines. It works on Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS and SuSE. DRBL uses distributed hardware resources and makes it possible for clients to fully access local hardware. It also includes Clonezilla, a partitioning and disk cloning utility similar to True Image® or Norton Ghost®.

The features of DRBL:

Peacefully coexists with other OS

DRBL uses PXE/etherboot, NFS, and NIS to provide services to client machines so that it is not necessary to install GNU/Linux on the client hard drives individually. Once the server is ready to be a DRBL server, the client machines can boot via PXE/etherboot (diskless). "DRBL" does NOT touch the client hard drives, therefore, other operating systems (e.g. MS Windows) installed on the client machines will be unaffected. This could be useful in, for example, during a phased deployment of GNU/Linux where users still want to have the option of booting to Windows and running some applications only available on MS windows. DRBL allows great flexibility in the deployment of GNU/Linux.

Simply install DRBL on a single server and all your clients are taken care of

Using a standard PC, you can transform a group of client PCs into a working GNU/Linux network in some steps:

  • Download the DRBL package
  • Run the scripts
In about 30 minutes, all the client machines will be ready to run GNU/Linux and all associated packages. No more deploying client machines one by one. Just use DRBL!

Save on hardware, budget, and maintenance fees

Hard drives are optional for a DRBL client. Actually, the hard drive is just another moving part that creates more noise and is susceptible to failure. If a hard drive is present, the client can be configured to use it as swap space while GNU/Linux is installed and configured on the centralized boot server.
A lot of time can be saved by configuring the client settings at the boot server when using the DRBL centralized boot environment. This gives the system administrator more control over what software configurations are running on each client.