Over these past few days, I have been looking and conducting trials on the various forms of massive or volume based formatting of some of our desktops with linux-based distributions. Since I have the network infrastructure resources at the office (where I work in) at my "diligent" disposal to use, an obvious solution is creating a system that will catch network boot (netboot) requests.
Some few months ago, I have been taught on using DRBL together with Clonezilla for "mass-producing" thin-client units for one of the office's projects. I was planning to integrate this service onto our network but somehow having trouble in configuring it's DHCP server to cooperate or simply use the one already present and implemented on our gateway server. I also partially abandoned the cloning idea because you are basically limited to cloning.
With some discussions done with my peers at the office, this side-project is once again up and running about, but this time I'm experimenting the use of tftpboot and FAI-server. Basically, my current objective is to create a server (a small VM instance) that will handle any lookup for a boot loader. Right now, I have been able to set up a Debian Lenny server with tftpboot installed and configured our gateway/DHCP server to point into that server for pxeboot image request (not sure on how this is called). To test, I stored a generic (available) netboot image of a Debian and Ubuntu Karmic installer that will be thrown into the target desktop PC. So far it is working but of course I still need to figure our a way of optimizing it.
The next steps that I am trying to undertake is studying how to then set it up with FAI (fully automated install). Things are still a bit fuzzy on how to implement this; from what I read, I still have to prep-up a nfs partition or such that will store the images and scripts I plan to install.
Maybe next time... if I have some free time... I could make a detailed blog on configuring each of those features I did mention.