I'm wondering if anybody knows what exactly the "realmode" part of the NT installation phase is responsible for? Ie, the part that copies installation files + reboots the computer, whereafter the NT kernel is loaded and the rest of the installation takes places.

The reason I'm asking is that I'd like to do a network install, and have had a lot of trouble getting the microsoft dos client for TCP/IP working - and that's sortof what I need to launch the dos/realmode part of the NT install.

So I was thinking... if you don't really need to do more than set up partitions, install MBR, and copy over files... it shouldn't be too hard to do this myself. One could take a linux kernel and make a custom installer, and be able to install from windows SMB shares, NFS, ftp, *whatever* - hell, even install the files from .cab or .tar.bz2 instead of those pesky individual files. Would probably also be a lot faster than running the install from dos, even with smartdrv and all.

This would be a pretty nifty project to do, I think :)
Posted on 2003-09-23 14:29:58 by f0dder
Can't you do such a thing with unattended install? I think it should be able to install automatically over a network. Don't know the details though, never used it..

Posted on 2003-09-23 16:04:39 by Thomas
I almost always do unattended setup these days - but that still requires access to the network resources... which I don't have because of the inability to create a dos floppy with TCP/IP microsoft networking support...

This project would also be more for fun & learning than the practical use - if I needed to do a large amount of installs, I'd look into ghost+imagecast. Though if this could be done, it _would_ be practical - using solid compression instead of lots of individually COMPRESS.EXE compressed files + a decent disk cache instead of smartdrv.exe would make install time faster - so this could be used for network installs (of any type... nfs, smb, www, ftp, whatever) as well as local media installs (done faster than normal NT installs). Plus the install app could be customized as one wants.
Posted on 2003-09-23 16:11:25 by f0dder
Maybe this is something:


Posted on 2003-09-28 03:32:16 by Thomas
I've seen that site a couple of times, and it didn't help much.
I think parsing "layout.inf" and including a MBR and Partition bootsector might be the way to go.
Posted on 2003-09-28 04:25:07 by f0dder
I think what you need is a "Network Boot Disk".
Right now I don't know how to make or use it.. I might try to find out something about it..
Posted on 2003-10-05 04:09:50 by John Kiro
Posted on 2003-10-05 04:45:33 by donkey
Hi f0dder,
Try using RIS (Remote Installation Services). You need special NIC eg 3COM.
Have you try Server Image from Power Quest ?

Posted on 2003-10-05 07:39:33 by QS_Ong
Donkey, the microsoft article looks sort of okay, but it involves a NT4 server CD, and the msclient stuff which I haven't had much success with previously.

ASM, this would mean purchasing some expensive software and hardware - this is for use at home and small networks where this kind of investment can't be justified.

Also, it would be more fun to do the installation "myself", if possible. Which it should be, unless you have to do special things like eg intializing the registry. Too bad I'm busy with other projects at the moment.
Posted on 2003-10-05 07:43:36 by f0dder
Unfortunately there is no way to create a boot disk without the Network Client Administration utility and that is only found on NT server. For some reason they left it out of 2K/XP. You can try to download one of the more generic versions:

Posted on 2003-10-05 23:40:26 by donkey