updated 02:20 pm EDT, Mon August 6, 2007
Booting Macs over the LAN
Small Tree Communications today announced that it has completed work on new firmware for its single port optical gigabit adapters that will allow Power Mac owners to boot from a network drive, rather than a local disk. The company's network cards allow users to NetBoot Apple systems that use Open Firmware Standard -- all of Apple's PowerPC systems -- over the network. The NetBoot capability in Mac OS X's server permits multiple Mac systems to boot from a single server-based disk image, which in turn enables users to create a standard configuration and use it on all of the desktop systems in a department or classroom, or host multiple images customized for different workgroups.
Users can also create server configurations and run all of the servers from one image, and revising the disk image on the NetBoot server automatically updates all the NetBoot configured systems the next time they restart, according to Small Tree.
"Apple supports NetBoot today over their built in copper Ethernet interfaces," said Corky Seeber, president of Small Tree Communications. "With Small Tree's new firmware, these same systems can be made to boot over the optical networks that are popular at military, law enforcement and national lab installations. In addition to booting the default NetBoot image, Small Tree's cards are fully compatible with the Startup Disk tool. This allows users to select multiple NetBoot images and gives the flexibility to maintain several images for different system types. All of Small Tree's PCI Express cards are compatible with Apple's Intel based systems for remote boot using EFI."
Users can copy a directory server configuration to all clients using the same system image, and security-conscious organizations can boot Macs "disklessly" without the need to read from or write to the computer's local hard drive.
"A client can boot from our card and come up diskless," Seeber added. "To support this feature we developed special open firmware drivers for our optical products. Standard Ethernet cards, including copper, won't do this. The only other NetBoot option for customers is to use Apple's internal ports."