For a while I've been putting off building/buying a new desktop since my
Shuttle died. I've been using an old Dell server as a "desktop" and it
worked fine for my daily Linux stuff but it didn't have PCIe so I
couldn't play TF2 or SupCom or anything. Good for working, bad for
relaxing. Finally I begged/borrowed/stole enough parts to get a machine
with my 7800GT up and running. (Aside, dropped the 2xSATA hard drives in
and rebooted with not a single bit of hardware in common between the two
machines, Arch picked everything up and every bit of functionality Just
Worked. No hardware support in Linux my ass.)
Problem. This machine only has space/slots for 2 SATA drives and I run
LVM2 over MD software raid in linux religiously, and I didn't leave a
spare partition for Windows. I could get a PCI sata controller but that
would involve spending money. And more importantly it would be sane.
Enter the insanity. I have Gigabit ethernet to the desktop, my server
has enough space to handle a windows install and conveniently, gPXE lets
you boot Windows XP from an AoE
terrifyingly, does work; I'm typing from it now. As a bonus I get my
windows install on a multi-disk RAID without having to buy a raid card.
Next step is to have the same install boot from VMware (though not at
the same time obviously).
A couple of notes on what I found out doing this for real:
- Have your network card's drivers ready. Use Intel Pro/1000 cards for
- Use the gpxe:all-drivers lkrn if you have grub installed, otherwise
start with the .iso and burn a cd. Space is cheaper than reboots when
you guessed the driver wrong. Rom-O-Matic
is your friend.
- Don't bother if you don't have the ability to install windows for
real on the first partition of a physical disk, getting the drivers
into an existing XP install isn't worth it even if it is possible and
editing the partition table to move a later partition forward is not
fun unless you're a real MBR guru (sfdisk!).
- The instructions say to use a file, but vblade can export an
arbitrary block device, if I had free unallocated LVM space I'd make
a LV and get cheap snapshotting in addition to RAID.
- 4GB isn't enough. A fresh SP2 install basically fills it and I
haven't investigated expanding the file, though it ought to be doable
using the dd seek command as below. If I get annoyed enough I'll
recreate it with a 10-15 GB LV/sparse disk which should be enough for
Windows AND Steam.
To make a second (10GB) disk in the meantime I did (in gentoo):
#create a 10G sparse file
dd if=/dev/zero of=aoe_data.img bs=1 seek=10737418240 count=0
#add a vblade
echo "config_vblade1=\"0 1 eth1 /home/aoe_data.img\"" >> /etc/conf.d/vblade
#enable and start it
ln -s /etc/init.d/vblade.vblade0 /etc/init.d/vblade.vblade1
On the windows side, first attach the disk (use the MAC of your server obviously).
aoe mount 00:DE:AD:BE:EF:00 0 1
Then you can go into Administrative Tools -> Computer Mangement -> Storage -> Disk Management (Local)
(Don't have that menu item?)
and find the disk that you just made. Note the label, it's Disk 8 on my
machine. To be sure you can right-click to Properties and make sure it
says "Location: AoE e0.1" or similar. Create a new Dynamic Disk volume
(so you can expand it later if you want), format it NTFS and set the
right drive letter. To make it come up on boot, I had to dig. Thanks to
this you can do this (where
8 is the number of the "disk" in the local storage snap in (save as
select disk 8 online
and add the value "C:mount_aoe_drive_e.bat", call it whatever you
like. The contents are:
aoe mount 00:DE:AD:BE:EF:00 0 1 diskpart /s C:\bring_e_online.txt