Altiris and Linux Pre-boot

Altiris uses Linux as a preboot enviroment.  One of three, WinPE, MSDOS, Linux, Linux is supposed to be the most flexible, adding in speed and also scripablitiy.  However the biggest frustration of dealing w/ Linux in the preboot enviroment is the same problem that is hindering Linux’ s adoption in the desktop/server world, the lack of driver support. 

This is further complicated by the fact that you are dealing w/ a stripped down, customized kernel that Altiris provides for you and is version specific.  For example if you use version 6.5 of Deployment Server, then you are limited to using kernel 2.6.15.1 and if you use version 6.8 of DS then you are limited to using kernel 2.6.16.20.  This causes lots of problems w/ booting newer hardware, especially the new Intel Q965 chipset that Linux struggles with.  In fact the 2.6.18 kernel has a patch that address this problem.

Note: Ubuntu 6.10 (the Edgy Eft) has backported a fix from the 2.6.18 kernel into the 2.6.17 kernel that it ships with.

So if you are using DS 6.5 and Linux as your preboot and you have some of the newer hardware how do you image your computers?  You upgrade or switch to WinPE.  Which is a harsh view of things.  I’m working at a client right now that has 5000 computers, multiple PXE servers, 2 Deployment Servers, and several package servers.  And Altiris’ solution is to upgrade…

I guess I don’t understand why the Linux Developers make such a change to how Deployment works.  How long is Altiris going to be supporting 6.5?  How often is the kernel upgraded to support changes to hardware and other improvements?  One can only help that in DS 7.0 Altiris does something and makes a change to allow for a more modular kernel.

One thought on “Altiris and Linux Pre-boot

  1. Pingback: EU and PCs without Operating Systems: How to Create Another Disadvantage for Apple and Linux - Rob Enderle

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