FAQ for BKO

Q. When should I use BKO for booting? A.

We envision following usage for BKO

  1. To experiment with different distributions available on this site, and install one which you like most.
  2. To save your data/system when somehow your system is messed up and you want to recover it. You can use many of the tools available on BKO to rescue yourself.
  3. You can do automated mass booting and automated installation for large number of workstations. This can be done by adding specific embedded script to BKO (or by having your private BKO server).
  4. BKO can be used to boot diskless machines. Our customization section will let you to download .rom image that can be burned on BIOS. This will enable machines without harddisk's can boot in any OS available on BKO. You can choose to either burn on BIOS, or use floppy image, CDROM image or USB image. There is no requirement for having harddisk.
  5. Other than these, if you find any other use for BKO, then please share with us. we will be glad to hear from you.

Q.
Why it is slow?
A.

  • Your entire Operating System is fetched over Internet from far far away server and this takes time.
  • The delay is mostly in booting process, once the system is booted, it should work faster.
  • We recommend you to choose nearby mirror, which will give you much better performance.
  • In most of the usage scinario's mentioned above, some delay is tolerable.
  • We recommend you to not to run your daily system from BKO, Please install one of the system available on BKO.

Q.
What about my privacy and security?
A.

We understand your concern, following clarifications should make matter clear for you. You are free to make any decision after that.

  • Your machine will only download data from server and will never send to the server. So you need not worry about privacy.
  • We provide unmodified ISO's of all distributions, You are always welcome to verify the checksum with actual distribution provider.
  • Even better, you can provide the path of the ISO directly, and your machine will use only that ISO.
  • We only modify InitRAMFS, which is needed to boot over HTTPFS. This modified InitRAMFS is deleted once booting is complete. Hence, if you trust the ISO used, you can trust the system.
  • This is Open Source project, you are welcome to review the code.
  • We also plan to support HTTPS for avoiding any data-tempering on the way.

Q.
Why should I create BKO enabled USB?
A.

  • Creating BKO enabled USB is one-time job, once it is created, you need not worry about upgredation, as it is taken care by BKO servers. It will always let you boot with latest distributions and tools available on BKO.
  • You do not waste your USB as there is way to create BKO enabled USB which can be used as normal data storage device. As BKO takes less than 1 MB of space, you have almost entire USB for data storage.
  • BKO enabled USB can be used to boot (almost) any system as long as there is Internet connectivity.
    It is worth considering this ability against 1MB of space and few minutes for creation of BKO enabled USB.
  • You can use gpxe.lkrn which is linux kernel like module and can boot boot.kernel.org from syslinux/grub.
  • Other simple way to create BKO enabled USB is to copy gpxe.dsk image onto USB using
    dd
    command. Please note that just copying into USB will not work, it has to be placed on 0 sector. Few howtos that you can refer to for this way of creating BKO enabled USB.

Q.
What is the difference between gpxe.dsk and gpxe.usb images?
A.

gpxe.dsk are floppy disk images and can be used to boot from floppy or USB. there is no special disk layout for USB drives. Either they are unpartitioned devices (e.g., treated like a floppy disk without a partition table and just a boot block and filesystem) or they are treated more like hard disk drives (that is, they contain a partition table and an MBR, and each partition potentially contains a boot block and filesystem). USB devices can be booted either as floppy units or as hard disk units (depending on whether or not they are partitioned and whether the BIOS supports one or the other.) Some BIOSes will only boot USB devices that look like a floppy and some will only boot USB devices that look like a HD. Depending on your system, you can use gpxe.dsk or gpxe.usb

Q.
I am behind firewall, Will BKO boot me?
A.

BKO is based on HTTPFS and it uses only valid HTTP requests. It means, if you have HTTP access, you can boot with BKO.
Only problem that may occur is if you are behind HTTP proxy. We plan to add support for HTTP proxy in near future. Stay tuned till then.

It is expected that you can use Public DNS system as BKO is configured to use Public dns servers instead of the servers provided by user or DHCP. We will be soon fixing this problem. Till then, you are expected to have public DNS access.

Q.
I just want to test BKO, without rebooting the system, Can I do it?
A.

If you want to just test our solution without rebooting, then we will recommend you to download the floppy image of gpxe, and use vmware, qemu or other virtualization solutions to boot from gpxe you downloaded. In case of qemu, you can use following command:

	qemu -fda gpxe.dsk
Certain older version of qemu do not work properly with gpxe, so we recommend vmware or latest qemu. In case of vmware, you just need to provide gpxe.dsk as floopy disk attached to the hardware and big enough RAM. You may not give any Harddisk.

Q.
Any other protocols are supported?
A.

We are working on booting over iscsi protocol. iscsi gives better performance compared to httpfs, which makes it more desirable. We have implemented and deployed iscsi support for debian and Ubuntu on BKO. Support for other distributions is still in pipeline.