Network Server Setup: Network Operating System Installation

After you’ve physically connected the server computer to the network, you can install the network operating system (NOS) on the server. Regardless of which network operating system you choose to use for your network servers, you can use any of the common ways to actually install the NOS software on the server computer.

Installing over the network

Normally, you install the NOS directly from the CD-ROM distribution discs on the server’s CD-ROM drive. However, you can also install the operating system from a shared drive located on another computer, provided that the server computer already has access to the network. You can either use a shared CD-ROM drive or you can copy the entire contents of the distribution CD-ROM disc onto a shared hard drive.

Obviously, the server computer must have network access in order for this technique to work. If the server already has an operating system installed, it probably already has access to the network. If not, you can boot the computer from a floppy that has basic network support.

If you’re going to install the NOS onto more than one server, you can save time by first copying the distribution CD onto a shared hard drive. That’s because even the fastest CD-ROM drives are slower than the network. Even with a basic 10 Mbps network, access to hard drive data over the network is much faster than access to a local CD-ROM drive.

Automated and remote installations

In case you find yourself in the unenviable position of installing a NOS onto several servers, you can use a few tricks to streamline the process:

  • Automated setup lets you create a setup script that provides answers to all the questions asked by the installation program. After you’ve created the script, you can start the automated setup, leave, and come back when the installation is finished. Creating the setup script is a bit of work, so automated setup makes sense only if you have more than a few servers to install.

  • Microsoft has a feature called Remote Installation Services (RIS) that lets you install Windows server versions from a remote network location without even going to the server computer. This is tricky to set up, however, so it’s really worth it only if you have a lot of servers on which to install operating systems. (You can also use RIS to install client operating systems.)