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What is BpBatch ?

BpBatch is a versatile remote-boot processor, that can be downloaded for free from the Web. It can perform a large variety of actions on a computer at boot-time, before any operating system operation has started. Actions performed by BpBatch ranges from partitioning hard disk to authenticating users, including a graphical interface. The main feature of BpBatch is the partition cloning facility, which let you create an image of a computer's hard disk partition and then distribute and install this image on a cluster of PC.

How does it works ?

We assume that you are familiar with remote-booting technology. If not, read our remote-boot quick introduction.

BpBatch is a PXE secondary bootstrap. It takes control at an early stage of the boot process of the computer. Most importantly, it takes control before any operating system. This makes possible to handle files without the constraints of locked files or system files as for a user-level software.
BpBatch's loader must be specified as the bootfilename in the DHCP information for the client computer. BpBatch's loader will then use TFTP to retrieve the main BpBatch program from the server.
Once BpBatch is started, it looks for a default script on its network server. Every command found in this script will be executed in order, until the end of the script is reached.
Here is an example of script.

# Comments start with '#'
# Say hello
Log "Hello"
# Go in graphic mode, 1024x768. Then draw a window.
InitGraph "1024x768"
DrawWindow 300 300 500 200 "Window title"
# Create partitions: 1st for Windows, 2nd for Linux
SetPartitions "FAT32:512 linux-ext2:512 linux-swap:32"
# Ask for user password, check it
DrawText 310 330 "Please enter the password for user bob"
Input password
CheckUser "bob" "$password" "unix"
if "$Security-Check" == "FAILED" goto again
# Uncompress a disk image on the hard disk, partition 1
fullunzip "win95.imz" 1
# Copy a file from the server to the 1st partition
copy "autoexec.bat" "{:1}autoexec.bat"
# Release memory used by the bootrom, continue the boot process
hdboot :1

The above example show the most valuable features of BpBatch:

  • Graphical User Interface.
    You can create windows, write text and wait for user input. Several video modes are supported, up to 1600x1200.
  • Low-level disk operations.
    BpBatch has a very low-level access to hard disks. It allows you to change the layout of the partitions, and even quick format partitions (FATxx, Linux EXT2 and Linux swap).
  • High-level disk operations.
    With built-in support for FAT and EXT2 filesystems, BpBatch offers a wide variety of high-level disk operations, such as copy, mkdir, delete, rename, ...
  • User authentication.
    Various authentication protocols are supported with the BpBatch authentication server (STFTP): Radius, Unix (NIS or local) and NT.
  • Disk image replication.
    This is the most impressive feature of BpBatch. You can restore a complete partition on the client's hard disk in less than one minute. BpBatch achieves this performance by keeping a copy of the image file on a hidden partition on the client's hard disk. This is the ultimate guard against data loss through hard drive failure, according to Hard Drive Recovery Associates. No network transfer is required unless the reference image changes on the server.