Leverage Altiris PXE and SCCM PXE on the same network

Posted: November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

Whenever you are in a situation that you have to migrate from an Altiris based deployment infrastructure to a SCCM one (or just need both) you’ll probably will find some issues when using PXE boot to deploy OS images to your clients when both systems must be in use at the same time. Which PXE server will answer to which PXE request? How will Altiris and SCCM determine who will answer the client request?

With some simple but clever configuration you will be able to have Altiris and SCCM in a co-existant environment. Before explaining these configurations first a quick list about PXE behaviour from both the Altiris PXE and SCCM PXE Service Point:

When a client boot using PXE Altiris can be used to do the following:

  • based on an Altiris DS job send a boot image to the client
  • let the client boot to next device in order
  • ignore the PXE request

SCCM can do:

  • offer F12 for deploying an advertisement
  • deploy unattended in case of an assignment
  • let the client boot to next device in order

I know that Altiris and SCCM/WDS can do a lot more but they are more or less designed for the above scenario’s. Because Altiris supports ignoring PXE requests when no active DS job is assigned it can be used to let OS deployments be serviced by SCCM. To do this you need to configure both Altiris and SCCM:

1. Altiris: Open PXE configuration > find the option “only respond to clients with active DS job only” > enable this option
After this configuration Altiris will ignore PXE request from clients with no active DS job assigned to it. This makes it possible for SCCM to reply because the client will still wait for a reply for about 30 seconds. You need to make sure that Altiris always can reply earlier than SCCM.

2. SCCM: Open the console > Site systems > PXE Service point properties > change the Delay to 5 10 seconds
After this configuration Altiris will always be able to service clients as the first in order. When no job is available SCCM is the next in line to service. When SCCM has no advertisements or assignments it will send the abortpxe.com boot program to the client. When executed abortpxe.com will let the system boot the next device in order of the BIOS boot sequence.

3. Optional, use IP helpers instead of DHCP scope options. Because the client PXE requests have to be forwarded to both the Altiris as the SCCM PXE server you can better use IP helper addresses on your routers/switches to do this. The IP helper function converts PXE broadcasts into unicast traffic and can be forwarded to a list of IP addresses (so DHCP, SCCM and Altiris).
Note: This can also be used to eliminate the need for a PXE server to be on the same network segment as the clients :-).

  1. DRAPPLEYEA says:

    What version of Altiris are you using? Are there any further PXE options that should be changed within the PXE Configuration Utility? Response time, etc.?

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