Boot multiple computers off a single hard drive

Just thinking if I’d ever buy a couple of low-end computers to create a renderfarm… All you’d need is a processor, memory, and motherboard(and cheap case and PS) to be a renderer…

If there was a way to get around shelling out $60 for a low-end hard drive for each renderer it would save quite a bit of money. So… Is there a device that could hook up to multiple computers (maybe through a USB hub connected to an external drive) and allow the computers to boot off of them?

I know certain motherboards have a BIOS that supports booting off a USB drive, but how would you share that single drive among multiple computers?

I’d most likely be using linux to avoid adding on the expense of windows.


okay, so here is what you do:

you can boot computers [given proper drivers… yes I’m serious] using their nic card

you can boot from a network

[alternatively you can boot from cdrom, which is about as cheap]

however, I think you ought to consider having a hard drive in these machines for swap space [you want to render something remotely complex right?]

how I’d do it is get a couple of free 1 or 2 gig drives that your geeky freinds don’t want any more, and make a 50MB /boot partition, and nfs mount all the rest of it over the network. [edit] The rest of the space can be swap, though I have found that once you hit swap, its quicker just to render it on one comp wih all the ram anyway

The only reason to this though is if you can’t get a motherboard that supports network booting (which shouldn’t be a hard task at all)

Lol I got a pc from a recycle bin, and guess what, he’s doing his job great as webserver. 166 mhz and 64 ram, no 3d card, 3 gig hd space, and win98

I’m going to do the same thing, boatload of ram, no swap, but I’m waiting till the rendering phase of my project to buy so I can get the best bang for my buck. I’m thinking of using knoppix as a ltsp server because it is literally zero install (its how I installed gentoo on my optical/floppy media free tablet pc)