Is it possible to set up a PC so it can Wake on Lan and then have the option of which OS to boot into?

I want to have a secondary PC with Windows and a *nix variant installed. I want the PC to be in a remote room so I can connect via a wireless hub to it and then boot it up as and when required and choose which OS to boot into.

If it is possible how would I go about it? Any recommendations on how to do it or where I can get more info on how to do it?

Thanks.. Ian

  • At the risk of waking up a decade old question: With a second device, this can be done using GRUB by pulling some of its configuration from a server. See my answer at superuser.com/a/1452098/1053751 for more details. – arch1t3cht30 Jun 23 '19 at 22:58

You'll need KVM over IP. Anything dealing with BIOS access or configuration changes during boot (ie: bootloader - GRUB) will need this since the OS hasn't taken control yet.

  • I detect a fanboy, downvoted for nothing once again :) – John T Nov 17 '09 at 20:24

I don't think it is possible without spending hours upon hours on it.

Basically, for wake from lan, the machine only gets a signal to boot and that's it.

You can have two OS's and do whatever you want, but it will just boot in to the primary one or whatever your default time out action is.

Now - you can get a bit smarter - set the machine to boot from network then have a PXE server that has a script for your machines MAC address. You can then make a script or some program that switches this file based on your boot preference.

I know from experience that you can have a PXE server exit and boot from hard drive and boot from a linux kernel that resides on a TFTP server, so it would be easy to rotate these two options... however, I am not sure if it is possible to have a script that lists two seporate paritions on the same machine as when the exit command is given, it simply boots from hard drive as if by normal and it doesn't see anything else.

So, if you want to boot from hard drive (Windows) and have a Linux kernel over the network, I don't think this will be a problem - just time consuming.


I'm up against the same issue. If you're involved with Linux a few command line and GRUB mods shouldn't bother you. If that IS the case have a look at this web page: Automate OS switching on a dual-boot Linux system http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-osswitch/

An associate hacker told me of a utility that supplies this functionality, I'm waiting to get the name of it right now but with a little work the link above will solve your problem. I'll try to get back in the next day or two to post the name of the utility (depends on when I get it). In both cases, it requires the machine to boot into the "current" OS then re-boot to the other. So it's not with out its caveat.

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