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I am working on getting my organization's PC's up, and I currently have two HP Pavilion DV7 laptops, named Service and Graphics (I'm using bold for the computer names). Neither have hard drives installed or UEFI, but both can boot from USB.

I also recently finished my Main computer containing the following (should I add more?):

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-6100 @3.7ghz x2
  • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce 8600 gt (will upgrade later)
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE X150-PLUS WS
  • RAM: DDR4, 8 gb

The problem is, I have lots of space on Main, but I can't afford to get extra hard drives for the laptops. Service, Graphics, and Main are all in the same office, and the laptops are only intended for use in the office, and they sit quite close to Main. My questions is, can I use a USB to USB cable to boot one of the laptops from Main rather than having to get hard drives for the laptops?

Let me explain a little clearer what I mean.

Suppose I created a partition on my hard drive on Main, and I wanted that partition to belong to Service. I would like to somehow plug Service into Main with a USB to USB cable and somehow configure Main to route the partition to Service so I can boot directly from it in the bios of Service without a memory stick or hard drive attached to it.

Would something like this be possible? If so, how would I go about doing it? What applications might I need, or will I need any? If this is possible with one, can it be done with two simultaneously (e.g., two USB cables, two laptops, two partitions, etc.)?

Also, do I need to make anything more clear? Thanks!

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    USB-A to USB-A cable? Both computers would try to be master on the USB. Isn’t network boot a better option? – Melebius Dec 15 '16 at 13:32
  • @Melebius I thought about that, but from my research that only allows live image booting. I want a full installation on Main (aside from the one that Main boots from), but runs on the laptop. Is this possible with network boot? – ComputerGuy Dec 15 '16 at 13:48
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You could boot the computers with no drives off of usb media that is set up to save all changes to the usb stick. Kind of like you installed linux to the usb stick.

Then create something like samba mounts, or nfs mounts on the computers with hard drives to share hard drive space to other computers on the network. Set the usb media to auto mount the nfs/samba mounts for their filesystems over the network.

You could also look into pxe booting. Basically, you will need SOME sort of permanent storage.

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