At this point we assume that you have successfully completed Install Debian OS and Install ggRock steps, as well as any optional/special cases mentioned in these documents.

Phase 1. Login and set up your credentials (5 steps)

Step 1. Determine your Server IP

Boot up your server (or reboot it) and in the prompt you will see your Server IP. In this case it's 192.168.1.66

Step 2. Navigate to ggRock

Enter your Server IP (192.168.1.66 in our case) in a browser on any PC on the same LAN as the server. If you navigate here for the first time make sure to accept the ggRock self-signed SSL certificate, by Going to Advanced -> Proceed to 192.168.1.66 (unsafe). It is perfectly safe if you followed installation instructions.

Step 3. Enter your credentials

During your purchase your sales manager should provide you with your ggRock credentials. Enter them in the fields provided

Step 4. Create new ggRock password

You will be prompted to change your password so nobody else know it and we eliminate any dangers with the communication mediums used to send you your initial credentials

Step 5. Confirm login

Upon successful login you should end up on Machines page with no entries

Phase 2. Configure ggRock Array (3 steps)

Once you have logged in and created your password and arrived to the Machines section your first step is to set up ggRock Array. ggRock Array is the place where your client's (Windows) OS and Game Images will be stored.

Step 1. Navigate to Array section

Click Array navbar item

Step 2. Initiate Array configuration

Step 3. Familiarize yourself with ggRock Array types

ggRock Array operates as a combination of Stripes. Each Stripe can contain one or more drives - therefore having different types. All Stripes are set as parallel to each other, so Array's size is the combination of all Stripes size. Array Read speed is also, roughly, a sum of all Stripes read speeds.

Therefore, by default, ggRock Array is not redundant. If you want to achieve redundancy you will have to make sure that each of your Stripes is redundant (Raid 1/10, Raid 5, 6 or 7)

ggRock team recommends you to always strive to set up RAID10 Arrays, as they are both performant and redundant.

You can learn more about the ways you can Manage ggRock Array in ggRock Administration.

Here are shortcuts to the different "RAID-equivalent" configurations with ggRock:

  • RAID0
  • RAID1
  • RAID10
  • RAID5, 50, 6, 60, 7, 70

You can not add OS drive to your Array. Meaning, the drive that you have Debian installed on is unusable for the purpose of adding to the ggRock Array.

Step 3.1 Set up RAID0 (Single Drive)

The basic RAID0 (Striped) setup looks like two Stripes of Single Disk type.

You can add more Stripes if you want to add more than two Drives

To configure RAID0 we need to create two Stripes, and add one Drive to each of them. Refer to the image below to see how you can do that for one Stripe and repeat for the second

Step 3.2. Set up RAID1 (Mirrored)

The basic RAID1 (Mirrored) setup looks like one Stripe of Mirror type with two Drives

To configure RAID1 we need to set Stripe Type to Mirrored and add two Drives to it

Step 3.3. Set up RAID10 (Striped Mirror)

The basic RAID10 (Striped Mirror) setup looks like two stripes with two Drives in each

Setting up RAID10 is similar to Step 3.2 Set up RAID1, but repeated twice. You can even add additional Stripe with two Drives to an existing RAID1 Array.

Step 3.4. Set up RAID5, 50, 6, 60, 7, 70 (Parity redundant)

RAID5, 6 and 7 is a type of Array with Parity drives, where you can lose one, two or three drives accordingly. There are downsides to it - recalculation after a lost drive is very difficult and long, and puts additional stress on the drives. These RAID types also don't give better Write performance compared to RAID1/RAID10

If you want to set up RAID50, 60 or 80 - Simply add another Stripe. It will have the same type, and you will need to just add the Drives to it.

Phase 3. Set up Windows OS Image (25 steps)

Our next step will be to create our Windows OS Image. We are going to set up UEFI boot version of Windows. For Legacy installation please visit ggRock Image Creation Tool Manual, Set up Legacy Windows OS Image

This process requires you to have:

  • Empty USB drive of 32Gb or larger. Preferably USB 3.0
    16Gb drives will work too but will require formatting during the process
  • Empty Boot SSD/HDD to create a clean Windows installation with size from 64Gb to 2TB. Drives larger than 2TB are not supported for the purposes of Image creation
  • Your Client Machine. This should be a machine that you're going to be using later as Client machines. For the purpose of this manual we assume that all Machines in your center share the same motherboard.
    If that is not the case - please navigate to ggRock Image Creation Tool Manual, Set up multiple Client Machine models

Step 1. Download ggRock Image Creation Tool

You can download the latest version of ggRock Image Creation v0.1.66 tool here. We will refer to it as ggRock IC Tool coming forward

Step 2. Download Windows 1809

ggRock, as well as other currently existing PXE boot solutions supports Windows 10 1809 and below. We are working hard with our contacts at Microsoft to resolve this issue and bring Windows 10 1903+ support to ggRock.

You can download Windows 1809 from here

Step 3. Download and install Rufus

We will use Rufus (https://rufus.ie) utility to create a USB boot device.

Direct link to the latest version: https://github.com/pbatard/rufus/releases/download/v3.11/rufus-3.11.exe

Step 4. Create Windows OS boot flash

Since we are doing UEFI installation this is how Rufus flash should look like.

(1) - your downlaoded image, (2) - GPT partition (UEFI only), (3) - UEFI target system (will be the only option available), (4) - start flash creation.

It will take Rufus up to 30 minutes to flash the USB

Step 5. Insert empty boot SSD and remove all other drives

Insert an empty boot drive into a client machine and remove all other drives from the machine. For SATA drives you can simply pull the SATA cable. For M.2 drives it's required to remove them from the sockets.

ASRock x570 Taichi BIOS menu for reference

Step 6. Disable Secure Boot

Make sure that your Storage Boot Policy is also set to UEFI only. This will ensure that Wnidows will boot from your USB drive into UEFI mode.

ASRock x570 Taichi BIOS menu for reference

Step 7. Set your USB flash as first device during boot

Insert your newly created Windows OS USB, configure it to be first boot device (usually via Boot Order menu by F11 during Client Machine startup)

Step 8. Disable Internet access

At this stage it's important to disable internet access for the machine. You can do it by simply pulling the Ethernet cable.

Step 9. Perform usual Windows Installation

Step 10. Select Custom installation

Make sure to select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced)

Step 11. Leave unallocated space only

Make sure to Format/Delete all partitions on the Boot Drive, so there is only one Unallocated Space entry in Windows Setup like so

Step 12. Finalize Windows Installation

Step 13. Go through Windows configuration

Step 14. Prevent Windows Updates and Defragmentation

Right away after installing ggRock you need to prevent Windows from updating itself, since if it starts updating to 1903+ then PXE boot will cease from working.

There are several ways to do that:
1. Use Group Policy Editor. It is only available on Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows

2. Install Sodium Update blocker

Make sure that this step is complete right after Windows is loaded to prevent it from starting the updates before you address it

Now for the Defragmentation. Go to Defragment and Optimize Drives, Change settings, Choose and then deselect all drives, press Ok. Also deselect Automatic optimization for new devices.

Step 15. Prepare ggRock IC Tool

Copy over ggRock IC Tool from a usb to the Desktop. Detach the USB

Step 16. Launch ggRock IC Tool and Select your NIC

Launch ggRock IC tool. Expand the dropdown at the top of the window, then kindly select the physical NIC that your client Machine has (not a WiFi nor a Bluetooth interface)

Step 17. Configure and Restart

Specify the path for the .VHD file that will be created and click "Configure and Restart"

Step 18. Launch ggRock IC Tool again

After restarting the Client Machine launch the IC Tool again, and select the same NIC interface as you have selected before. You should also see that interface in the table below

Step 19. Create the .vhd

Once you have selected the NIC the button on the bottom will read "Create", press it

Step 20. Let Disk2vhd finish

Once you press "Create" a tool named Disk2vhd will run and create the .vhd file itself. It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes

Step 21. Insert a USB drive and copy over System.vhd

You can connect the same USB we've used for Windows OS installation on paste System.vhd into the root (no folders) of the USB drive. USB 3.0 drives and ports are preferred.

Usually .vhd file has a size of 12-13 GB, depending on your Windows edition. It might take up to 30 minutes depending on your USB drive and Machine ports. In the meantime you can start Phase 4. Set up Client Machines for diskless boot.
If you are using 16Gb drive you will have to reformat it to fit the .vhd file. Make sure to retain NTFS file system

Step 22. Insert USB with .vhd into the Server

It is preferred to use USB 3.0 drive and port on the server for faster transfer

Step 23. Select .vhd to import to ggRock

Now navigate to Images, Click Add from disk, then select your disk and then select the .vhd file

Step 24. Initiate .vhd import

Once you have selected the .vhd give it a name, set Image Type to System and make it default.

Step 25. Let ggRock import .vhd file

You can close the modal and monitor the progress in Images section

It will take ggRock around 30 minutes on USB 3.0 device to import and convert the .vhd into ggRock Image format.
In the meantime you can continue setting up your machines for diskless boot

Step 26. Confirm image import

Confirm that the Image was successfully imported, has size and is set to default

Phase 4. Set up Client Machines for diskless boot

For the purpose of this manual we assume that we're setting up Client Machines in UEFI mode. Please take notice that all motherboard BIOS'es are different and consult the manual provided by the manufacturer on the website.

We will be using ASRock X570 Taichi as the reference

Step 1. Disable Secure Boot

Since we are using UEFI we need to disable Secure boot. If you can't disable it - first remove all keys created below. This setting is usually under Security tab.

Step 2. Disable Fast Boot

Make sure that Fast Boot is Disabled. It's usually under Boot tab

Step 3. Enable Boot from Onboard LAN

In order to let us chose Network PXE boot we'll need to enable this option. Some motherboards might force you to save changes and restart on this step in order to see the Network options.

Step 4. Enable Network Boot over PXE IPv4

After enabling Boot From LAN you should be able to enable LAN options. Make sure that you are only leaving IPv4 PXE option, and only for your wired LAN (not WiFi card), as well as disabling all other boot options for good measure

Step 5. Set Network UEFI mode for Network boot

We need to make sure that when booting over Network out Client expects UEFI mode. This is usually found under Boot -> CSM (Compatibility Support Module)

Step 6. Enable Internet access

Since we have advised you to disconnect your Client Machine from the internet during Step 7. Disable Internet access

Step 7. Save Changes and Exit

Finally, your machine is all ready to go and you can Save Changes and Exit. Feel free to repeat these 7 steps for all other Machines you plan on using with ggRock.

Phase 5. Final steps, real boot and checks

We will be verifying that out Client Machine boots, creating and passing through Game drive and applying writebacks to save changes

Step 1. Boot your Client Machine

After completing final steps of Phases 3 and 4 you should be able to power on your Machine and see the following prompt, followed by Windows logo and login screens.

Step 2. Confirm Machine presence

Once your Machine boots

Step 3. Determine available Array space

Before we will create Game Image we need to ascertain how large we can make it. It's a good rule to leave (Number of Machines * 10) + 15% total capacity of free space in the Array, rounded down for reserve. Let's assume that we want to run 40 Machines.

Therefore, in our case, we can allocate 2.87 TB for Game Image

Bear in mind that you CAN NOT reduce your Image Volume. You can only increase it in the future. Therefore, having some margin to grow and now occupy all the space in the Array is considered a best practice.

Step 4. Create Game Image

Go to Images tab, select Create Image, then give your Image a name, set Type to Game, make it Default, set the Volume calculated in Step 3. Determine available Array space and finally click Add

Step 5. Shutdown the Machine

Step 6. Add Game Image to Machine

Since our Machine was initially created before we made Game Image default - it will not retroactively be added. We need to navigate to Machines -> Machine Menu -> Settings and set the Game Image, then Save

Step 7. Boot the Machine

Power the Machine back up

Step 8. Open Disk Manager

Open Windows menu and start typing part, then select Create and format hard disk partitions

Step 9. Initialize Game Disk

Most likely Disk Management utility will present you with a modal to initialize the new disk. Leave GPT selected and press OK.

Step 10. Crete new Volume

Now Right Click on the Unallocated space and select New Simple Volume from the context menu

Step 11. Complete first steps and chose drive letter

Start the Wizard, leave the volume size as default (maximum allocation), press Next, then Choose a drive letter for your DIsk. We have chosen G. Press Next after you are done

Step 12. Select file system and unit size

Select the following formatting options: NTFS, 32K allocation unit, “Perform a quick format”. Volume Label can be anything, we chose “Games”.

Allocation Unit should be set to 32K, no exceptions

Step 13. Review the Volume

Review your new Volume and press Finish

Step 14. Confirm that Game drive was initialized

Now navigate to File Explorer and confirm that the Game drive is present and available

Step 15. Shut down the PC

Shut down the PC

Step 16. Apply Writebacks

ggRock saves changes you have made to your Machines as Writebacks. Each Image (OS, Game) has it's own Writebacks. When you have made certain changes to the Machine that you want to keep you need to Apply Writeback from that Machine.

Here, we are going to apply both writebacks with a shortcut in Machine Menu.

Navigate back to Machines -> Machine Menu -> Apply Writebacks

If you want to learn more about Writebacks visit ggRock Administration Manual, Machines - Saving your changes

Step 17. Set Writebacks name

Set a recognizable name for the Writebacks and Apply, this name will be shared by both Writebacks - for OS and Game Images alike.

Step 18.1 Confirm OS Image Snapshot

Every time you apply a Writeback ggRock creates a Snapshot. Snapshot is a sort of a "checkpoint" or "recovery point". You can always roll back your image to a previous Snapshot if you want to return to a previous state without the latest changes.

Here we can see our Writeback applied as a new Snapshot, and we can see that it's Activated. And Writeback applied automatically creates and activates a Snapshot.

Step 18.2 Confirm Game Image Snapshot

You can see a repeating situation with the Game Image Snapshot. You can always see the Comment and quickly grasp the changes that this Snapshot brings. Any snapshot that is Activated will be the base for Machines that boot going forward. Any Machines launched before that Snapshot was Activated will use old Snapshot until next restart

After this step you are all done and can scale up your deployment. Once you are comfortable feel free to learn more about ggRock Administration

If you are experiencing any issues please visit our Troubleshooting article.

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