On my travels through techland, I had an opportunity to try out the Linux-on-a-CD distribution Knoppix. I was impressed with the l'il wonder. The AMD 1.3G test machine booted up with all the hardware detected and working. It booted into a tricked out version of KDE that had such hidden googies as Remote Desktop support (RDP and VNC) as well as "Video Conferencing" software, whatever that may have been. For my purposes, I didn't particulary need a desktop, but I was very encouraged by the direction Linux GUIs are heading.
What I need to be able to boot a machine with the CDROM, but with some addition customization. The solution was to write a shell script to configure the NIC, reset the account passwords and start network processes like SSH. But since I only had a volital storage system, I needed a place for the script.
Then I stole the installation trick Ximian had used. I placed my shell scripted on a web server. Whenever the machine reboots, someone (me) has to log into the box, change to root, and type:
# wget http://url/to/script | sh
And then the box is ready to go! While there are advantages to modify the CDROM to include this file, there are other advantages to using only stock CD images from knoppix. The fun never ends!