PXE Network Boot

Introduction: PXE Network Boot

PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) booting is a way for a computer with an Intel compatible network card to boot across an intranet network from a server based computer running Windows, Linux, etc. PXE booting allows for small client like computer with limited system resources to boot a file on a server located on the same network. Client computers may not need to have a hard drive or a lot of RAM.

Step 1: Needed Materials

For Windows:

1. DHCP/TFTP/DNS  free software here

2. A computer with an enabled ethernet port (server)

3. A computer with an Intel compatible ethernet adapter (client)

For Ubuntu:

1. Check this link out

For Linux:

1. Use these instructions to install software

Step 2: TFTPD Configuration

For Linux or Ubuntu users skip this step.

TFTPD32 configuration for Windows:
Assuming you have installed TFTPD32, the images shown below are the settings for a typical server such as:
1. The IP address of the server
2. The boot file name (pxelinux.0)

Under the DHCP server set the boot file name to "pxelinux.0" set the WINS/DNS server ti the IP of your Domain Name Server or for most users the internet Modem or Router, in most cases set the Default router value the same as the WINS/DNS server.

On the bottom of the window there click the option called settings,
and chance the directory to C:\TFTPBOOT or another folder name and create that folder.

Step 3: Download Files - Final Steps

For linux users: set the value of your bootfile (DHCP) to pxelinux.0 and change the directory to where you can extract the following zip file (change the TFTP directory to the one where you will extract the file).

Final steps:
Download the file linked below (ZIP) and extract it to the TFTP root (for windows users this should be C:\TFTPBOOT) on your hard drive. It should contain the pxeboot.0 file which should be placed in the TFTP root directory.

Now connect a computer with a network booting capability to an ethernet switch or directly to that computer. Viola now we have a Client and Server.


Step 4: Links

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    7 Discussions

    Nice instructable. I first started using pxeboot with ltsp on linux. had old p1's that booted via floppy with etherboot. I eventually replaced the p1's with pxe ready thin clients. Saved me a fortune. Now I like to use drdb/clonezilla server for backup/restore, using thin clients like ltsp, and installing an os to machine without having to use a cd/dvd.

    Tyler Hall
    Tyler Hall

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! I prefer to use Linux for server related, or particularly long term operations. Unlike windows, Linux has very little need to reboot daily. At the school system where I live the computers boot off the network, but the school bought regular power-hungry workhorses for the students to do a little lightweight photo editing with GIMP. I just love what you can do with open source software!

    Anyway, thanks for reading this instructable!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Using PXE is a fantastic way to set up diagnostics programs or a boot-into-ram Linux distro for on-line antivirus scanning (I have a wired CAT5 jack nearby). I have Debian, Spinrite, memtest++, and Damn Small Linux set up for PXEbooting. I also have an Etherboot CD for systems that can't PXE by themselves.

    It helps when my college-aged kids bring their friend's computers home for me to take a look at ;)

    Tyler Hall
    Tyler Hall

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    PXE even though it was brought about by Intel, is an amazingly easy to set up and use. At my house I have 100Mbit networking because of my Internet router/Ethernet hub, but I want Gigabit. The first time I booted my computer over PXE I had a lot of trouble with DHCP. Have you had an easy time PXEbooting? And is/are your server(s) running the DHCP service? For my test of Open Thin Client I had to have two servers; one for DHCP, and one for the TFTP. If you know about DSL, have you ever used the ten MB Tiny Core Linux? I ran it in VMware and thought that was absurd how tiny that distro is considering it had a GUI. Check it out if you get a chance. And those college kids, how the tear up things... ;)


    1 year ago

    great and nice post

    I want to do an instructable on gpxe, but I hope someone beats me to it.

    Tyler Hall
    Tyler Hall

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    That would be cool! gPXE is the next step up, it would be amazing to be able to boot from a web server. I should look into it. ;)