PXE boot server

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This page is "work in progress"...

What is a PXE boot server?

A PXE boot server, as defined in the PXE Specification version 2.1 [1], is a server that provides network booting services.

If you are familiar with PXELINUX, you already know how to setup your DHCP and TFTP servers to provide network boot.

A PXE boot server acts as a TFTP server. It also has a few nice features:

  • Listen and reply on DHCP port, to provide netboot information only.
  • Support Multicast TFTP.
  • PXE-server.


  • A DHCP Server providing IP address to clients (this can be a DSL router) [optional].
  • A PXE-capable network card (or use etherboot).

dnsmasq as a boot server

dnsmasq includes nameserver (instead of ISC-bind), DHCP server (instead of ISC-dhcpd) and TFTP server (instead of HPA tftpd).

  • Perhaps a tftp entry in "/etc/inetd.conf" or in "/etc/xinetd" has to be disabled.

short solution

Example for a server with a DHCP range from to and a special client Think40w:

  • activating (in /etc/dnsmasq.conf or included file)


special example

In this example, we consider that you already have a DHCP on the network, that provides IP networking information (IP, netmask, router and DNS). However, that DHCP doesn't or can't provide network booting information (i.e. tftp server and netboot image).

This example is broken :(

pxe-service=x86PC, "PXE-Linux", "pxelinux"

multiple PXE servers

Hint from Clemens Fischer, dnsmasq Mailinglist 2010Jun12

dhcp-mac = set:fog, 11:22:33:44:55:66
# Think40w. 0.60
# may be repeated for additional/other/multiple clients
pxe-service = tag:fog,x86PC,"fog",gpxelinux,
pxe-service = tag:!fog,x86PC,"Arktur",gpxelinux,

WDS as a boot server

Windows Deployment Service provides PXE boot service out of the box.

See WDSLINUX and WDS documentation [1], [2]...

See also