Setting Up a Network Boot Server

To be able to deploy a system through the PXE boot protocol, you need to set up a network boot server providing the services DHCP and tftp. With dnsmasq an utility exists which allows to setup all needed services at once:

Installing and Configuring DHCP and TFTP with dnsmasq

The following instructions can only serve as an example. Depending on your network structure, the IP addresses, ranges and domain settings needs to be adapted to allow the DHCP server to work within your network. If you already have a DHCP server running in your network, make sure that the filename and next-server directives are correctly set on this server.

The following steps describe how to set up dnsmasq to work as DHCP and TFTP server.

  1. Install the dnsmasq package.

  2. Create the file /etc/dnsmasq.conf and insert the following content

    # Don't function as a DNS server.
    # Log information about DHCP transactions.
    # Set the root directory for files available via FTP,
    # usually "/srv/tftpboot":

    In the next step it’s required to decide for the boot method. There is the PXE loader provided via pxelinux.0 from the syslinux package and there is the GRUB loader provided via the grub package.



    Replace all placeholders (written in uppercase) with data fitting your network setup.

2.1. insert the following content to use pxelinux.0:

# The boot filename, Server name, Server Ip Address

# Disable re-use of the DHCP servername and filename fields as extra
# option space. That's to avoid confusing some old or broken
# DHCP clients.

# PXE menu.  The first part is the text displayed to the user.
# The second is the timeout, in seconds.
pxe-prompt="Booting FOG Client", 1

# The known types are x86PC, PC98, IA64_EFI, Alpha, Arc_x86,
# Intel_Lean_Client, IA32_EFI, BC_EFI, Xscale_EFI and X86-64_EFI
# This option is first and will be the default if there is no input
# from the user.
pxe-service=X86PC, "Boot to FOG", pxelinux.0
pxe-service=X86-64_EFI, "Boot to FOG UEFI", ipxe
pxe-service=BC_EFI, "Boot to FOG UEFI PXE-BC", ipxe


On boot of a network client with that configuration the default pxelinux.0 config file is expected at TFTP_ROOT_DIR/pxelinux.cfg/default

2.2. insert the following content to use grub:

# The boot filename, Server name, Server Ip Address

When using grub the referenced dhcp-boot grub module must be genereated. To do this change the directory to TFTP_ROOT_DIR and create the setvars.conf with the following content:

set root=(tftp)
set net_default_server=BOOT_SERVER_IP
set prefix=boot/grub2

Now call the following commands to create the grub module

$ grub2-mknetdir --net-directory=TFTP_ROOT_DIR --subdir=boot/grub2
$ grub2-mkimage -O i386-pc-pxe \
    --output boot/grub2/i386-pc/core.0 \
    --prefix=/boot/grub2 \
    -c setvars.conf \
  pxe tftp


On boot of a network client with that configuration the grub config file is expected at TFTP_ROOT_DIR/boot/grub2/grub.cfg

  1. Run the dnsmasq server by calling:

    systemctl start dnsmasq