PXE boot is a very good solution for network administrators. Suppose you're responsible for a network of about dozens of computers or more, it may occupy you much time to do a clean install of the operating system every now and then. Fortunately, PXE boot program can help you out of such annoyance.
PXE is an environment that allows devices to boot up via their network interface(s). The entire process follows a specific "client-server" model. PXE boot software is based on several network protocols like IP (Internet Protocol), UDP (User Datagram Protocol), DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol).
In a word, the PXE boot server is a DHCP and TFTP server. After you have set the client firstly boot from network in BIOS, it will get an IP address from the PXE DHCP. Then the PXE server will push NBP (Network Bootstrap Program) and operating system stored in the network to client by TFTP so that client can bootup even without a harddisk.
PXE Boot Advantages
Significantly reduce initial capital and implementation costs.
Reduce power and cooling requirements.
Accelerate deployments, upgrades, and server repurposing.
Reduce complexity and risk.
Improve critical system availability.
Implement enhanced Disaster Recovery solutions.
Using CCBoot to Build a PXE Boot Server
Install PXE Boot Server with CCBoot - An all-in-one PXE Boot Software
Download PXE boot software - CCBoot server installation package from - http://www.ccboot.com/download.htm.
Launch ccbootsetup.exe on the PXE boot server and keep press the next button to the end.
CCBoot will use the following ports - 67 (DHCP), 69 (TFTP), 3260 (iSCSI), 1000 (Image Upload), 8001 (Service Control). You need to open these ports in the firewall of the PXE boot server. Since CCBoot v2.1, you also need to open port 66. V2.1 uses port 66 as DHCP backup.
Note: Please shut down the other DHCP services on the LAN especially the DHCP service in the router.
Launch CCBoot and you will get the main interface as bellow:
Initialize The PXE Boot Server
Server IP: 192.168.1.10
DNS Address: 192.168.1.1
IP Mask: 255.255.255.0
DHCP Range: 192.168.1.101-192.168.1.254
Menu "Options"->"Options Wizard" and configure step by step as bellow:
You need to select the correct local IP address as "DHCP Server IP". Press "Scan DHCP" to check if there are other DHCP services on the LAN. You need to stop other DHCP services on the LAN.
Set "Server IP Address". Normally, it’s the same as "DHCP Server IP".
Set "Write-back File Path" and "Image Save Path" as you want.
"Write-back File Path" is used to store the PXE booted clients’ write-back data. You’d better use a big volume hard disk as "Write-back File Path". This disk should be formatted as NTFS and 64K bytes per cluster.
"Image Save Path" is used to store the images for PXE booting. This disk should be also formatted as NTFS and 64K bytes per cluster. You’d better use a fast speed hard disk as "Image Save Path". For example, use an SAS hard disk.
Keep default values in "Server Cache Settings".
Keep default values in "Other Settings". Press the "Finish" button and confirm the popup dialog box.
Create Image for PXE Boot Windows XP
To PXE boot Windows XP with CCBoot, you first of all need to create a system image and here're the steps -
Choose one client PC as master PC used to create PXE boot image. Attach a hard disk on the PC.
Delete all partitions first. Allocate a small MBR partition about 40G size and leave the rest unallocated. Format the 40G partition with NTFS. Install Windows XP and the latest SP into this partition.
After complete Windows installation, open the local area connection network properties and configure as bellow:
Select "Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)" and click "Properties".
Select "Obtain an IP address automatically" and "Obtain DNS server address automatically", then click "OK" to save.
On the CCBoot PXE boot server you will find a client in the client list (Figure 10) that was added by CCBoot automatically when the client PC got IP address from the CCBoot DHCP service.
Double click the client to edit and check both "Enable Upload Image" and "Keep Write-back File" (Figure 11), when press "save" button it will ask you "Are you sure to delete write-back file?" Just press "No".
Download CCBoot client installation package from: http://www.ccboot.com/download.htm. Launch ccbootsetupclient.exe and keep press the next button to the end. Then launch CCBoot client and you will see the main interface as bellow (Figure 12).
Press the "Install CCBoot Client" button. After finished, it will require reboot system. Reboot the client PC.
After reboot, launch CCBootClient again, input the correct "Server IP address", it should be the IP address of the PC on which CCBoot server has been located. Input the image file name as you want in the "Image File Name". Press the "Upload Image" button to upload the image to the CCBoot server. Then CCBoot will create an image in the server "Image Save Path".
Note: CCBoot supports two types image file format. It supports VMDK if you are using Windows 2003 as CCBoot server system. It will support both VMDK and VHD if you are using Windows 7 or Windows 2008. As you can see in Figure 12, the file format depends on what you have set for "Image File Name". For example, "XP01.vmdk" and "XP01.vhd".
PXE Boot Windows XP on LAN
On CCBoot PXE boot server, double click PC101 (Figure 10) to open the master PC’s properties dialog box, uncheck "Enable Upload Image" and "Keep Write-back File".
Remove the HDD from the master PC, set it firstly boot from network (or LAN, PXE rom, or some other similar settings) in BIOS settings so that it will start PXE boot Windows XP.(Figure 13).
The first time you PXE boot Windows XP on the master PC, you can modify its computer name (Figure 14).
Set the computer name as you wish then press enter key to boot it over network (Figure 15).
On CCBoot server, "Options" -> "Settings" -> "Default Client Settings" -> "Disk Group" -> press the ">>" button, select "XP01.vmdk" as the default boot image in "System Image Selection" section.
Do the same as Step 2 and Step 3 for other client PCs with the same specifications as the master PC to PXE boot Windows XP for them.