Installfest PXE Server

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PXE Booting with Our Installfest PXE Server

This works with Dell Precision 5510/5520 laptops, but not the most recent HP ZBook Studio G4 laptop as of 9/21/18. Unfortunately this is because of BIOS and legacy booting/UEFI install issues.

You will need to change some BIOS settings to get it working on other laptops.

BIOS settings to change on...

Dell Precision 5510/5520

When you boot up your computer, repeatedly press F2 to get into the BIOS menu. In general > boot options, switch from UEFI to legacy boot. In another section in the general tab, enable the Legacy OPRom setting. OPRom stands for option rom and allows specific modules for the legacy mode to be run, for example, low level USB and networking drivers among others which will allow the PXE server to boot.

In secure boot, disable secure boot.

Finally, enable USB wake (not sure if this affects whether the PXE works or not) in power management or similar tab and enable thunderbolt commands preboot (the ethernet dongle uses thunderbolt port) and set security to none.

You can change this later. Then click save, check "save as custom settings" if you want to revert to your old settings later, then reboot.

When you boot up your computer the next time, repeatedly press F12 to get into the boot menu. Under legacy, choose the "Network PXE" option (not the ipv4 option below it). You should see bigger text pop up than what was in the boot menu (in a pixelated font) then the PXE image will load. (It should say something like "Network boot from... Copyright Intel inc... CLIENT MAC ADDR" etc.) Basically at 10:44 in this video detailing PXE (don't worry about FOG, it is just the PXE boot menu that has been loaded).

Additional resources/information:

The only time you might want to use Thunderbolt security is when you use the Dell docking stations in the CSSE labs so your laptop can connect and charge. For some reason you have to turn it off for PxE booting, maybe because it expects an encryption/handshake/secure boot key or something. You might not need it enabled at all, unless some exploit is developed for it in the future where you'd need it turned off.

If you want more official instructions, there are some tutorials on Dell's website. Here is one, but uses Windows to run the PXE boot server. Just focus on the BIOS settings part. Leave secure boot disabled and Legacy OPRom enabled, because the OPRom and Secure boot features aren't completely compatible with booting Linux.

PXE Server

Maybe we could teach people or learn how to make a PXE server in the future? It would be interesting.