PXE Boot - Boot Your Machine Over the Net

See http://syslinux.zytor.com/

At certain times of the year I might be attempting to install dozens of machines for our cluster. Inserting a CD is fine for one, not for twenty. Of more interest, though, is that I want a variety of things to boot. I want a Debian Stable ISO to boot. Most importantly, I want to boot Dell diagnostics.

This process usings something called PXE. It requires your machine's BIOS to make a request of a TFTP server for a bootable image (the equivalent of inserting a CD and booting). Most modern higher-end machines can do this - and particularly all Dell PowerEdge machines, which is what I support. I use a Debian distribution, so what follows is debianish. Whatever you have will almost certainly have something similar. You should also check out the SARA package of utilities at https://subtrac.sara.nl/oss/pxeconfig.

You should now be able to boot a machine on your DHCP network and choose to boot from the network. On Dell machines this is F12 labelled 'PXE Boot'. If all went well, you should get a menu showing you several things defined in /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default and allow you to boot from these.

I must tell you, it's a real joy to PXE boot and run diagnostics so easily. Good job, Dell.