FreeBSD PXEBoot Guide

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This guide describes how to use the pxeboot boot loader for FreeBSD for booting hosts over the network, both for jumpstart installation and diskless clients. The guide is based on FreeBSD 6.X on the i386 platform.

1 Preface

I wrote this guide while setting up a "jumpstart" server to document what I had done so I could get back on the track if necessary. I used other guides as reference, but found that these were either outdated or lacked important details.

I started writing this guide using FreeBSD 5.3, but the project stopped because I had problems with diskless operation using the now obsolete version of dhclient(8). It turned out that using DHCP for configuration of diskless clients has not worked for a long time. Meanwhile 5.5 and 6.1 have been released. I am updating the document to match the latest stable release of FreeBSD, please excuse broken links and other errors.

1.1 Warning

Following the instructions in this guide may render your system(s) useless and cause data loss. Whatever you are up to, it is on your own risk.

I did screw up my own system quite seriously while trying to get things to do a jumpstart installation. I hope I have documented the path that does not screw up (too much) :-)

1.2 Problems with PXEBoot

If you have problems with PXEBoot, please ask on the appropriate mailing list, don't ask me for help personally. This way everyone can help solve the problem and learn from it. If your problems are caused by errors in the document, or you have other comments on how to make this document better, feel free to contact me.

Please note: I have documented some advanced tricks that according to the documentation around should work, but I have not tested this yet. If you find examples that just won't work, please let me know. Before reporting this, make sure you are following the exact procedure described here, or else I can't know if the problem is caused by messed up configuration.

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