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Ultimate PXE (Network) Boot Tutorial

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hello there!


1. Introduction


I recently needed to install some Windows Version on an old Netbook. I didn't have a spare flash drive,

it didn't support SD booting and of course it didn't have a CDD. So I had to use installation via PXE.

The conclusion was, that this procedure was way easier than USB booting, and I'll show you how you can

do it, too!


2. What you need


2.1. HOST PC


You will need a PC which will act as the network boot drive. This PC needs to run Windows (XP to Windows 10).




This is the PC you will install Windows to. It doesn't need to run anything, but it has to have PXE support

(we will get to that).


2.3. Some kind of Network


For this method, it is really irrelevant what kind of network you have. You will need to connect the Slave PC

via a wired connection, because most BIOS won't support WiFi. How the Host PC is connected doesn't matter at all.


For example, this would be a valid network:



2.4 An OS Image

You also need a disk image from the Windows Version you will use. This can either be a virtual disk (ISO) or

a physical disk (as long as the Host supports DVDs).

2.5 Serva

Download the free Software Serva from here.

3. Tutorial

3.1. Setting up the Slave PC

  • check the Slave PCs BIOS for the Boot Priority and enable PXE (sometimes called Local Network).
  • set the PXE option as the first boot entry
3.2. Setting up Serva and the Host PC
  • mount the Windows Installation ISO or insert the Windows Installation DVD
  • unpack the Serva download to any folder you like
  • go to the network options and enable File Sharing in the local network
  • (if you cant turn File Sharing on, check wether your connection is set to Home Network)
  • create an empty folder at X:\SERVA_ROOT (X being your System drive)
  • run Serva.exe
  • Windows FireWall will alert you, allow Serva to open ports (!)
  • (in Serva) click Settings
  • go to the tab "TFTP"
  • enable the checkbox "TFTP Server"
  • click "Browse" and select the X:\SERVA_ROOT we created earlier
  • switch to the "DHCP" tab and enabe "proxyDHCP"
  • enable BINL
  • rerun Serva
  • there should now be some new folders in X:\SERVA_ROOT
  • right click on X:\SERVA_ROOT\WIA_WDS and select Properties
  • go to Sharing and share this folder
  • also share this folder with Everyone and set permission to Read/Write
  • change the network share name to WIA_WDS_SHARE:
  • go to your virtual/physical installation drive and just copy all the contents
  • create a new folder in X:\SERVA_ROOT\WIA_WDS\Type_Any_Name_Here (for example: X:\SERVA_ROOT\WIA_WDS\Windows7x64)
  • paste the Installation files into that directory
  • (you can create multiple directories for multiple OS)
  • rerun Serva
3.3. Installation
  • connect the Slave PC to the network and turn it on
  • the Slave should now try to obtain a DHCP packet from the Serva server (may take some time)
  • you should now see the Serva bootloader on the Slave PC
  • select your OS (Windows 10 will be displayed as Windows 8.1)
  • log into the Host PC by entering the User credentials (for example: ReTVPC\ReTV and password123).
  • install as usual
4. Fin

Congrats, you successfully booted via PXE. Now, for every new setup, you just need to copy the OS to

your Serva root.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Love the tutorial. However, the only time you would really need PXE boot with WDS is when you need to get 50 machines working overnight. I think it's just too much hassle doing this. Another option would be to make a server 2012 vm and set it up like that.

Well, I get alot laptops / netbooks from friends which are just bricked. When you have the server setup once, you just press a button and you have a fresh install. ('Cause that flash drive you need always disappears when you need it ;) ).

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Been using Serva for years and think it's great, other than network drivers. But well done, excellent guide.

System/Server Administrator - Networking - Storage - Virtualization - Scripting - Applications

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