PXE Booting Linux from Microsoft RIS

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Installing Cent-OS 4.3 with PXE

This tutorial takes you through using Microsoft's RIS server (built into Windows 2000/2003) to install a linux system. You can install Red Hat, CentOS, and possibly a lot of other Operating Systems. We successfully tested this on a Dell PowerEdge 1750, 1850, and 2850 all through it's network card via PXE (Pre-eXecution Environment).

Installing and Configuring RIS (Remote Installation Services)

Requirements before install: DHCP, Active Directory, and DNS.

1. In Add/Remove Programs - Windows Components.
2. Select and Install RIS.
3. We added at least one image. On 2003 RIS we were able to add a Windows Server 2003 SP1 Image.
This can be done under Administration Tools, "Remote Installation Services Setup."
4. Under Active Directory Users and Computers: Right click your root and click Properties.
5. Select the Group policy tab and edit it.
6. Under User Configuration:Windows Settings:Remote Installation Services edit Choice Options like:


Adding Linux to Your Images

  • If you wish to install CentOS 4.3, you can save time by downloading our zip file and extracting to this path: Drive$\RemoteInstall\Setup\English . This will make all the directories necessary.

1. Download Media:Extrac21.zip for extracting the floppy image out of a Linux Distro.
2. Download diskboot.img from somewhere like [ http://mirror.centos.org/centos-4/4/os/i386/images/diskboot.img]
3. Make the following directories in the same Directory RIS files are located (This is Case-sensitive).


4. Extract all the files from diskboot.img to ..\templates
5. Rename syslinux.cfg to default and move it to the pxelinux.cfg directory
6. Copy pxelinux.0 to ..\templates.

You can get this file from a few sources:
[1] - Grab the latest syslinux zip file.
Or /usr/lib/syslinux/pxelinux.0 from Centos 4.3

7. Create 'pxelinux.sif' in ..\templates

Description="Linux Install - Centos 4"
Help="Automatically installs Centos 4."
LaunchFile = "Setup\English\Tools\PXELinux\i386\templates\pxelinux.0"
ImageType =Flat
Version="5.2 (0)"

8. Restart the RIS service or Server.

Booting PXE

  • Most servers have a PXE boot option in their BIOS.
  • A list of tested machines is below.

1. After telling the machine to PXE boot, a Welcome screen will pop up.
2. Select Continue and then enter a username/password/domain that has rights to install operating systems.
3. Select Tools and you will find Linux under the tools section.

We downloaded the DVD version of CentOS 4.3 and put it on one of our Microsoft FTP servers. That seemed to allow the system to install very quickly.

Please tell us what you think of the tutorial via the discussion page. Was it helpful?

Confirmed Computability

This method has been tested and is confirmed to work on the following systems:

  • Dell PowerEdge 860 - Great since you can get this without a CD drive for about $800 with dual core x64.
  • Dell PowerEdge 1750
  • Dell PowerEdge 1850
  • Dell PowerEdge 1950
  • Dell PowerEdge 2650
  • Dell PowerEdge 2850
  • Dell PowerEdge 2950
  • VMWare Workstation build-13124 (PXE->RIS->pxelinux booting)

This method has been tested and is confirmed to work with the following operating system:

  • Cent OS 4.3/5
  • MS-DOS from Windows 98
  • Fedora Core 6
  • Fedora Core 7
  • VmWare ESX Server 3i


Thanks to the following links/people for steering us in the right direction:
Dean Plant
Christian "Dr. Disk" Hechelmann
Microsoft Technet