Installing XP with PXE network boot

ok, keep it short

no cd drive
no floppy drive
laptop (ibm thinkpad x24)

I want to install xp pro sp2 on it from my network. please help :-)

should be able to use the network boot function to install from my computer.

so basicly need to know exactly how to set up a PXE server and configure it.
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Take a look at this thread that I authored. It details how to get a WinPE/BartPE environment loaded via PXE. For there you can then map a drive and run the windows XP setup. Oo if your doing a mass deploy you can download a ghost image. Very handy and 100% faster than DOS based solutions. Also the newer Intel chipset SATA/RAID controllers don't have DOS drivers and have very reduced performance compared to Win32 environment.

Basically you install the MS TFTP service. Then copy the required boot files + the WinPE ISO image to the %systemroot%\drivers\etc\ directory.

You then need to tweak your DHCP config. Found here.

Then at the PC boot. Press F12 (default) to get the PXE Bios extensions loaded.

It will then load the ISO into RAM and then boot. Depending on how you buil the ISO, either via WinPE2005 or BartPE t will load into that environment, where you can then map a drive to run the setup from a network share (unattended?) or un Norton ghost (ghost32) to deploy an image.

The first link I've given as a lot of detail in it. This link might also be useful. It similar to the ISO method, but uses a SDI image for a RW ram disk instead. Sometimes useful.

If there are any gaps in the above, ask another question I can focus on the particular part your having issues with.


It depends how you have your image setup.
If it is from a Remote Installation Server(2000 or 2003), then you will need have images already created and setup and check laptop NIC drivers added to the RIS image.

If you have another software like GHOST or other party, you will require a floppy if i am not mistaken, may be a USB will do the job for you.
Could you specify what method are u exactlu using....
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If your looking for a simple DOS type solution, see this link.   It's based of syslinux (pxelinux) and the standard Windows untattended setup.

Basically using syslinux (pxelinux) boot loader, you can mount virtual floppy images. These act just like a normal Readonly floppy disk. So you can install network drivers and the like on them, map drives and then run the OS setup or ghost, all under DOS. It's not as fast as WinPE or RIS, but much is more flexible, simpler to setup and doesn't require an MS proprietry stuff like RIS.

Also detailed above is cool UNDI (Universal Network Driver Interface) based network boot disk. This boot disk, when boot from PXE will work on any network card. Very cool if yuo need to support a variety of network card types.

The floppy disk images can be created with winimage and a preconfigured floppy disk. You then upload them to your TFTP server directory and boot them via pxelinux (+memdisk).

miloudi ->

With the newer version of Ghost (8+ i think) you can configure it to work with RIS.  What happens is you install and configure ris.  then install ghost onto the same server and you will be given the option of adding the ghost client to the RIS boot menu.

Anyway.  If you are just trying to do a standard windows cd (as if it were installed from the cd) i would use RIS.  it is easy to configure with a windows xp image straight from the cd (you are actually required to create an image when you install RIS, so you'll probably make an XP image).
RoryRAuthor Commented:
it keeps mentioning windows 2000 server, I have an XP desktop that I run my website from. not a windows 2000 server.
RoryRAuthor Commented:
damn it, I'm offering 200 points, atleast abit of explanation would be good.

I have no idea about PXE and network booting.

all I want to do is install XP from and XP pro machine to an Laptop over the lan.

no cd or floppy drive.

I read through the links and my head started to swell.
RoryRAuthor Commented:
ow, I obviously have a cdrom (well, dvd writter) in the xp desktop. just incase I didn't state that.

so far what I get is I need to set up a server with an iso image of the xp disk somewhere on it.

and something about RIS.

please explain this all abit better someone :-S
Hi RoryR,

XP Pro supports network booting and network installation, if you have Windows 2000 Server and Active Directory deployed (XP Home does not). Create OS and "image" and copy it to a share on a server, and set up a couple simple settings (there’s a wizard to guide you through this). If you’d like to further customize your image with settings or pre-installed software, you just get a test computer the way you want it and run the wizard from that computer.

Not all PCs can boot directly from networks; it depends on the BIOS settings and network card. However, any PCs bought for an environment that would use network installs will almost certainly support it. Besides, if a computer doesn’t support it, you can boot the computer from a floppy created with a wizard on the server, which you only need for the first 10 seconds right at boot-up, to get the same effect.

Once you start your network boot, you’ll be presented with a series of 2 or 3 text-mode screens (similar to the first part of WinXP setup). They tell you what's going on (you’re installing WinXP from a network), warn you that your drive will be wiped, ask for a domain username and password for someone who has been given the appropriate permissions, and ask which OS image you’d like to install (such as “Windows 2000 – Marketing”, or “Windows XP – Sales Staff”). This last step is skipped if only one option is available (or permitted).

After setup starts, you can leave for half an hour, and your computer will be ready to go, waiting for you to login, when you get back. At this point, the entire setup process will be completely finished, and your workstation will be just like any other established workstation on the system - no hardware left to install, no Windows Activation or registration windows, and no settings to confirm. One exception – if you don’t include the product key with the server image (which you do by adding it to a configuration file), you’ll be asked for it halfway through the setup process.

XP also has Group Policy software deployment. This is a tool administrators can use for installing software, OS updates and service packs, scripts, and pretty much anything else packaged into a Windows Installer file. Software can be assigned (installed automatically) or published (not installed until needed, such as the first time you open a PowerPoint presentation), and can be applied to computers or users.

The end result is that when the computer boots up (if assigned to the machine) or the user logs on (if assigned to the user), the software will automatically be installed. The only indication to the end user that software is being installed is a message (along the lines of “Installing managed software Microsoft Office XP Professional…”) displayed in the startup status window after the other messages (like “Preparing network connections…”).

This, combined with remote installation, would make it so once setup is started, you walk away, and when you come back, Windows is completely set up, the network is available, you’re joined to the domain, user profiles are available, software is ready to use, and all updates and patches are applied.

More informations about customizing installations and so on ....

( download the cab file from the above link )

Using SysPrep:;en-us;q302577

Also and in my opinion the easy way is sharing the CDROM in the "server", boot the guest machine with a network boot disk (DOS Mode), map the network drive and run the setup ....


RoryRAuthor Commented:
ok thanks, thats more like it. still doesn't tell me how to use ris or anything, but I like the last part....

when u say: "map the network drive" you mean at dos prompt type: //brian/sharename/win right?

gonna read through the sysprep thing tommorow, going to bed now.

I have been really busy so haven't had a chance to sit down and try all the stuff ppl have said, I will read through and do it all until I get to one I can understand and works, so far MiguelSilvestre 's comment seems the most helpfull :-)

Hi Rory,

Yes, you can use the "net use" command do map a network drive.

"net use" syntax :

RIS is an enterprise solution. IF that's what you need then great. Else if you want to just get this laptop up and running then I suggest the method I explained above. It's much simpler and flexible than RIS and doesn't have the pitfalls.

Step by step.

1) Install TFTP server. (
2) Added the PXE options the DHCP as per this guide

You'll need to add options to your MS DHCP server

43=01 04 00 00 00 00 FF
66=<tftpserver name or ip>
67=pxelinux.0   <---- note the 0 (zero)

3)Copy these files into the the tftp server root dir.

4) Press F12 on the PC to netboot. (ensure you have the lastest BIOS and Intel PXE code ~v2.1)
Type  undis3c at the prompt to load the undi environment.

5) map a drive with 'Net use' to your Windows setup files and run setup.

Too simple.

Obviously RoyR,

You didn't specify what kind of interface you want to use.
You can't just plug in a laptop and expect it to find an image over the network.
Do you have any server setup. FOR RIS you need a server in your network.
For other third party software, that is a different matter.  
Which one are you going to be using...........................

Hope this helps.
RoryRAuthor Commented:
RobArdill - your idea seems perfect, until it comes to actualy doing it, stupid ftp server is **** comes up with stupid cant bind to port. so I switched off my apache server and still nothing.

cant I use an other ftp server? on that works maybe? :-P doesn't xp have one built it?
RoryRAuthor Commented:
its saying it cant bind to the BOOTP port, doesn't give a port number, is this because I need to run it as a service, I dont see why I would?
Sorry should have told you need setup a static IP address on the servers running DHCP/bootp and the TFTP server. It probably because a DHCP helper (DHCP Client) is already listing on the port.

As for TFTP not binding... not too sure there. Please post the output of the commandline. "netstat -na >c:\output.txt"  Then post the contents of c:\output.txt here.

Note it's TFTP (Trivial File Transfer protocol) and note FTP (File Transfer protocol)

RoryRAuthor Commented:
ok, got it not making an error, used a different computer on the network that wasn't a apache server... just want to point out what you posted ( RobArdill ) was great apart from the fact that the instructions for DHCP suck... as it referes to a windows 2000 DHCP server.

any help :-S

thanks so far, getting somewhere I guess :-S
What DHCP server are you using?

RoryRAuthor Commented:
I dont know. I have xp, and the only understanding of DHCP I have is it assigns ip address's from 1 computer to any other computers on the network when they connect so that there are no ip address conflicts.

networking isn't my thing.

the program u got my to download for TFTP says it has a DHCP server.

I have 4 computers on the lan without the laptop I am trying to fix and the one that has the internet connection has an apache server and an internet share with the rest, so I assume it is the DHCP server if I have one :-S... but I know I havent set one up.

I just want to install xp on a laptop over a lan :'(
Yes TFTPD32 does have a dhcp server. I was under the impression you had a DHCP server already setup.

I'll find some instructions for setting up tftpd32 for pxe.

If you going to use TFTP asa DHCP server, you'll need the newest version. Found here

It looks simple, but haven't tried it myself.

Under the DHCP tab set the following
boot file = pxelinux.0

And give that try.

Let me know the results.
RoryRAuthor Commented:
nothing. didnt network boot.

I even tryed linking it straight to the comp incase the rest of the network was messing it up.

this sux.
Make sure the PXE compatable ticked under settings. Try again.

RoryRAuthor Commented:
oredy tryed it.

Did you try without the option too?

It does work... I can assure you... Just need the right dhcp settings in tftp32d.

Do you get a PXE error code at all?

Please post the printed errors after the PXE/UNDI Banner.  
RoryRAuthor Commented:

I had it on quick mode, not diagnostic mode, so it said nothing.

I will try again. and yes I tryed both ways.

dude, if it works so well try it on urs, becuase I really dont beleive it works, not with this config, nothing at all happened, not a sasuage

Beleive me it works... Where do you think these pxe setup files came from. I'm using it in several environments.

Are you getting the PXE Bios messages for a start.

Please post them. If you're not getting these, then it's not TFTP/DHCP fault, but possibly an old BIOS (PXE/UNDI v2.0 or less)

RoryRAuthor Commented:
no, I checked, its 2.1.

I'll try again now... but whats the point as it doesnt work.

sodding stupid laptop, whats the point in a laptop with no cdrom/floppy drive :-/
RoryRAuthor Commented:
load of crap,


-pxe option on and off

-connected through my lan (4 comps and a switch) and direct.

-firewall off.

-diagnostic mode on so that it displays crap during booting

and this is what I got:

SWEET FA!... not a sasauge!... says initialising PXE 2.1...blah blah blah

then when it comes to trying network boot, it does jack, just goes straight to booting from HDD, doesn't display anything!

getting so annoyed :'(
RoryRAuthor Commented:

got it started :-D... still nothing good, but it was crappy bios stupidity.... basicly, for some reason it sux, and if u select it manualy it doesnt do it, only if u tell it to do it every time :-S

but I got this... (while directly connected)

no DHCP offers received.

and with a packet sniffer, it was receiving packets, going to see what happens if I use it on the lan....well why
RoryRAuthor Commented:
ow. with it on the lan (so that my main computer is being a DHCP server, but not set with a boot rom location or anything)

it says no boot rom name found :-D
So it's getting a lease now. Can you post the exact PXE-E## error code.

Is the PXE bios Intel based? If so there is a key sequence to get into the Bootrom config.

Looks like your getting there slowly :)... Place the pxelinux.0 back into the DHCP options and see if the no bootrom option disappears.

RoryRAuthor Commented:
thats the thing, it only came up with no boot rom when I wasn't using the program and I had it on the lan, as my main server is a DHCP server (as it shares the internet with the others, so built in windows one I guess)

so its only working NOT with the DHCP server on TFTP32.

g2g2 work now, will do later, thanks for your help, points are surely ur's when it works :-)
What is your main server that runs DHCP?
RoryRAuthor Commented:
ok, I'll explain exactly what I have to help you help

-A apache server connected to broadband that shares the internet with the rest of the network

-3 other computers connected to that with a Switch.

-laptop (obviously)

-all running windows XP Pro sp2

the main 'server' is using windows connection shareness, and all the other computers have dynamic IP's that are from the main servers built in (windows xp DHCP server).

theres nothing more to know....

just that the TFTP32 DHCP server didnt work, only the one built into windows xp worked so far. as the laptop said there was no DHCP server with that.

so is there any way to modify the windows xp DHCP server to point to a boot file? (on TFTP32)
TFTPD32 definitely works. The no boot rom found is probably due to ICS DHCP server.

Can you test that tftp is actually working from another PC. (It can be the same PC as the server if you wish) Firstly disable ICS and run up TFTPD32. (PXE compatable off and pxelinix.0 as the bootfile.)

From the cmd prompt. run the following command.

tftp -i <tftp server ip> GET pxelinux.0

If it's working you should see this message.

Transfer successful: 13148 bytes in 1 second, 13148 bytes/s

If that works then the problem is either your PXE bios is broken and needs to be updated or one of the TFTPD32 (DHCP) settings isn't right. If possible try with another PXE enabled PC to eliminate possible BIOS issues.

RoryRAuthor Commented:
been ill, gonna try what u sed nowish :-)

also raised points abit. say if u think they should be higher and I'll consider it

RoryRAuthor Commented:
ok *sigh*

done abit of my own work... and your jumping the gun.

wtf difference does it make if the tftp works if its not actualy getting the bootfile name?!?!?

ok, this is what I have found, correct me if I'm wrong:

you need:


-ProxyDHCP SERVER (if the dhcp server isn't good enough I think)



DHCP SERVER - for some reason it wants an ip address, dont know why it couldn't do it without (use MAC'S)

ProxyDHCP SERVER - to tell it where the boot file is

TFTP SERVER - to download the bootfile


ok I have experimented, and if I use a ProxyDHCP server with no DHCP server it says something like: "proxyDHCP invitation, but no DHCP invitation"

if I use the s**tty, probably not working dhcp server in tftp32 it makes no difference and if I use it on its own it says: NO proxyDHCP / DHCP reponse so it blatently doesnt work....

if I use ICS DHCP server it says NO boot file listed, so of cause its working but the one built inti xp sucks and u cant state a boot rom, can u?

SO basicly I need a good NEW DHCP server that WORKS to tell it where to download the bootfile from.... or and old DHCP server that doesnt conflict with the ProxyDHCP server I found that works.

and I have a TFTP server that works set up, as I tested it, not the one you suggested as I have gone very far off it after trying to get the DHCP server to work and it blatently doesn't

RoryRAuthor Commented:

it does work, you just didn't tell me how to set it up right, so I learnt up on it all and figured it out myself...

the boot rom isn't working as it should yet I think.

... coming up with error once it gets into boot thing

 ow well, I'll do it, tell me anything that might help if u want.
RoryRAuthor Commented:
ok now it is, but what da hell should I do with it?

Great :)

What menu optinos are there?

You probably want the undis3c disk... THat has NIC driver support.

From that you can MAP a network drive  with "NET USE f: \\Servername\sharename"

Then format c: and copy the windows setup files locally, then run setup.


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RoryRAuthor Commented:
nah, it freezes while booting that particulatr room, after it says about allocation 40 drives or something.

can give you an exact quote if it helps.
RoryRAuthor Commented:
erm, the bart one lets me do net use, but it says the computer name in the share or something cant be
Can you ping the IP of the remote computer?

ie.  ping

You can also use the ip instead in the same.

Net Use f: \\\sharename

Obviously you need to setup a share on the remote computer also and have a user and password setup to access it. This share should also have Windows XP setup files on it too.


RoryRAuthor Commented:
I tryed pinging and it worked.

but, when I try using "Net Use f: \\\E" it says no such host name or something.

same if I use comp name.

why :'(
Is the DHCP server set to allocate a DNS  or WINS server?

Does the ping work with a hostname?

RoryRAuthor Commented:
well, its all done, I used another computer....

incase someone else wants to install a computer over the lan, this is how I did it:

ran tftpd32 with these settings:


ip pool starting address:
size of pool: 10
boot file: pxelinux.0
win / dns:
default router:

tftp: where the pxelinux.0 is set for directory

then if u have an IBM thinkpad, burn it / deselect booting from hdd as this seems to effect network booting, even if net booting is before it.

then boot from network...

when it comes up with a prompt, use the bart image and then map the network drive as rob sed, I found it usefull to share a folder with I386 folder in it and

thanks rob, you have been a lengend, couldn't have done it without you, although you sucked on the instructions for tftpd32 :-P... the problem was it needs to assign an ip address to it for some reason as I read somewhere with my scouting.

cheers Rob :-)  -Rory
WOW... Great work... Thanks.

An epic, but we got there. :)
Where can I find, the link is not longer working.
Yeah I had to remove it as I needed the web space. Sorry.

What files were you after exactly?
hey Rob, btw let me tell you that I check all the posts and it was an amazing job you did here and lot's of patience.

At the end I solve my problem removing the hard drive and using a 2.5 - 3.5 hard disk adapter to install DOS on the laptop PC and then install XP using winnt and then upgrade to Windows 7 so I don't need tftp to be working anymore but I was wondering what files were required in order to boot from the net.

I try your method using tftp and I was able to get an ip and then connect to the tftp server but when trying net use it didn't work. I think I was missing something on the boot files like the bart image.
You "might" need to run startnet.bat under WInPE to initialize the network stack.

Under some editions of WinPE, Name resolution doesn't work if booted from RIS. But the Ram disk method doesn't have a problem.
i will try it. Thanks a lot Rob :)
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