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2PXE-menu tools README file
5Author: Ole Holm Nielsen
6        Dept. of Physics, Technical University of Denmark
7        E-mail:
9Version: 1.1
10Date: 01-Oct-2007
15The PXE-menu tools are used to control the booting of networked computers
16directly from the computer's console at the BIOS level before any operating
17system has been loaded.  This is extremely useful for diagnostic purposes,
18or for selecting an operating system installation method, of an individual
19computer.  If you need to do the same operation on many computers, it is
20better to use the pxeconfig tools (
21to control the booting from your network's DHCP/TFTP server.
23Additional information
26We provide further details on our Linux cluster's homepage:
29Prerequisite software
32We use some of the SYSLINUX tools for providing the PXE menus in this package, see
[111]33 and
[106]34For your convenience the binary files are included with this package, but you can
35also build them yourself by following the instructions in the
36 web-page.
38We include the SYSLINUX documentation files in the syslinux-doc/ directory,
39since this documentation is not available on the SYSLINUX web-pages.
[111]40Start by reading the README file and syslinux.doc if you want to
41understand the configuration file syntax.
43What's included
46The pxemenu/ directory tree should be copied to your DHCP/TFTP server's
47/tftpboot directory (or wherever your TFTP server has its root directory).
48Please see the file INSTALL-pxemenu for detailed installation instructions.
50When your computer has been configured to do a PXE boot, it will automatically
51download the file pxelinux.0 by TFTP and execute it, and pxelinux.0 will
52download configuration files from the pxelinux.cfg/ subdirectory.
53In the pxelinux.cfg/* configuration files are references to files that
54should be downloaded by TFTP, and these files are all relative to the
55top-level TFTP directory.
57Here we assume that the file named "default" in pxelinux.cfg/ is a soft-link to
58the file so that the PXE menus will be loaded.  You could also let be one of the options which you configure by using pxeconfig.
61The most important files included in the pxemenu/ directory are:
63  pxelinux.0 memdisk com32/menu.c32 com32/chain.c32: Binary files from the
64         SYSLINUX project which are needed for the usual booting methods.
65  com32/*.c32: All SYSLINUX 3.52 COM32 files, see the SYSLINUX comboot.doc.
66  pxelinux.cfg/ The main PXE menu configuration file which
67         loads all the other PXE menus listed below.
68         The has a timeout of 5 seconds configured so that you
69         may use the arrow buttons to select options; otherwise the default
70         boot from harddisk will be selected.  This is most likely what you want
71         to do on a Linux cluster for unattended operation, but for other uses
72         the timeout can be commented out so that the menus will wait forever.
73  syslinux-doc: Documentation files from the SYSLINUX source.
74         You may want to read the files, and for further details
75         also syslinux.doc and pxelinux.doc.
77Example PXE menu files
80In the pxemenu/ directory are a number of examples that you may find useful
81for customizing your own PXE menu configurations.  They are:
83  x3455/: Example of PXE menus for an IBM X-series x3455 server.
84  mysystem/: Example of PXE menus for a generic server.
85          Copy this example and modify it for your particular server.
86          IMPORTANT: Always keep all images related to one type of hardware
87          in the same subdirectory so that you don't mix up different hardwares !
88  ghost/: Example of some Norton Ghost 2003 DOS boot diskette images.
89  Tools/: Example of some diagnostics tools, including Memtest86.
90          The vendor disk diagnostics tools you must download yourself
91          (usually copyrighted), see links in tools.conf.
92  centos.conf: Start a CentOS Linux installation.
94SystemImager installation with PXE menus
97SystemImager installation can be started as shown in the x3455/x3455.conf
98example file.  Each type of hardware is supported in SystemImager by a
99specially generated UYOK (Use Your Own Kernel) vmlinux kernel and
100initrd.img RAM-disk, see
102Therefore you must copy kernel and initrd.img from
[111]104to the subdirectory for your hardware (/tftpboot/x3455/ in the present example).
107What you must supply yourself
110The simple PXE menu tools included in this package are just simple but useful
111examples that have proven useful in our Linux cluster and desktop environment.
112You should provide boot images for the tools that you want to run, such as
113vendor firmware upgrade diskettes or Linux installation kernels, for example.
115If you want to add a physical DOS boot diskette of your own to the PXE menus,
116you can create an image of the physical diskette by:
118  dd if=/dev/fd0 of=myimage.img
120(assuming that the diskette drive on your Linux PC is /dev/fd0).
122Ultimate Boot CD tools
125If you want a huge selection of boot disks, you may want to look at the
126Ultimate Boot CD (UBC) project, see for
127information about this project.
129All of the UBC tools can be made available within the PXE menus, see
131Basically, just copy the contents of the UBC CD to /tftpboot and use the menu entry
132in pxeconfig.cfg/ to use the UBC tools from the PXE menus.  It's
133that simple !
135What doesn't work
138Many people have asked on the SYSLINUX mailing list how to boot ISO CD
139images using SYSLINUX or PXELINUX.  The short FAQ answer from the SYSLINUX
140author H. Peter Anvin is that it's impossible because of the ways CD-ROM drives
141are implemented in BIOSes.  See for example
144Special hardware issues
147Broadcom network adapters:  It is known that certain Broadcom Ethernet
148adapters are buggy.  If your system hangs while you move up and down the
149PXE menus, then you've probably been hit by this.  Please upgrade the
150firmware on the Broadcom adapter to the latest release.
152In the case of IBM X-series servers, you MUST upgrade the Broadcom firmware
153to at least release 2.0.0.
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