PXE-boot server – Introduction – Part 1/5


My second work is to repair notebooks / netbooks. For better & faster service required centralized solution for boot / install OS / install apps. Until now I made a multi-boot pendrive (32GB) with needed installable & live OS files & application collection (with WPI). Meantime I had an old x86 “server” machine which was used just for share my media-files over my home-network. So the plan was simply: Extend actual targets of media-server with PXE-boot option.

These posts (5 piece) will guides you how to create media & pxe-boot server from your old hardware.


  • We will use VMs (Virtual-Machine) on guide. I recommend this way but you can prepare it to real-hardware also.
  • Media-server’s OS is debian 7 (based).  If you follow until end of posts you can port the settings easily to another linux-release.
  • My server’s hardware is an old-one. It is a double-core CPU x86 machine with 2GB DDR2 memory. This machine is not right for everyday-usage but ideal for media-share & pxe-boot server.

Theory of operation:

As I said, I created a multi-function server. On Schematic Diagram you can see the simple-operation of Media & PXE boot server. Please review it before start to create your VM / real hardware.

Create virtual-machine (on Schematic Diagram  – “Home Server”):

For first step install your favorite virtual-machine host application. This guide was written for oracle’s free solution: VirtualBox.

Installation media what we will use is OpenMediaVault‘s 2.1 version. You can download it here.

In short, why OpenMediaVault 2.1 was choosen: From NAS-like OS-es this is the only which support x86 architecture, need tiny resource to run (memory, hdd, cpu) & have simply, html-based management page / interface out-of-box. For home use it is ideal.

Create new VM with basic settings:

 – Version: This article / blog was written for OpenMediaVault (OMV) 2.1 x86 version. Type is “Linux” & x86 archtecture is equal with “32-bit”. The OMV 2.1 is debian based.

 – 1024MB will  be enough for test (for real system, 2048MB is recommended)

Create disk to your new VM:

 – I recommend fixed size disk, as it is prevent your VM and your host machine from in-time full-disk (VM crash, maybe your host machine also).

Fine-tune you new VM:

 – “Enable PAE/NX” feature must have as after installation OMV couldn’t boot (kernel panic). Enable it as in picture!

 – As we don’t have any GUI on OS, just character interface (and web), 1MB of video memory is enough.

 – Disable audio. We don’t need it.

 – Choose “Bridged Adapter” to have internet. After that choose your ethernet-card from the list, where you have actual internet-connection (In my case I choose my wireless card as I connected with WiFi to internet)

 – Make sure, that “Cable Connected” is enabled. In case of disabled state, you don’t have any network connection (like when you disconnect your network cable from your real computer).

Install OS to your VM + basic settings after installation:

Now it is not important, but if you will use it in real environment, please don’t forget that OMV21’s disk where you install is is just usable for system, not for any other (like samba share / store media-files). For this reason the hard disk drive’s size can be minimal.

Install OpenMediaVault 2.1 i386 (/x86 / 32-bit):

Basic settings on new installation:

As you see on the host OS-setup picture (highlighted in red rectangle) the fresh-installed OMV21 at the moment haven’t got any ethernet interface where it can be accessed via web-gui / ssh.

Network: To bring up your ethernet-interface, edit “/etc/network/interfaces” with “nano” and append “auto eth0” line to the configuration. After that it will be look like:

# The primary network interface
allow-hotplug eth0
auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

If you finished, restart the VM (“init 6” or “shutdown -r now“). In next boot you will see an IP-Address where Web-interface is accessible (This address was provided your DHCP-server on your real network) from your host machine (where you run VirtualBox):

For reference you can check my “interfaces” configuration file:

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
auto eth0
allow-hotplug eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

Setup SSH via web-interface: With web interface this task is so easy, just follow five step on the picture:

recommend to continue work via SSH-client (like PuTTY) as easier to copy & paste commands and user-friendly mode to manage your remote computer.

On next post:

One of them’s topic will show you how you can add extra-plugin repository for your OpenMediaVault (for torrent & for a lot of good plugin) & configure it to share your media-files over our network. You can skip if your target is just to create a PXE-boot server.

The other-one’s topic will be how can you setup a DHCP-server & TFTP-server. If PXE-part is more interesting for you / you can adjust OMV to your needs without post, read this post.

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