PXE booting FreeDOS

2007-08-27

A user emailed me to ask (in short) how to boot FreeDOS using PXE? The target PC only has a network card and memory ... no hard drive, no floppy, no USB, no CD-ROM. Has anyone here successfully PXE-booted FreeDOS?


Bernd Blaauw writes:

What does he want out of his machine? You'll need some kind of server, running TFTP software. For Windows I use Tfptd32. Furthermore you need a boot image placed on the TFTP server. Client needs to be able to boot from network (network interface card with bootrom on it or in BIOS).

Syslinux PXE is what I follow usually. Server → TFTP program → pxelinux → memdisk → bootdisk image → client's network card and machine.

Nwdsk is a nice bootdisk image, and testing PXE functionality is easiest with Memtest as payload (rather than memdisk + dos bootdisk image). Extending functionality of the network booted image can be done using packet drivers, ndis drivers, ramdisk drivers, etc.

and:

PXE booting counts the same as booting from cdrom, so it means there's emulation involved (usally a diskette image becoming A: and real floppydrive becoming B: till reboot). the Pxelinux's stack is quite heavy in memory as you cannot unload it (never an option implemented for it yet I think). You'd activate it by using the KEEPPXE option (which one of your memdisk-related tools can detect obviously)

I've recently purchased the Universal Packet Driver to do PXE booting without having to load a NIC-specific packet driver, it's $8 from emboot.com, and I'll use it some faster testing. It's easier than using PCISLEEP + temp files + FIND.COM to load the appropriate packet driver based on PCI ID strings.


You may also find additional information from this article: (http://www.terryburton.co.uk/blog/2007/08/pxe-boot-freedos-with-memdisk-to-flash.html) PXE boot FreeDOS with MEMDISK to flash a GIGABYTE BIOS.