PXE booting FreeDOS


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.


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.