How to install OS through Network boot (step by step)

Boot from LAN is really useful if you have lots of computers. This article will guide you how to install OS through Network boot.

Introduction

Since the early versions of AIO Boot, this tool has supported booting from the LAN. It supports you to do a lot of work such as installing OS, running tools to Ghost, managing partitions, backup and recovery.

How to install OS through Network boot (step by step)

You just need a computer to replace the other bootable devices like USB, HDD and DVD… Of course, clients need to have a local area network connection with the server and have network boot support. If you boot from USB, boot loader and operating systems will use the files on USB. If you boot from the LAN, the boot loader and operating systems will download the necessary files from the LAN. The advantage of network booting is that you will not need to attach boot devices to clients (except cables). If the data transfer rate in your LAN is slower than the read/write speed of boot devices such as USB, HDD or DVD, the speed is the downside of this method.

AIO Boot supports Windows installation from network boot. You can install Windows by integrating ISO and using the Windows Installer or booting into WinPE and installing Windows manually. Most Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, Arch Linux are also supported.

Configure PXE server

To boot from LAN, you need to have a PXE server, a DHCP server, and a server to share files. You just need a computer to do all this.

AIO Boot uses Tiny PXE Server to create PXE server and DHCP server. Run AIOCreator.exe, select Run PXE and select mode to run Tiny PXE Server.

Boot from LAN
AIO Boot uses iPXE as boot loader, which supports both legacy BIOS and UEFI (32-bit and 64-bit) modes.

Tiny PXE Server will run and be preconfigured.

Tiny PXE Server

If the configuration is not correct, reconfigure it.

  1. Option 54 (DHCP Server): The IP address of the computer running Tiny PXE Server. This list contains the IP addresses of network adapters (including VirtualBox and VMware). You need to select the correct IP address in the same local area network of the clients.
  2. Filename: Boot file of iPXE, you can choose another boot file in the /AIO folder if the current file does not work on the client.
    • Legacyundionly.kpxeundionly.kkpxeipxe.pxe and intel.pxe.
    • UEFI 64-bitipxe64.efisnponly64.efi and intel64.efi.
    • UEFI 32-bitipxe32.efisnponly32.efi and intel32.efi.
  3. After reconfiguring, click the Offline and Online buttons for the changes to take effect.

For Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian, I use FreeNFS to create NFS servers. You do not need any further configuration.

Share Folder or Drive

If the files you need are already on the client, just use it. But if the files are not on the client computer, of course you need to get it from another computer. You can download it from the Internet but the speed will be much slower than the local area network.

First, copy all the necessary files to a folder and then share it. Or share a drive. See the Guide to Share a Folder or Drive from Microsoft.

Here are the steps I share the AIO Boot drive:

How to share files between computers on same network

  1. Right-click on the AIO Boot drive and select Properties.
  2. Switch to the Sharing tab.
  3. Select Advanced Sharing…
  4. Check the Share this folder box.
  5. Enter a name for the Share name.
  6. Click OK.
  7. The Network Path is what I need to get, here is \\Whoami\g.

Install Windows

Since AIO Boot v0.9.7.5, you can install Windows from network boot using the Windows Installer. Here are step by step:

  1. Run AIOCreator.exe and integrate Windows ISO file into AIO Boot. Only support Windows 7, 8, 8.1, Windows 10, does not support Windows XP.
  2. Share AIO Boot Drive.
  3. Run PXE and boot into PXE on clients.
  4. This is the iPXE menu of AIO Boot. Access the WinPE & Setup menu and boot into the Windows menu that you integrated in step 1.
    iPXE menu
    iPXE wimboot
  5. Enter the Network Path you shared in step 2 when asked. You can enter Network Path|Username|Password if the server has Username and Password. For Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10, if you use a Microsoft account to sign in, it is also your computer’s username and password.
    How to install Windows from network boot step by step
  6. Enter the username and password that you used to share the AIO Boot drive. Or you can Turn off password protected sharing. The password is not displayed when you type it at the password prompt.
    Enter the username for net use
  7. If the information is correct, the Windows Installer will appear. You can then install Windows from Network boot using the same steps as using a USB or DVD.
    install windows from network pxe

If the program reports that the Network Path is incorrect, it may be due to several other reasons:

  • Windows 7 may not support your network drivers. Try Windows 10 or Windows 8.1.
  • Connection blocked by Firewall, try disabling it. My connection is blocked by Bitdefender, I disabled the firewall in Bitdefender and everything works.

If you only use a single computer to initialize the PXE server, you only need to enter the Network Path once. AIO Boot v0.9.8.7 supports reading Network Path from /AIO/networkpath.txt. Just add the Network Path to this file, you can add multiple Network Paths by adding multiple lines. The tool will try one by one.

\\yourcomputername\sharename

If your computer has an account and password, add them behind the Network Path separated by a vertical bar (“|”).

\\yourcomputername\sharename|youraccount|yourpassword

If you then initialize the PXE server on another computer, this means that the Network Path, user name, and password have changed. Just enter the new information in /AIO/networkpath.txt.

The above steps will help you to install Windows easily. There is another method that you can use for many other purposes. That’s using WinPE. See instructions for installing Windows from WinPE for more details.

  1. Download WinPE and integrate it into the AIO Boot as instructed in the Readme.txt file.
  2. Boot into WinPE from network boot.
  3. Use the net use command to connect to the drive or folder you have shared. Here I will attach the Network Path to the Z: drive.
    net use Z: \\Whoami\g
  4. Now you can mount Windows ISO files or use the dism command to install Windows. From WinPE, you can run diskpart command to partition before installation. Or run the tools from the folder you have shared, or Ghost…

Linux

AIO Boot also supports booting and installing many Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, CentOS, Arch Linux… Just run AIOCreator.exe and integrate the Linux distributions. Then boot from the LAN, it will appear in the iPXE menu if it is supported.

Here is an incomplete list of Linux distributions that support booting from a LAN:

  • 4MParted
  • 4MRecover
  • Antergos
  • Antivirus Live CD
  • Apricity OS
  • Arch Bang
  • Arch Linux
  • BakAndImgCD
  • BlackArch Linux
  • BlueStar Linux
  • CentOS
  • CoreOS
  • Debian
  • Elive
  • Fedora
  • G-DATA Boot-Medium
  • gNewSense
  • JonDo Linux
  • Kali Linux
  • KaOS
  • MiniTool Partition Wizard 9.1
  • PIXEL for PC and Mac
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • SliTaz
  • SysRescue
  • TheSSS
  • Ubuntu
  • Webconverger

AIO Boot also supports many other tools like Acronis, Norton Ghost, PartitionGuru, Terabyte…

If you do not have computers for testing, you can test this feature through VMware Workstation. Wish success!

 

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61 thoughts on “How to install OS through Network boot (step by step)”

  1. Thanks for your tool
    Am getting a error httpd Exception: connection closed gracefully
    httpd Disconnect :ID=XXXX
    after copying boot.wim in client

  2. I’m having trouble booting into a Linux live CD with iPXE, specifically Debian 7 XFCE. It boots to a login screen. Some searching has told me that it needs to be configured to boot in live or single user mode, but I haven’t been able to change that configuration.

    1. Any idea why Debian 7 live would boot to a login screen over the network as opposed to the regular live installation desktop?

      There’s no user/password combination that works, so I’m stuck there. I’ve looked at the .cfg file that gets made when integrating the .iso file, specifically that it has boot=live, but don’t know what could be wrong there.

          1. Sorry, I forgot to test it.
            Open the file /AIO/menu.ipxe, find and append the highlighted paragraph as shown below as in the following code:

            :linuxcnc-2.7-wheezy
            set path_file /Files/Linux/linuxcnc-2.7-wheezy
            set nfspath /Linux/linuxcnc-2.7-wheezy
            kernel ${boot-url}${path_file}/live/vmlinuz boot=live components netboot=nfs nfsroot=${nfs-server}:${nfspath} initrd=initrd.img config nosplash lapic rootdelay=5
            initrd ${boot-url}${path_file}/live/initrd.img || goto failed
            boot || goto failed
  3. hello,

    fisrt of all this tool is amazing..:D
    i am trying to install windows 7 64 bit using PXE but when i get to part where i am supposed to insert the network path it gives me an error and asks me to add the netowrk path again, only work for windows 10 from your post and i quote “Windows 7 may not support your network drivers.”, is there a way to solve this problem?

  4. Thank you for updating so quickly.

    I’ve downloaded the new version, and I am trying to get it to work, but I can’t seem to. I’ve entered the network path, user and password into the networkpath.txt file like so:

    \\server\share|username|password
    I’ve also tried
    \\server\share | username | password

    When I enter the path manually when the dialog pops up, it works just fine – so there shouldn’t be anything wrong with the share setup. I’ve tried with both Windows 7 and Windows 10 installs.

    Please tell me if there is any more information I can provide to you that will help.

    1. Oh, wait… do I have to do the integration process again for it to work, or should it work with existing setups? I’ve not tried integrating it again, but I will do in a moment.

      Daniel

        1. Thank you. Yep, got it working after re-integrating.

          Another question though, although I am not sure this is within your control.

          When booting certain WinPE-based images over PXE, I’m getting a 0xc0000017 error saying “There isn’t enough memory available to create a ramdisk device”. This happens on a Lenovo Thinkpad W530 with 32GB RAM. The same image – Bob Ombs WinPE – works fine in a Virtualbox VM booting over PXE with only 4GB of RAM. I guess wimboot is to blame?

  5. Hi!

    This is excellent. I am just wondering – is there a way to “hardcode” the network path? I use Aioboot on a dedicated machine, and the network path never changes. It is somewhat tiresome to enter the same network path, username and password over and over again. Is there somewhere I can write this stuff in so that it automatically connects to the share?

      1. Thank you, looking forward to it. May I ask what the name of the application that executes the “Network path”-dialog is? Maybe I can create a temporary solution.

          1. Hi again. version 0.9.7 has been really nice, but I have encountered a few issues regarding auto mounting Windows install share. From what I can see in the Tiny PXE server log and other logs, it seems like the installprogram doesnt ask for an IP address until after the lmsify program tries to mount the share. The auto mounting program seems to be “too quick” 😉 So it usually works great, but sometimes it will fail and bring up the “Network Path” dialog, even though the share is up and running.

          2. Windows Share does not depend on Tiny PXE Server, because it can operate without Tiny PXE Server.
            Lmbify only performs the connection after the network service is ready. I’m not sure it will work if the connection is delayed for a few seconds.

          3. Thank you for your quick reply. I see

            I will have to do some more digging. On my current setup at home it usually works 10/10 times, but on this new setup it’s very hit and miss, and only works with certain Windows versions. Works to mount it manually, but won’t do it automatically. Tried with both IP and computer name (e.g. \\PXESERVER\).

            Thank you, I will try some more and come back if I have any information on the topic.

          4. Hello,
            AIO boott is really cool.
            I wanted to ask if the program Lmsify is open source or if you can publish it? I would really like to know how the program works?
            Is that possible?

            Greetings jamefane

  6. Hi,
    I setup everything according to the tutorial, however I never get to the network path option. During my setup it seems to skip this step.

    I tried using the following; Legacy boot option, W7 Pro x64 and W10 x64 iso.

    Any suggestions on why it won’t show the network path option?

    Tom

  7. When I insert Windows XP ISO or setupfile on it, its show in the MENU Editor, but not show in the client installation system, except Window XP all OS show properly, so that I cant install Windows XP through it. Please help

  8. Hello Tu Nguyen your tool is working very well! I want to make a question, is it possible to insert an autounattend.xml file into the AIO directory so that all Windows 10 ISOs can load this preconfigured file? Otherwise, you must insert the file into all ISO’s one by one. Sorry about my English.

      1. It did not work, I tried to put the file in all directories that have bootmgr, it does not recognize, for now the only way and insert the file inside each iso.

  9. Upon entering Windows 7 Install, it will ask for the network path, username and password after everything is inputted. It will give me an error that says it can’t reach the network path.

    Other OS like 10, 8.1 is working fine.

  10. Hello. I don’t know how to set the tinypxe server up. After running, the client pc shows an error message “*ipaddress*\grub\themes\splash.png” and I followed every step of this guide, also, there IS a Splash.png file in my external Shared HDD so, if you can, please help me :3

  11. Hi Tu Nguyen

    Your tool is working great !
    My Question is i want to set aio as PXE server and put them on auto start , write now its take manual steps as Open Application , click on Run PXE , select mode legacy and then check on BINL.
    can you please suggest me how to set up this on auto mode

  12. I got PXE server to load, however I cannot get passed the network path step.

    I get “network path is incorrect or does not exist” on the system I am trying to boot. However if I try the path on a seperate PC that is loaded with windows it finds the path just fine.

          1. I was thinking this too, however now I am having issues accessing the shared folder through any computer. I suspect something is not working correctly with my shared folder now.

        1. Hi Nguyen,

          Have the same issue above.

          Upon entering Windows 7 Install, it will ask for the network path, username and password after everything is inputted. It will give me an error that says it can’t reach the network path.

  13. I tried to run PXE tool to boot my second system from LAN and if I choose UEFI 64 in settings, I have an error message: PXE-E79: NBP is too big to fit in free base memory. If I choose legacy option the boot is successful. Any way around to boot in UEFI mode?

      1. Currently due to the lack of time I am not able to do the tutorial, but if you want to convert your router to the AIO server, first of all you need to ensure that the router does not run out of space for additional software.
        I recommend reading about exroot tutorials

        If you have a router ready for further work, I invite you to read the instructions on the website (there is also information about exroot):
        https://wiki.openwrt.org/doc/howto/tftp.pxe-server

        This is a guide for the older version of PXE, which allows you to run fewer operating systems, but if you study the differences between the systems you should come to this as well as install a newer version of iPXE, which can easily handle windows (including UEFI)

        During installation, pay attention to the differences in the directory structure that OpenWrt has and the standard Debian / Linux