Netboot Install Remarks

Netboot Install Remarks

Installing Ubuntu on a laptop (IBM X31) without drives through netboot install.

The basic steps are explained in the Netboot Install Howto

Assumption: You're firewalled and will not expose services used for this exercise to the world. You have a reasonable (cable) network connection.

The slightly different scenario caused some adjustments, which I'd like to share here.


  • Cablerouter acting as dhcp server and gateway to the internet (ip:
  • Linux box running debian to serve the bootimage through tftp and act as dhcp-boot server (ip:, hostname: debian)
  • Laptop without drives, but with network boot option in the BIOS.

The proceeding is:

  • Install aftpd (see InstallingSoftware): the tftpd isn't able to serve the files.

  • Download the Ubuntu netboot tar file from the Ubuntu netboot archive

  • Unfortunately this is a warty file, I wasn't able to install hoary directly.
  • Unpack into /tftpboot (sudo mkdir /tftpboot), which is the default for aftpd tar -xzf pxeboot.tar.gz -C /tftpboot

  • a) dnsmasq: The following entry in /etc/dnsmasq.conf lets the dhcp server on linux indicate the cablerouter as default route for packets to the internet:dhcp-boot=pxelinux.0,debian, dhcp-option=3, Run dnsmasq (sudo dnsmasq).

  • b) dhcpd: The debian machine runs its own dns server (dhcpd) with the follow configuration (/etc/dhcpd.conf):

host x31 { 
   hardware ethernet <MAC address of laptop>; 
   fixed-address <some unused IP for laptop>; 
   filename "/tftpboot/pxelinux.0"; 
   option routers; 
  • Run dhcpd (install dhcpd package (see InstallingSoftware), and launch it sudo dhcpd).

    • Pressing the Access IBM button at boot time (or your equivalent on non-IBM laptops. Mostly F1, Delete, Shift-F10) lets one enter the BIOS to do a netboot (sometimes called PXE / boot ROM) * Check the log files to see what's happening, since netboot is not very verbose: tail -f /var/log/daemon.log

... marvel as Ubuntu is installed over the net. Upgrade to Hoary as needed.

NetbootInstallRemarks (last edited 2008-08-06 17:00:07 by localhost)