Debian netboot install over PXE

Installing Debian on an ultraportable machine (no FDD, no CD) is fairly easy, but sometimes I get stuck.

To setup the PXE host I installed dhcp3-server and tftpd-hpa.

I used the netboot images at

copying them to /var/lib/tftpboot and unpacking netboot.tar.gz.

I configured /etc/dhcp3/dhcpd.conf for the target machine, using its MAC address. Don’t forget the ‘next-server’ option.

subnet netmask {


host cmalu {
 hardware ethernet xa:xa:xa:xa:xa:xa ;
 filename "pxelinux.0";
 server-name "name";
 option routers;
 option domain-name-servers;

I then start tftpd like this:

 /usr/sbin/in.tftpd -v -v -v -l -s /var/lib/tftpboot

it logs to /var/log/daemon.log

The debian installer was looking for pxelinux.cfg/01-xa:xa:xa:xa:xa:xa so I copied pxelinux.cfg/default to that file.

Once the installer starts things are fairly simple.

One Reply to “Debian netboot install over PXE”

  1. Thank you very much, i had to comment on this 🙂 it works.

    This is so simple howto for “quickstart”.

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