Install Windows over network with PXE

You may have read in a previous post how I installed Ubuntu on my sisters laptop with PXE, well this worked great, but I couldn’t for the life of me get WPA to work on the wireless card, so after about a week of trying I decided to try and PXE boot windows as the laptop had no floppy drive, no CD drive and couldn’t boot from USB, what follows is the result of the trials and tribulations of that experience…. enjoy. If you want a quicker, simpler installation with a vanilla XP check this Easy way to PXE Boot Windows guide.

Step 1: Getting started.

What you’ll need:

  1. The Server – Any PC running 2000/XP
  2. The Source – Windows 2000/XP CD (we need to get the i386 directory)
  3. The Client – Laptop capable of booting over PXE (such as the L400).
  4. Tftpd32
  5. SysAngel DVD Generator  or if you already have .NET framework 1.1.4322 or higher you can get the self-extractible here.
  6. A Share. The Server must be able to share files (any Microsoft Windows computer can).
  7. Working router or plain crossover cable.

Once you’ve collected all of the above, do the below:

  1. Download and install latest DVD Generator. It’s a single EXE, double-clicking it will install / upgrade it.
  2. Create a C:\OUTPUT directory to store the necessary files for your RIS Service. (There should be at least 600 Mo of free space on the selected drive, but it could be as big as 5 or 6 Go if you choose to download every available software.)
  3. Share the C:\OUTPUT directory, according Read rights to everyone. Let’s keep the default share name (OUTPUT).

Downloading necessary sources using the DVD Generator.

  1. Launch the SysAngel DVD Generator.
  2. In the “1. Select your output folder” textbox, enter C:\OUTPUT.
  3. In the “2. Indicate your Windows XP source”, browse to the i386 directory of the Windows XP you want to deploy.
  4. In the “4. Enter Windows Serial number” textbox, you may provide a serial but this is optional.
  5. Now, click the “5. Generate the SYSANGEL DVD ISO” button. Of course, we don’t really need the ISO image that will be generated, but we do need the software to download or update files used to generate the ISO. We also need the DVD Generator to prepare the Windows release.
  6. When everything is done, click the “Finished the custom. Generate the ISO!” button and wait… until you get to the final screen :
  7. The C:\OUTPUT folder should be all right. If you want to install Windows with a bootable DVD at a later date, burn the ISO (C:\OUTPUT\DVD.iso). Else, you can simply delete this file.
  8. If DVD Generator fails to burn the DVD.iso try using your favourite burning software, you can now close the DVD Generator.

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