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I have recently seen an IT setup where the Windows Clients start in PXE mode, get an IP via DHCP and then boot from the first HDD. Now the admins have the possibility to say remotely next time the client boots not from HDD but gets a new image via PXE from a Windows Deployment Server.

How does that work? What do I need serverside to achieve something like that and how to do this in detail?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

That is a combination of Windows Deployment Services(WDS), System Center Config Manager(SCCM), and Active Directory (AD). You can advertise an Operating System Deployment (OSD) in SCCM for a specific OU in AD, and move the specific PC into that OU. The next time it is booted, imaging will be forced. SCCM leverages WDS to get this accomplished.

So, while WDS does allow PXE booting and imaging across the network, it cannot be quite as automated as that without SCCM. Normally, you would boot to PXE manually and select the boot image. Once the boot image loads, you might have other options to choose/setup before the image applies.

The settings for how a client responds to the PXE boot can be found in the left page of WDS, select the server and right click. Choose properties, then the boot tab.

Hope this helps,

(signature for disclosure purposes)


Windows Outreach Team - IT Pro

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You need at the very least:

  • a TFTP server
  • a file on that server that when loaded will do something you want
  • a DHCP server that is configured to tell "PXE clients" to get the above file

I believe a properly installed and configured WDS server will more or less do the above, but it's outside my area of experience. I have netbooted Debian installs using a procedure similar to above, though.

There's also other boot protocols that some BIOSes support, such as "RPL." I don't know very much about them.

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