HowTo: 10 Steps to Configure tftpboot Server in UNIX / Linux (For installing Linux from Network using PXE)

by Balakrishnan Mariyappan on July 22, 2010

In this article, let us discuss about how to setup tftpboot, including installation of necessary packages, and tftpboot configurations.

TFTP boot service is primarily used to perform OS installation on a remote machine for which you don’t have the physical access. In order to perform the OS installation successfully, there should be a way to reboot the remote server — either using wakeonlan or someone manually rebooting it or some other ways.

In those scenarios, you can setup the tftpboot services accordingly and the OS installation can be done remotely (you need to have the autoyast configuration file to automate the OS installation steps).

Step by step procedure is presented in this article for the SLES10-SP3 in 64bit architecture. However, these steps are pretty much similar to any other Linux distributions.

Required Packages

The following packages needs to be installed for the tftpboot setup.

  • dhcp services packages: dhcp-3.0.7-7.5.20.x86_64.rpm and dhcp-server-3.0.7-7.5.20.x86_64.rpm
  • tftpboot package: tftp-0.48-1.6.x86_64.rpm
  • pxeboot package: syslinux-3.11-20.14.26.x86_64.rpm

Package Installation

Install the packages for the dhcp server services:

$ rpm -ivh dhcp-3.0.7-7.5.20.x86_64.rpm
Preparing...                ########################################### [100%]
   1:dhcp                   ########################################### [100%]

$ rpm -ivh dhcp-server-3.0.7-7.5.20.x86_64.rpm
Preparing...                ########################################### [100%]
   1:dhcp                   ########################################### [100%]

$ rpm -ivh tftp-0.48-1.6.x86_64.rpm

$ rpm -ivh syslinux-3.11-20.14.26.x86_64.rpm

After installing the syslinux package, pxelinux.0 file will be created under /usr/share/pxelinux/ directory. This is required to load install kernel and initrd images on the client machine.

Verify that the packages are successfully installed.

$ rpm -qa | grep dhcp
$ rpm -qa | grep tftp

Download the appropriate tftpserver from the repository of your respective Linux distribution.

Steps to setup tftpboot

Step 1: Create /tftpboot directory

Create the tftpboot directory under root directory ( / ) as shown below.

# mkdir /tftpboot/

Step 2: Copy the pxelinux image

PXE Linux image will be available once you installed the syslinux package. Copy this to /tftpboot path as shown below.

# cp /usr/share/syslinux/pxelinux.0 /tftpboot

Step 3: Create the mount point for ISO and mount the ISO image

Let us assume that we are going to install the SLES10 SP3 Linux distribution on a remote server. If you have the SUSE10-SP3 DVD insert it in the drive or mount the ISO image which you have. Here, the iso image has been mounted as follows:

# mkdir /tftpboot/sles10_sp3

# mount -o loop SLES-10-SP3-DVD-x86_64.iso /tftpboot/sles10_sp3

Refer to our earlier article on How to mount and view ISO files.

Step 4: Copy the vmlinuz and initrd images into /tftpboot

Copy the initrd to the tftpboot directory as shown below.

# cd /tftpboot/sles10_sp3/boot/x86_64/loader

# cp initrd linux /tftpboot/

Step 5: Create pxelinux.cfg Directory

Create the directory pxelinux.cfg under /tftpboot and define the pxe boot definitions for the client.

# mkdir /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg

# cat >/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default
default linux
label linux
kernel linux
append initrd=initrd showopts instmode=nfs install=nfs://192.168.1.101/tftpboot/sles10_sp3/

The following options are used for,

  • kernel – specifies where to find the Linux install kernel on the TFTP server.
  • install – specifies boot arguments to pass to the install kernel.

As per the entries above, the nfs install mode is used for serving install RPMs and configuration files. So, have the nfs setup in this machine with the /tftpboot directory in the exported list. You can add the “autoyast” option with the autoyast configuration file to automate the OS installation steps otherwise you need to do run through the installation steps manually.

Step 6: Change the owner and permission for /tftpboot directory

Assign nobody:nobody to /tftpboot directory.

# chown nobody:nobody /tftpboot

# chmod 777 /tftpboot

Step 7: Modify /etc/dhcpd.conf

Modify the /etc/dhcpd.conf as shown below.

# cat /etc/dhcpd.conf

ddns-update-style none;
default-lease-time 14400;
filename "pxelinux.0"; 

# IP address of the dhcp server nothing but this machine.
next-server 192.168.1.101;
subnet 192.168.1.0 netmask 255.255.255.0 {
  # ip distribution range between 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.100
  range 192.168.1.1 192.168.1.100;
  default-lease-time 10;
  max-lease-time 10;
}

Specify the interface in /etc/syslinux/dhcpd to listen dhcp requests coming from clients.

# cat /etc/syslinux/dhcpd | grep DHCPD_INTERFACE
DHCPD_INTERFACE=”eth1”;

Here, this machine has the ip address of 192.168.1.101 on the eth1 device. So, specify eth1 for the DHCPD_INTERFACE as shown above.

On a related note, refer to our earlier article about 7 examples to configure network interface using ifconfig.

Step 8: Modify /etc/xinetd.d/tftp

Modify the /etc/xinetd.d/tftp file to reflect the following. By default the value for disable parameter is “yes”, please make sure you modify it to “no” and you need to change the server_args entry to -s /tftpboot.

# cat /etc/xinetd.d/tftp
	service tftp {
                       socket_type     = dgram
                       protocol          = udp
                       wait               = yes
                       user               = root
                       server            = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
                       server_args     = -s /tftpboot
                       disable           = no
            }

Step 9: No changes in /etc/xinetd.conf

There is no need to modify the etc/xinetd.conf file. Use the default values specified in the xinetd.conf file.

Step 10: Restart xinetd, dhcpd and nfs services

Restart these services as shown below.

# /etc/init.d/xinetd restart

# /etc/init.d/dhcpd restart

# /etc/init.d/nfsserver restart

After restarting the nfs services, you can view the exported directory list(/tftpboot) by the following command,

# showmount -e

Finally, the tftpboot setup is ready and now the client machine can be booted after changing the first boot device as “network” in the BIOS settings.

If you encounter any tftp error, you can do the troubleshooting by retrieving some files through tftpd service.

Retrieve some file from the tftpserver to make sure tftp service is working properly using the tftp client. Let us that assume that sample.txt file is present under /tftpboot directory.

 $ tftp -v 192.168.1.101 -c get sample.txt

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 JJ July 22, 2010 at 4:25 am

I would love to know how to do this in Ubuntu? Anyone know of a site that shows this?

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