Chapter 3. PXE Network Installations

Red Hat Enterprise Linux allows for installation over a network using the NFS, FTP, or HTTP protocols. A network installation can be started from a boot CD-ROM, a bootable flash memory drive, or by using the askmethod boot option with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux CD #1. Alternatively, if the system to be installed contains a network interface card (NIC) with Pre-Execution Environment (PXE) support, it can be configured to boot from files on another networked system rather than local media such as a CD-ROM.
For a PXE network installation, the client's NIC with PXE support sends out a broadcast request for DHCP information. The DHCP server provides the client with an IP address, other network information such as name server, the IP address or hostname of the tftp server (which provides the files necessary to start the installation program), and the location of the files on the tftp server. This is possible because of PXELINUX, which is part of the syslinux package.
The following steps must be performed to prepare for a PXE installation:
  1. Configure the network (NFS, FTP, HTTP) server to export the installation tree.
  2. Configure the files on the tftp server necessary for PXE booting.
  3. Configure which hosts are allowed to boot from the PXE configuration.
  4. Start the tftp service.
  5. Configure DHCP.
  6. Boot the client, and start the installation.

3.1. Setting up the Network Server

First, configure an NFS, FTP, or HTTP server to export the entire installation tree for the version and variant of Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be installed. Refer to the section Preparing for a Network Installation in the Installation Guide for detailed instructions.