Tag Archives: dell

Installing OS over PXE on machine without USB/optical drive

I got a little second-hand Dell D430 laptop to use for my upcoming polargraph show. I’m actually really impressed, it’s a dinky little thing.  No optical drive however, and installing an OS from a USB memory stick didn’t seem to work.  So I’ve done it over the network, and it even seems to work.

PXE (Pre execution environment) is the method, and this is a way of booting over LAN.  Hit F12 on the POST screen and then boot from NIC.  There needs to be a server on the network with TFTP running on it, to dish up the necessary files.  This is hard, but there is a nice little app called SERVA that handles the TFTP/DHCP stuff, because I don’t know how to.  Anyway, I followed the instructions on this site and windows 8 is winging it’s way onto my new old machine.

Issues:

I initially tried putting the windows 8 disk in and symlinking to it instead of copying the files into the TFTP source folder.  That worked up to a point, but the installation failed.  I think it is because SERVA needs to add some files to the windows installation to customise it for this method, and obviously that can’t work if it’s read-only (on a CD).   So actually copy them over, or at least make sure they are somewhere that is writable.