Building PXE-ready ReactOS

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Revision as of 09:37, 11 October 2018 by Jedi-to-be (talk | contribs)
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This sub-project has been suspended because of poor support for PXE and UEFI. Not true anymore. Only UEFI is incomplete.
You can use a Linux-Live-CD as a substitute.
ReactOS PXE Project Team:

Revision r51517 of ReactOS introduced support for PXE boot. It is now (r65903) possible to completely load the OS in LiveCD mode from a client computer. Since revision 0.4.11-dev-165-g9d1ee24 ReactOS can be also installed on hard-drive via PXE boot-strapping.
Freeldr must be compiled with GCC (MSVC builds present a bug at the moment), the rest can be compiled either by GCC or MSVC.

Preparing the LAN

For this scenario, we need two computers. One client (may be diskless or empty HDD) and one server (Windows, or better, Linux). Both must be connected to the local network.

The server must run a DHCP-server and a TFTP-server. The client must have a PXE-ready network card. Most onboard network cards support it.

Preparing the server

Install a TFTP server and a DHCP server on the remote computer. These steps will be only lightly covered here. Let's assume now that your TFTP server root is in /path/to/tftpboot, and that PXE boot filename is pxelinux.0

Creating contents on TFTP server

Download the ReactOS LiveCD and/or BootCD ISO file(s) here

Put the ISO file(s) in /path/to/tftpboot with the name ReactOS-LiveCD.iso and ReactOS-BootCD.iso

Extract loader/freeldr.sys to /path/to/tftpboot in case of BootCD OR
Extract loader/setupldr.sys to /path/to/tftpboot, and rename it to freeldr.sys in case of LiveCD

You must download SysLinux 4.05, or a more recent version (but at the moment all newer versions than 4.X have the regression in 'keeppxe' option and do not work with ReactOS), for example here

Extract core/pxelinux.0 and com32/modules/chain.c32 to /path/to/tftpboot

Create /path/to/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory and put in it a file named default (no extension) with the following contents:

DEFAULT chain.c32
APPEND file=freeldr.sys seg=0x0F80 keeppxe

Create /path/to/tftpboot/freeldr.ini with the following contents:


TitleText=ReactOS LiveCD
TimeText=Seconds until highlighted choice will be started automatically:

[Operating Systems]
LiveCD_Debug="LiveCD (Debug)"
LiveCD_Screen="LiveCD (Screen)"

Options=/MININT /RDPATH=net(0)\ReactOS-LiveCD.iso /RDEXPORTASCD



Options=/RDPATH=net(0)\ReactOS-BootCD.iso /RDEXPORTASCD

NOTE: Since revision r65982 you can specify the file for /RDPATH the "usual" (i.e. Windows') way, i.e. without the "net(0)\" part (that was here just because we couldn't load the file relative to the "current boot device" before...).

The Linux way

I used dhcp3 and tftpd-hpa. Use your favorite Linux and install them. I used Bind at home, but you can leave that out.

# Sample configuration file for ISC dhcpd for Debian
# $Id: dhcpd.conf,v 2002/05/21 00:07:44 peloy Exp $
ddns-update-style none;
# option definitions common to all supported networks...
option domain-name "home.local";
option domain-name-servers;
# If this DHCP server is the official DHCP server for the local
# network, the authoritative directive should be uncommented.
# Use this to send dhcp log messages to a different log file (you also
# have to hack syslog.conf to complete the redirection).
log-facility local7;
subnet netmask
        option domain-name-servers myserver.home.local;
        option domain-name "home.local";
        option routers IPofYourServer;
        option broadcast-address;
        default-lease-time 28800; # 8 hrs
        max-lease-time 86400; # 1 day
        allow bootp;
        host myclient
                hardware ethernet 00:0F:EA:66:07:48;
                fixed-address myclient.home.local;
                filename "pxelinux.0";
                server-name "myserver.home.local";

Check if present, xinetd/inetd config for tftpd.

service tftp
        disable         = no
        log_type        = SYSLOG daemon info
        log_on_access   = PID HOST USERID EXIT DURATION
        socket_type     = dgram
        protocol        = udp
        wait            = yes
        user            = root
        server          = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
        server_args     = -vv -s /path/to/tftpboot/
        bind            = IPofYourServer

The Windows way

On the Windows server, a combination of the free tools TFTPD32 (you'll only need the DHCP server!) and the SolarWinds TFTP server (because the built-in server of TFTPD32 does not work well with its DHCPD) has been proven to work.

Remember that both DHCP and TFTP servers should be running and there should not be another DHCP server in the same network.

Jedi-to-be has discovered that the TFTPD32-only setup works well too. See screenshots for details.

In case you have issues on certain hardware, try setting PXE Compatibility as seen in TFTP role configuration

See this video for demonstration by Jedi-to-be

The QEMU way

Add "-net nic -net user,bootfile=pxelinux.0,tftp=/path/to/tftpboot" to your usual QEMU command line.

The VirtualBox way

Note that to have it working, you must use NAT network configuration for your VM (virtual machine), and only one of the PCnet network cards. Otherwise, it won't work.

You must move your TFTP root directory into your personnal VBox directory using the name TFTP. For instance, in Linux, it would be in ~/.VirtualBox/TFTP For instance, in Windows 7, it would be in С:\Users\UserName\.VirtualBox\TFTP

You then must rename the pxelinux.0 file to VMName.pxe where VMName is the name of your VM in VBox. Then, in this TFTP directory, proceed as with any other TFTP configuration described upper.

For instance, if your VM is named "ROSPXE", your ~/.VirtualBox/TFTP will contain:

chain.c32  freeldr.ini  freeldr.sys  pxelinux.cfg/default  ReactOS-LiveCD.iso  ReactOS-BootCD.iso  ROSPXE.pxe


Try to boot your client computer via PXE. After some seconds, a RAM disk is loaded and ReactOS starts.