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trying to build a NetBSD PXE installer with pxelinux
A while ago, a started to build a PXE server using a NetBSD computer at home.
My main goal is to use PXE to boot several operating system installers for x86
and x86_64, including some Linux distributions and of course, NetBSD.
For my tests, I mainly use virtual machines. To be precise, I use VirtualBox on
a Linux or OS X host.
When I started this project, I used NetBSD 5 on the server, and upgraded it
later. Today, it runs NetBSD 6.1 amd64 with a DOM0 Xen setup (this should be
irrelevant, right ?).
This is a surprise for nobody, I went with Pxelinux to get my setup working.
The server acts as secondary DHCP and DNS server. It runs an HTTP server
(bozohttpd included in the base system), a tftp server (also from the base
system) and an NFS share (read-only, it shares the same directory as the HTTP
server). My directory structure on the server is the following :
- /srv/www/ is shared by tftp,httpd and NFS, and is the "root-path" in
- /srv/www/pub/ contains the mirror for the distributions, each one has its
- /srv/www/syslinux-6.01/ is the directory containing the syslinux distribution
- /srv/www/syslinux is a symbolic link to syslinux-6.01
- /srv/www/NetBSD/ is a mirror of the NetBSD 5.x and 6.x releases, for i386 and
amd64 only ;
- /srv/www/pxelinux.cfg/ has pxelinux configuration, with the configuration
sitting in the "default" file ;
- /srv/www/ also includes a boot.cfg file, a pxeboot_ia32.bin file (with
modules and boot.cfg enabled).
root@arreat:/srv/www# ls -hl
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 1,6K Aug 24 22:25 boot.cfg*
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 39B Jul 21 13:15 chain.c32@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 34B Jul 21 13:16 gpxelinux.0@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 35B Jul 21 13:16 gpxelinuxk.0@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 51B Jul 21 13:18 ldlinux.c32@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 40B Jul 21 13:31 libcom32.c32@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 43B Jul 21 13:32 libutil.c32@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 39B Jul 21 16:04 mboot.c32@ ->
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 33B Jul 21 13:34 memdisk@ ->
drwxr-xr-x 27 root wheel 1,0K Aug 19 13:28 pub/
-rw-r--r-- 1 root wheel 52K Aug 4 21:56 pxeboot_ia32.bin
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 33B Jul 21 13:14 pxelinux.0@ ->
drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 512B Aug 25 12:47 pxelinux.cfg/
lrwxr-xr-x 1 root wheel 41B Jul 21 13:16 vesamenu.c32@ ->
I may have complicated the setup by wanting to upgrade syslinux without
When using NetBSD 5 (5.0 to 5.2 included), I can configure Pxelinux to load the
boot.iso file, using this kind of configuration :
MENU LABEL Install NetBSD 5.2 amd64
However, when using this configuration to load a NetBSD 6 boot.iso file, the
kernel asks for a boot and a root device. Since it's in memory, I did not know
what to type in to get the installation going. Further more, the behavior
changes a little bit wether there is a CD-ROM drive on the PXE client
After the installation ISO, I went to the installation image disk. I used this
MENU LABEL Install NetBSD 6.1 amd64 from disk image
I got the same error, suggesting to use one of wm0, wd0[a-p], ddb, halt or
I then tried to load the installation kernel. My Google search got me this kind
(from http://www.syslinux.org/archives/2008-February/009898.html) :
But I get the following error : "Invalid Multiboot image: neither ELF header
nor a.out kludge found".
Trying to directly boot with netbsd-INSTALL.gz did not work (Pxelinux loads it
but then no message and the PXE menu is still here).
After that, I wanted to chain Pxelinux and the NetBSD PXE bootloader
I first configured a NetBSD-only installer, and wrote a quite complete boot.cfg
in order to boot each i386 and amd64 installer kernel. I replaced pxelinux.0
with pxeboot_ia32.bin in dhcpd.conf, and it worked quite well.
However, when I went back to Pxelinux and chained pxeboot_ia32.bin like
explained in the wiki, it did not work.
The pxeboot_ia32.bin is downloaded, and so is boot.cfg (read requests in
/var/log/messages are successful). I then get a DHCP discover, a DHCP offer, a
request then ACK and nothing for about 10 seconds. Then it starts again with
the DHCP discover and offer.
The configuration for the chain is the following :
MENU LABEL NetBSD PXE installer
(I tried KERNEL, BOOT and PXE directives since
http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/SYSLINUX#KERNEL_file suggests it for
bootstrap and PXE network bootstrap programs)
What did I miss ? What log file did I forget to check ? What did I misconfigure
? Where can I add some debug or verbose options ?
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