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When PXE ( Preboot Execution Environment) doesn't work as expected, searching for cryptic error codes on ServerFault and restarting the client machine repeatedly to see if anything changed is not really a pleasant activity.

I'm sure there is a magic tool for Linux which passes itself for a PXE client and attempts to discover the DHCP server, loads stuff through TFTP and does all the ordinary magic any PXE client will do for real until it actually starts installing the operating system.

Unfortunately, searching for such client leads me only to resources which explain either how to setup a PXE server, or how to troubleshot it. What I actually want is:

  • To avoid powering on/off an actual machine. A workaround would be to run a virtual machine, but unfortunately I can't find a way to enable support for PXE.

  • To obtain, when a error occurs, a humanly readable error that doesn't require advanced knowledge of inner workings of PXE. For instance, if the tool cannot find a DHCP server, where was it looking for the servers (IP range)? What was it expecting? Have it pinged some machines but none answered on UDP 67/68?

Is there such client?

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I would suggest checking out Vargant which will let you start a VM including PXE based ones and test the installation process without restarting hardware.

There are a number of articles available on the use of Vagrant & PXE such as this .

Vagrant-PXE may well be a good starting point for you.

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