Serva PXE - AN02: Debian Install

Network install Debian Lenny (5.04) without an Internet connection.

The idea is being able to perform a network installation but not requiring of an Internet connection. The install can be performed on a real PC or in a virtual environment (VMware). I tried this last method.

For an automated PXE approach please see Serva PXE/BINL - AN03: Non-Windows Boot/Install

Required software:
debian-504-i386-CD-1.iso (other versions could also work)
Serva 2.0 or higher

1- The hardware lay-out is very simple;

  1. Server PC running Serva32 offers the Debian CD/DVD + PXE
  2. Target PC net boots (PXE client) and installs Debian


2- The Debian ISO image can be downloaded and burned on a CD/DVD or just mounted using Daemon Tools. For the purposes of this application note let's consider it is being offered as drive G: on the Server.

3- Unix install images are made with Rock Ridge extensions allowing longer file names, symbolic link support, and other features not included on the Microsoft's chosen ISO-9660-Joliet standard. For this reason we need a couple of workarounds; Let's extract on the Server HDD

extract Lenny-netboot.rar  to  C:\netboot\

4- Let's configure Serva32. The IPs offered by the DHCP service belong to the network that link the Serva32 Server and the Target PC. Router and DNS IPs are set to the IP of the Serva32 interface that connects to the Target PC.





5- Let's boot the PXE enabled PC or a VMware install without DHCP nor NAT enabled.



6- follow the normal install until this screen; Choose a mirror of the Debian achive

then press Home (enter information manually) and type as Debian mirror the name of the computer running Serva32 obtained from the Server control Panel

7- We change the default /debian/ option for just /


8-The install continues normally... Serva32 Log windows give a good idea about what's going on behind scenes.

9- Now the base system is downloaded from Serva32 HTML service, configured, and installed.

10-We are invited to create the default user and later to install additional packages.

11-We're finished. Everything network installed but w/o an Internet connection.


Who said installing Debian was tough?


No IP assignation allowed (proxyDHCP)

There are situations where we want to use PXE install but we cannot disturb the network with IP assignations because the network already has a DHCP server. On theses cases running our Serva DHCP service is not an option; we need Serva's proxyDHCP service instead.
When proxyDHCP is selected Serva's DCHP service remains silent except for providing the bootfile name and the TFTP server IP address to PXE clients.