Windows XP PXE installation

This guide provides an easy and relatively quick way to PXE boot windows which means you can install Windows over the network with PXE without the need for a CD drive. This will just install a vanilla XP, nice and simple.

Step 1: Getting started.

What you’ll need:

  1. Windows 2000/XP CD (to get the i386 directory off it)
  2. PC running 2000/XP (to act as a server)
  3. Laptop capable of booting over PXE (such as the L400).
  4. Tftpd32
  5. Bart Network Boot Disk
  7. A Share. The Server must be able to share files (any Microsoft Windows computer can).
  8. Working router or plain crossover cable.

Once you’ve collected all of the above, lets begin;

  1. Create a share, for the sake of argument create it at c:WINSTALL
  2. Copy your i386 folder and SMARTDRV.EXE into this folder
  3. Make a note of your computer name/host name, you can find this out by right clicking on “My Computer”, going to properties, go to “Computer Name” tab, look under Full computer name, in my example, the computers name is STAR, i believe the name needs to be 12 chars or less for this to work in dos mode, so if its longer change it and reboot.
  4. Create a folder to PXE boot from, c:OUTPUT

Step 2: Setting up a TFTP Server.

  1. Install TFTPD
  2. Create the following directory c:OUTPUTpxelinux.cfg
  3. In the c:OUTPUT directory download pxelinux.0 memdisk menu.c32 bartdisk.IMA
  4. In the C:OUTPUTpxelinux.cfg directory, create a text file that you’ll name default, (not default.txt) containing:
  5. Launch TFTPD and configure it the following way:
  6. Tip : if you close and reopen TFTP32 and the Current Directory defaults to your home directory rather than to C:OUTPUT, right-click your TFTPD32 shortcut, go to Properties, and set the Start in textbox as C:OUTPUT.
  7. switch to the tab “DHCP Server” and fill in your network setup. Note that the PC you want to boot must be in the same Subnet. Enter pxelinux.0 as the boot file. The Screenshot below shows my setup.
  8. Dont forget to SAVE.

Step 3: Installing Windows.

  1. Boot laptop
  2. Select Bart Network Disk
  3. Just accept all the default values this time
  4. Type fdisk
  5. Choose option 3 and delete any partitions
  6. Choose option 1 to create a partition, then 1 again to create a primary dos partition
  7. If you wish to create 2 partitions, 1 for the windows installation and 1 for data then select N for using maximum available size
  8. Select your drive size in MB, i chose 8198 for mine
  9. Esc back to the options menu, then select option 2 to make a partition active
  10. select partition number, probably 1 as was the case for me
  11. Esc out of fdisk and restart the laptop
  12. Select Bart Network Disk again
  13. Accept defaults up until “Identification Settings”, tab accross till you come to the lmhosts option, and pless the spacebar to enable it, then go to Ok.
  14. In the blank file that opens up type the ip of your server, followed by tab and its host name, in my case it looked like:
  15. Press Alt + X to save the file and quit
  16. Just press enter through any other questions to accept the defaults
  17. When you get to the command promt type: format c: /Q
  18. When that finishes type net use x: \HOSTNAMESHARE so in my case i typed net use x: \STARWINSTALL
  19. type x:
  20. type SMARTDRV.EXE
  21. type cd i386
  22. type winnt
  23. It will now copy the files from the share onto your harddrive and start the windows install, at this point its worth closing tftpd32 if you havent already so u dont accidentally boot back into the boot floppy on reboot,
  24. Perform a normal windows install, enjoy
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  1. Faurman  January 25, 2010

    thanks man for a such good guide 🙂

  2. Kevin George  January 22, 2010

    Hi dave,
    I owe you big time, this saved me a ton of work. Had a laptop with a faulty CD-rom and would not take a usb rom or anyother usb device. This guide was idiot prof excellent work.

    The only thing i would say is i had to rename the memdisk download file from ‘memdisk.txt'(when you click the link and download it) to ‘memdisk’ otherwise perfect step by step. Once again you saved my day. Thank You and God bless

    Kevin G

  3. Ravi  December 22, 2009

    Hi Dave,

    I just wanted to say thanks to you for this wonderful article. I ran into a problem where BartPE.ima did not have drivers for my Realtek network card. I then did some googling and I found WinImage. Using WinImage I injected the Realtek drivers from Barts website.

    Thanks again for this helpful article.


  4. admin  December 21, 2009

    I haven’t used this quide in a while but if you followed the guide and used “C:WINSTALL” as the installer directory, you will probably need to use the true administrator credentials since this directory is in the root of the drive. You should be able to enter this info during step 3 in identification settings. If your administrator account does not have a password you will need to set one.

  5. tasran  December 21, 2009

    No doubt it is a nice guide. However, I get message “Access Denied” when i issue NET USE Command. After issuing the command it requires a password. When I give one. It says access denied. Any Help?

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