Sunday, October 4, 2009

Boot Linux Over HTTP With

This tutorial shows how you can boot Linux over HTTP with All that users need is Internet connectivity and a small program (gpxe) to boot the machine.

This gpxe program provides network booting facility. allows you to boot into the following distributions: Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu. provides gpxe images for USB sticks, CDs, and also for floppies, i.e., you can boot from a USB sticks, a CD, or a floppy.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

1 Getting

Go to and download the appropriate gpxe image. If you want to boot from a CD, just download the netbootme.iso file and burn it onto a CD, then boot from that CD. I want to use a USB stick here, so the procedure is a bit more complicated. I download the netbootme.usb file to my desktop:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

You should now find the netbootme.usb file on your desktop. Now plug in your USB stick - its icon should appear on the desktop as well:

Next open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal):

In the terminal, run

# mount

to find out the device name of your USB stick:

falko@falko-desktop:~$ mount

/dev/sda1 on / type ext3 (rw,relatime,errors=remount-ro)
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
proc on /proc type proc (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev)
sysfs on /sys type sysfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev)
varrun on /var/run type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
varlock on /var/lock type tmpfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev,mode=1777)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)
devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,noexec,nosuid,gid=5,mode=620)
fusectl on /sys/fs/fuse/connections type fusectl (rw)
lrm on /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/volatile type tmpfs (rw,mode=755)
securityfs on /sys/kernel/security type securityfs (rw)
binfmt_misc on /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc type binfmt_misc (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev)
gvfs-fuse-daemon on /home/falko/.gvfs type fuse.gvfs-fuse-daemon (rw,nosuid,nodev,user=falko)
/dev/sdf1 on /media/disk type vfat (rw,nosuid,nodev,uhelper=hal,shortname=mixed,uid=1000,utf8,umask=077,flush)


In my case, it's /dev/sfd (mount point /media/disk).

Before we can transfer the netbootme.usb image to the USB stick, we must unmount the USB stick. Right-click its icon on the desktop and select Unmount Volume...

... or run

# umount /media/disk

in the terminal.

Now we can transfer the netbootme.usb image to the USB stick as follows:

# sudo dd if=~/Desktop/netbootme.usb of=/dev/sdf

That's it! We can now boot another computer from the USB stick.

2 Booting From

Now insert your medium (USB stick, CD, floppy) into the computer that you want to boot from, and make sure that the medium is the first boot device in the computer's BIOS!

This is how the boot menu looks:

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To install a Linux distribution on the hard drive, go to Installers...

... and then Linux:

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The following distributions are currently available for installation: Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu.

In this case, I select Ubuntu...

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... and select the Ubuntu version that I want to install (make sure you select the right architecture for your computer (x86 or amd64)):

Click to enlarge will now download everything that's needed to start the Ubuntu installer from the Internet. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient. After the download has finished, the normal Ubuntu installer will start:

Click to enlarge also has a menu item Live OSes, ...

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... but it doesn't contain known Live distributions like Ubuntu or Fedora, but only rather unknown distributions like Tiny Core Linux and Micro Core Linux - probably not what you're looking for:

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3 Links

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