Configure PXE Booting on pfSense

PXE Booting on pfSense.docx

How to boot a bare metal server on LAN! Nowadays is pretty uncommon to setup a workstation/laptop, and installing a Linux distro using a CD is even less frequent. Today we had to setup a workstation that we use to run some tests – we need a a bare metal server for these tests – and none of us had an USB stick, neither a DVD Writer 🙂

Configure the Workstation

This step is easy: simply configure the workstation to boot from LAN!

Setup pfSense

pfSense is an open source firewall/router computer software distribution based on FreeBSD. It’s functionalities can be extended thanks to its plugin system

To use our pfSense box as a boot server, we need to

  • install a tftp server;

  • deploy a netboot image and ramdisk;

  • configure the DHCP server;

No worries, it is easier that it seems!

Install a tftp server

Open the pfSense admin dashboard and navigate to System -> Package Manager

In the Available
menu, search tftp.

Next, refresh the page and enable the TFTP server: Select Service -> TFTP
and check the Enable
TFTP Service

Upload a NetBoot image

We choosed to install Ubuntu 18.04. Find the URL where to download the netboot iso. In our case, the URL is and the image name is netboot.tar.gz.

The image must be uploaded in pfSense. Download the tar acrhive and uncompress it locally. Now you have to copy the contents o the tar archive in the root of yout tftp server. A simple way is to SSH in the pfSense box and to download and extract the tar archive directly in the /tftpboot directory.

Configure the DHCP

Set in the DHCP options the TFTP server and the image to use to boot theservers. Select Services -> DHCP
and scroll at the bottom of the page.

Set the following configurations:

  • TFTP Server AND Next server: the ip address of the pfSense box;

  • Default BIOS file name: the image youwant to use, pxelinux.0 in our case;

  • Enable the Enable
    network booting


That’s it! Now boot your workstation, and install the operating system!

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