May 102011

Hi All,

In Part 3, we will install Debian Squeeze using our new PXE server.

Quicklinks :
Part 1
Part 2

First thing we’ll need is the network boot tarball off the Debian Website.


This tarball will let you start installing Debian, but it will then install the rest of the software from the internet. Naturally this means that the computer will need an Internet connection to get the most out of this method.

After you get the tarball, you’ll need to uncompress it, and grab a couple of files out of it, namely linux and initrd.gz and put them into a subdirectory under tftpboot called debian, so you should end up with a directory like this : /tftpboot/debian which should contain the 2 files linux and initrd.gz

Now that we have the files in the right spot, we will need to create a new entry in the /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default file.
So at the moment, we have this in the file.

DEFAULT menu.c32

LABEL Memtest4.10
MENU LABEL Memtest86+ 4.10
kernel boot/memtest86+

We will need to add a code block to give us the option to boot to the Debian mini installer.

LABEL DebSqueeze
MENU LABEL Debian Squeeze 6.0.1a Net Install
kernel debian/linux
append initrd=debian/initrd.gz

So the configuration file should look like this in the end :

Once that’s done, you should be able to boot from the PXE server like previously with the Memtest kernel, except it will be loading the Debian Net install files.

Once it’s loaded, you will get this screen –

Which looks exactly like it does as if the computer was booted from a CD.
You can now install Debian straight from the network without the use of a CD.


  16 Responses to “How To : Setup a PXE Boot Server Part 3 : Installing Debian Squeeze”

  1. Hello!
    Thx for the nice guide it worked very good 🙂

  2. Hi,
    everithing goes fine till I need choose mirror or debian archive. I got error that bad mirro archive whaterver I choose same erro shows again.
    Maybe someon got Idea how to fix it?
    Thanks in advance!

    • So from the 2 comments, I take it that you got the default config file setup ok ?

      What’s the exact error message when it says the mirror failed ?
      Have you tried mirror in another location or country ?
      Does the computer have internet access when you boot from something else ? e.g. a DVD ?

      • Hi,
        I sort it out first situation with default folder. I just forgot that I need directory not file. 🙂
        And with second coment (situation) I have no luck at all.

        OK my setup:
        I run pxe server on vmware. Yes I solver my problem with default config file.
        Then I start new machine without any OS on vmware.
        On same vmware server is working ispconfig3 I dont know is it affecting pxe server or no.
        So I start new machine.
        1.Start pxe boot.
        2.Choose Debian Squeeze 6.0.1a Net install from the PXE boot menu.
        3.Select language
        4.Select location ( UK)
        5.Select keyboard layout.
        6.Hostname: –>I writed testmachine instead debian.
        7.Domain: left blank
        8.Debian archive mirror country: I choosed United Kingdom ( also tried with NL, USA, Germany and etc. Got same error with all).
        9.Choosed mirror ftp address
        10.http proxy information: left blank.
        11. And then red screen and tex on it:

        Bad archve mirror
        An error has been detected while trying to use specified debian archive address.
        Possible reasons for the error are: incorrect mirror specified;
        mirror is not available (possibly due to unreliable network connection); mirror is broaken (for example because an invalid Release file was found); mirror does not support the correct Debian version.

        Additional detale may be available in /var/log/syslog or on virtual console 4.

        Please check specified mirror or trye diferent one.

        So this is what I got. I tryed loads of diferet mirrors and with all same problem. I am realy stuck on it.



        • Hi Rim

          If you’re running this on VMWare, you need to make sure that the virtual machine can access the internet, if it can’t then it won’t be able to contact the mirrors.

          How is the network setup in your VMWare environment ?
          Do you have it setup as an internal network only ?
          Your PXE server that you have setup, is it setup with one NIC or two NICs ?

          If it’s only setup with one NIC then you will need to add a second one and setup routing on that server in order for the PXE clients to access the internet.

          • Hi SirLagz,

            All virtual machines on my vmware server can access internet. I setup loads of debian machines (web, mail or ftp servers) and all accessing internet.
            PXE server can access internet as well. I done apt-get update and apt-get upgrade also installed packets from your How To post also downloaded debian netboot install for pxe server.

            I am not very good in that but I think my pxe running with one NIC.
            When I setup vmware machine I choose one network card and my pxe server network interface /etc/network/interfaces looks like that:

            # The loopback network interfaces
            auto lo
            iface lo inet loopback

            # The primary network interface
            #allow-hotplug eth0
            auto eth0
            iface eth0 inet static

            Probably I need add second NIC? If yes how I can do that? And how it should be setuped?

  3. OOOPS probably there was my typo misstake on /etc/network/interfaces. Now everything ok with debian archives.

    I don’t know maybe you can advise me how to swich boot distribution?
    I need to install DSL 4.4.10 instead squeeze.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Rim,

      Glad to hear you solved that issue.
      I will need to look into DSL 4.4.10 but you can try just putting the ISO file and using Memdisk to boot the ISO and see how that goes.
      I’ll post up a quick guide to DSL later on for you 🙂


      • Thank you SirLagz so much! Yours how to was only one which start work for me. I am so glad that I found it.
        I will wait for DSL guide.
        Thank you and have a good day!

        • No Problems, Happy to help a fellow linux user 🙂
          Thanks for reading my blog 🙂

          Have a good day to you too.

  4. I read more of your posts and done xpud, tiny core and everything works fine for me. I try to setup DSL linux myself but no luck 🙂

    I got neoware Eon and would like to install debian on it to make NAS or small ftp, web server.
    My neoware Eon have only 8MB flash memory so there is really not easy for me to do that. I googled that someone successfully installed DSL on it.
    I got NSLU2 with debian armel inside and it works perfect for me like NAS.

    • Thanks for reading 🙂

      It’ll be hard to even fit DSL on as DSL is 50 MB base. I guess you could strip it down and see how you far you get.
      I’m having a look at DSL now so I can see if I can PXE boot it 🙂

  5. ok for anybody reading,any idea if it will work on RaspberryPi Debian?
    Im trying today.

    • Should work, I don’t see any foreseeable difficulties in running it on the Raspberry Pi, except network speed may be a bit slower depending on how you have it set up.

Leave a Reply to Rim Cancel reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.