How to turn a PXE-incapable into a PXE booting computer for under €4.00

I wanted to start a computer using PXE which was not capable booting over the network (PXE). This computer also could not boot USB so my only alternatives were:

  • Put the PXE loader on a floppy and booting that — Hey! It’s 2014! What the hell is a floppy!?
  • Put the PXE loader on a CD and booting that — not much better than the floppy (… and increased power consumption while operating)
  • Put the PXE loader on a HDD and booting that — put, a HDD xx MB/GB HDD for loading a 1 MB boot image!? (… and increased power consumption while operating)

But wait! If we can boot from HDD we can boot from IDE! So let’s consider what we can boot instead of a HDD.

One of the cheapest solutions I found (and this is definite cheap enough) was buying an IDE CF card adapter and a tiny CF card (I got a 8 MB card). The adapter was incl. P&P just 1,26€ the card itself 1€ +1,50€ P+P so it was under 4€ is sum. I dumped ipxe.iso from rom-o-matic (https://rom-o-matic.eu/) using dd onto the card. Then I was able to boot the PC from that “IDE drive”, it loaded the pxe loader and voila: It did PXE. 🙂

So using this solution you can boot any PC using PXE no matter what BIOS (with or w/o PXE-support) not matter what NIC you are using as long your BIOS can boot from an IDE device and your NIC us supported by iPXE (is there any unsupported NIC!?)

 

IMG_20140827_190813 IMG_20140827_190846 IMG_20140827_193009

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