[ipxe-devel] PXE in a large corporate environment

Mark.Bannister at rbs.com Mark.Bannister at rbs.com
Tue Apr 19 11:56:19 UTC 2011

Hi Michael,

This is all very interesting, thank you.

How much of what has been implemented in iPXE is compliant with the exact wording of PXE-2.1, and how much of it is an extension that isn't really covered in any specification but was introduced separately during the Etherboot/gPXE/iPXE lifecycles?  I ask this because, as you know, PXE-2.1 is not an open standard, it's an Intel copyrighted spec that hasn't changed since 1999.  Intel are focused now on UEFI PXE, which I'm already learning through discussions with them has its own set of stumbling blocks to adoption (such as requiring 64-bit types).

Do you think that ultimately, iPXE will have to move away from PXE-2.1 and embrace a new standard?  And what will that standard be?  UEFI PXE?  Or something else?

Will vendors with gPXE firmware be looking to move to iPXE, and do you think they see this as a long-term proposition or an intermediate one until UEFI PXE becomes more viable?


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Brown [mailto:mbrown at fensystems.co.uk] 
Sent: 18 April 2011 13:22
To: ipxe-devel at lists.ipxe.org
Cc: Bannister, Mark, GBM
Subject: Re: [ipxe-devel] PXE in a large corporate environment

On Monday 18 Apr 2011 12:39:45 Mark.Bannister at rbs.com wrote:
> I posted some suggestions for improvement to the PXE specification to 
> the  DHC mailing list earlier this month:
> http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/dhcwg/current/msg11581.html
> I'm interested to know if the problems I'm trying to solve can be 
> addressed  in iPXE?

Several of them can be addressed quite easily.

The system UUID is already transmitted by iPXE (and by any compliant PXE

The "PXE environment" field that you describe is functionally equivalent to the DHCP user class, which is already supported by iPXE and by most DHCP servers.  
For example: in iPXE:

  iPXE> set user-class fileserver
  iPXE> autoboot

and in /etc/dhcpd.conf

  if option user-class = "fileserver" {
    ... boot options for "fileserver" class of machines ...

Both ISC dhcpd and the Microsoft DHCP server already support per-user-class configuration, so there would be no additional programming required.

On network cards that support non-volatile stored options, you can configure the user class semi-permanently using either the "config" UI, which is
(partially) documented at


or using the command line:

  set net0.nvo/user-class fileserver

Another possibility is to use values extracted from SMBIOS, such as the system asset tag, e.g. by setting the boot filename to



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