How to Configure a PXE Server in CentOS/RHEL 7

The Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) is an industry-standard client/server interface that allows networked computers that are not yet loaded with an operating system to be configured and booted remotely by an administrator. Let us work on CentOS/RHEL 7 to configure a PXE Server to boot and install CentOS/RHEL 7 OS in the client configuration. First setup Static IP Address for PXE server, this is important. you can edit the network configuration file or use nmcli command to setup. For setting up the static IP address click here to know more.

PXE Server configuration in RHEL 7

Check the details with nmcli command more information about the Network settings.

# nmcli con show eno16777736
nmcli command

Install vsftpd and createrepo packages into the server using YUM. this is to configure the software repo.

# yum install vsftpd createrepo
install vsftpd and createrepo

Mount the RHEL 7 DVD in the server to copy the packages required to configure software repo.

# mount -t iso9660 /dev/sr0 /mnt
Mount RHEL 7 DVD

Create a directory /rhel7/dvd/ under /var/ftp/pub to hold the dvd packages and copy the DVD contents to this directory.

# mkdir -p /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/
# cp -rv /mnt/* /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/
Create directory for RHEL 7 packages

Create yum client configuration file under /etc/yum.repos.d. Enter the following details.

create yum client configuration file

For running group commands like grouplist, groupinstall we need to copy *-comps-Server.x86_64.xml and using this file we need to update the metadata again using the following commands.

# cd /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/repodata/
# cp 76a190afa1c59e14d3a03f9b03c3eee31df0099f1193528ebb87d4d493d2b686-comps-Server.x86_64.xml /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/group-comps-Server.x86_64.xml
# createrepo -vg /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/group-comps-Server.x86_64.xml /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/
update the metadata using createrepo command createrepo update metadata centos 7

Test the yum configuration and yum group file settings using yum grouplist command.

test yum grouplist

Now install the Kickstart packages using YUM for configuring the kickstart input file.

install the Kickstart packages

Install Apache software into this server using YUM.

# yum install httpd
start vsftpd and httpd service

Now create a soft link of /var/ftp/pub into /var/www/html directory so that you can access this repository and installation tree using FTP or HTTP Protocol.

# ln -s /var/ftp/pub/ /var/www/html/

Update the SELINUX context for these directory using restorecon command.

# restorecon -Rv /var/ftp/pub/
# restorecon -Rv /var/www/html/

Start the service for vsftpd and httpd using following commands.

# systemctl start vsftpd
# systemctl start httpd
# systemctl enable vsftpd
# systemctl enable httpd
start httpd and vsftpd

Now create a kickstart file for unattended installation of CentOS/RHEL 7 OS. to create kickstart unattended file run “system-config-kickstart utility. Now you could see a window similar to the below. provide the required information and save it under /var/ftp/pub directory.

Create kickstart file system-config-kickstart

Another way to create kickstart file to copy the /root/anaconda-ks.cfg file to /var/ftp/pub and edit according to your requirement. Here is my kickstart file.

create anaconda-ks.cfg file

Now restart the vsftp and httpd services.

# systemctl restart vsftpd
# systemctl restart httpd
restart vsftpd and httpd services

Check whether you are able to access the ks.cfg using http. use firefox or links to check it.

# links

If it’s successful then you will get this screen.

acacess the ks.cfg using http

Now we need to install the packages for PXE boot. Install syslinux, xinetd, tftp-server, and DHCP using YUM.

# yum install syslinux xinetd tftp-server dhcp -y
Install syslinux, xinetd, tftp-server and dhcp using YUM

Create a directory pxe configuration directory named “pxelinux.cfg” in /var/lib/tftpboot.

# mkdir /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg
create pxe configuration directory pxelinux.cfg

Now copy the “/usr/share/syslinux/pxelinux.0” to “/var/lib/tftpboot” directory.

# cp /usr/share/syslinux/pxelinux.0 /var/lib/tftpboot/
copy pxelinux.0

Enable tftp service. edit the /etc/xinetd.d/tftp file and enable the xinetd configuration. This is used to provide pxe kernel to client.

Enable tftp service

Start and enable tftp server (xinetd) service. Run the following commands.

# systemctl start xinetd
# systemctl enable xinetd
Start and enable tftp server

Now configure DHCP service. This is used to give the IP address to clients. To configure DHCP copy the sample configuration from /usr/share/doc/dhcp-4.2.5/dhcpd.conf.example to /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf.

# cp /usr/share/doc/dhcp-4.2.5/dhcpd.conf.example /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf
configure DHCP service

Now edit the configuration file /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf and add the following lines.

allow booting;
allow bootp;

# This is a very basic subnet declaration.

subnet netmask {
  option routers;
  default-lease-time 21600;
  max-lease-time 43200;

# This declaration allows BOOTP clients to get dynamic addresses,
# which we don't really recommend.

subnet netmask {
  range dynamic-bootp;
  option broadcast-address;
  option routers;
  option domain-name "";
  default-lease-time 21600;
  max-lease-time 43200;
  filename "pxelinux.0";
edit dhcpd.conf

Restart the dhcpd service and enabled it using the following command.

# systemctl restart dhcpd
# systemctl enable dhcpd
Restart the dhcpd service and enabled it

Now copy the following files from CentOS/RHEL 7 to /var/lib/tftpboot/ for creating the PXE server.

# cd /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/images/pxeboot/
# cp initrd.img /var/lib/tftpboot/
# cp vmlinuz /var/lib/tftpboot/
# cp /usr/share/syslinux/menu.c32 /var/lib/tftpboot/
# cd /var/ftp/pub/rhel7/dvd/isolinux/
# cp -rvf * /var/lib/tftpboot/
PXE server configuration rhel centos

Now create a PXE boot menu. create a file named “default” under /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory. and add the following lines.

default vesamenu.c32
timeout 600
display boot.msg
menu background splash.png


label linux
  menu label ^Install System from PXE
  kernel vmlinuz
  append initrd=initrd.img ks= ksdevice=eno16777736 ip=dhcp

label local
  menu label Boot from ^local drive
  localboot 0xffff
create a PXE boot menu

Now restart the vsftpd and httpd service and not boot the client and check the configuration. You could see a below screen in the PXE client machine.

restart the vsftpd and httpd service

Select it and you would see that it starts installing the RHEL7.0 os on the client.

starts installing the RHEL7.0 os on the client

That’s all about the PXE server configuration. I hope you found this useful.