Multi-OS PXE-booting from FreeBSD 12: PXE menu and *BSD (pt. 3)

[New to Gemini? Have a look at my Gemini FAQ.]

This article was bi-posted to Gemini and the Web; Gemini version is here: gemini://

Post 1 of this mini series is about what lead me to do this in the first place, features a little excursion for people new to PXE and details the setup of a FreeBSD router.
Post 2 discusses setting up the required daemons for DHCP, TFTP and HTTP / FTP. Each component that is not in FreeBSD’s base system is briefly discussed and two options to pick from are covered.

At the end of part 2, the situation is as follows: A client in the subnet attempting to PXE boot will get an IP address via DHCP and be told where to get the NPB (Network Bootstrap Program). It will then attempt to fetch it via TFTP. There’s just one problem: That is not there, yet! We’ll fix that in a minute. When we’re done here, you’ll have a fully working PXE server that offers multiple BSD operating systems to boot into (Linux and more are covered in part 4). This article focuses on BIOS (“legacy”) booting; if you want to boot EFI-only machines you’ll have to adapt the configuration examples given here to that. I also assume using HTTP here – if you opted for FTP you will have to adapt the commands used in the examples.

Network Bootstrap Program

There are a lot of NBPs available. Usually each operating system has its own which is tuned towards its specific duty: FreeBSD has one, OpenBSD has another and Linux has several. These are not ordinary programs; they need to cope with a very resource-constrained environment and cannot depend on any external libraries. While writing boot code is challenging enough, adding network booting capabilities doesn’t make things any easier. This is why most NBPs are as simple as possible.

As a result of that, the NBPs usually know how to boot exactly one operating system. Since we want to set up a multi-OS PXE server this is quite unfortunate for our use case. There are two ways to work around this problem:

  1. Provide various NBPs and use DHCP to distinguish between clients
  2. Use an NBP that supports a menu to select which one to boot next

As usual there’s pros and cons to both. Letting DHCP do the magic requires a much more complex DHCP configuration. It’s also much less flexible. The boot menu approach is simple and flexible, but more complicated if you are also interested in automation. I do like automation, but I decided in favor of using a boot menu for this article because it’s easier to follow. It is also a good achievement to build upon once you’re comfortable with DHCP and feel ready for advanced settings.

It is possible to use one NBP to fetch and execute another one. This process is known as chainloading. For some operating systems that is the best choice to add them to a menu system.

There’s three popular options that we have for an NBP which fits our needs:

2. PXELINUX (from Syslinux) and
3. iPXE

GRUB and I never made friends. I used it for a while after switching from LILO only to ditch it for Syslinux when I learned of that. I have to use it on many systems, but when I have a choice, I choose something else. The iPXE project is very interesting. It’s the most advanced (but also most involved) of the three options. If you’re curious about just how far you can take PXE booting, at least have a look at it. For this article, we’ll go with PXELINUX.


Pxelinux is available via packages on FreeBSD. It does pull in some dependencies that I don’t want on my system however. For that reason we’re going to fetch the package instead of installing it. Then we extract it manually:

# pkg fetch -y syslinux
# mkdir /tmp/syslinux
# tar -C /tmp/syslinux -xvf /var/cache/pkg/syslinux-6.03.txz

Now we can cherry-pick the required files:

# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/core/lpxelinux.0 /usr/local/tftpboot/pxelinux.0
# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/com32/elflink/ldlinux/ldlinux.c32  /usr/local/tftpboot/
# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/com32/menu/vesamenu.c32 /usr/local/tftpboot/
# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/com32/lib/libcom32.c32 /usr/local/tftpboot/
# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/com32/libutil/libutil.c32 /usr/local/tftpboot/
# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/com32/modules/pxechn.c32 /usr/local/tftpboot/
# cp /tmp/syslinux/usr/local/share/syslinux/bios/memdisk/memdisk /usr/local/tftpboot/
# rm -r /tmp/syslinux

The first one is the modular NBP itself. It requires some modules – the c32 files. The pxechn and memdisk modules are optional – they are required for some of the operating systems examples here but not all. You can leave them out if you don’t need them. Restart the inetd service now and you will be able to PXE boot to the menu:

# service inetd restart

Keep in mind: Restart the inetd service whenever you added a file to or edited any in the tftpboot directory!

Tip 1: You can use make use of gzipped files as Pxelinux supports that. This way you can decrease loading times by serving smaller images over the net.

Tip 2: I’m using gzip in my examples but if you really want to fight for the last byte, use zopfli instead. It’s a compression program that produces gzip-compatible output but takes much more processor time to create optimized archives. As decompression time is unaffected it’s a price you have to pay only once. Consider using it if you want the best results.


Pxelinux is hard-coded to load pxelinux.cfg/default via TFTP and use that as its configuration. If you plan to only use few of the OS examples shown here, that config is sufficient as you can put everything into there. Once you feel that your menu is becoming overly crowded, you can turn it into a main menu and make use of submenus to group things as I do it here. This works by putting the various OS entries in different config files.

If you don’t want submenus, skip the next step and put all the menu entries that go into something other than pxelinux.cfg/default in my examples right into that file instead – and leave out the reference back to the main menu since they don’t make any sense if you’re using a flat menu anyway.

In the previous post we already created the file /usr/local/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default. Append the following to it to create a submenu for the BSDs we’re covering today:

MENU TITLE PXE Boot Menu (Main)

LABEL bsd-oses
        MENU LABEL BSD Operating Systems
        KERNEL vesamenu.c32
        APPEND pxelinux.cfg/bsd

Now create the file referenced there:

# vi /usr/local/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/bsd

and put the following text in there:


LABEL main-menu
        MENU LABEL Main Menu
        KERNEL vesamenu.c32
        APPEND pxelinux.cfg/default

Alright, preparation work is done, let’s finally add some operating system data!

FreeBSD 12.2

PXE booting FreeBSD is actually not such an easy thing to do if you want to avoid using NFS shares. Fortunately there is mfsBSD, a project that provides tools as well as releases of special FreeBSD versions that can be booted over the net easily. We’re going to use that.

There are multiple variants for download: The standard one, the “special edition” and a “mini edition”. The special edition comes with the distribution tarballs on the ISO – you may want to use that one for installation purposes. If you just want a FreeBSD live system (e.g. for maintenance and repairs) or use you owr mirror (see below), the standard edition is for you since it is much smaller and thus boots way faster.

Let’s make the image available via HTTP:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/mfsbsd.iso
# gzip -9 /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/mfsbsd.iso

Now edit the pxelinux.cfg/bsd file and append:

LABEL fbsd-pxe-install
        MENU LABEL Install FreeBSD 12.2 (PXE)
        KERNEL memdisk
        APPEND iso raw

That’s it. You can now PXE-boot into FreeBSD.

Installation using mfsBSD

Login with user root and password mfsroot. It includes a “zfsinstall” script that you may want to take a look at. There’s a lot more to mfsBSD, though. Its tools allow you to easily roll your own customized images. If a way to include packages or files, use a custom-built kernel and things like that sounds like something that would be useful for you, take a closer look. I cannot go into more detail here – it’s a topic of its own and would deserve an entire article dedicated to it. In case you just want to use the familiar FreeBSD installer bsdinstall, read on.

Mirroring distfiles and fixing bsdinstall

If you want to install FreeBSD over PXE more than once, it makes sense to provide a local distfile mirror. Since we have a fileserver running anyway, there’s really nothing more to it than getting the distfiles and putting them into the right place. At the very minimum get the following three files:

# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/MANIFEST
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/base.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/kernel.txz

Depending on which distfiles you usually install, also get any or all of the following files:

# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/base-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/kernel-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/lib32-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/ports.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/src.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/fbsd/amd64/12.2-RELEASE/tests.txz

At this point in time, bsdinstall is broken on mfsBSD. The reason is that the distfile manifest is missing. I think about getting this fixed upstream, so in the future try and see if the following part is obsolete before using it. But for now, let’s create a simple shell script in the webroot directory for convenience:

# vi /usr/local/www/pxe/

Put the following into the script:

ARCH=`uname -m`
RELEASE=`uname -r | cut -d"-" -f1`
mkdir -p /usr/freebsd-dist
fetch${ARCH}/${RELEASE}-RELEASE/MANIFEST -o /usr/freebsd-dist/MANIFEST

Now if you PXE-booted mfsBSD and logged in as root, you just need to execute the following command line and will then be able to use the installer as you are used to it:

# fetch && sh

When you are to select the installation source, there is an “Other” button at the bottom of the window. Choose that and point to your distfile mirror – in my example Happy installing!

One more hint: You may want to look into the environment variables that bsdinstall(8) provides. I briefly attempted to automatically set the URL to the distfile mirror but couldn’t get it working. As I was already running out of time with this article I haven’t looked deeper into it. If anybody figures it out I’d appreciate sharing your solution here.

OpenBSD 6.8

Adding OpenBSD as an option is trivial. The project provides a ramdisk kernel used for installing the system and a NBP capable of loading it. Let’s get those two files in place – and while the ramdisk kernel is fairly small already, we can chop a couple of bytes off by compressing it:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd
# fetch -o /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd/pxeboot
# fetch -o /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd/6.8-amd64.rd
# gzip -9 /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd/6.8-amd64.rd

Now we only need to add the required lines to pxelinux.cfg/bsd:

LABEL obsd-pxe-install
        MENU LABEL Install OpenBSD 6.8 (PXE)
        KERNEL pxechn.c32
        APPEND bsd/obsd/pxeboot

That’s it, the OpenBSD loader can be booted! Since we don’t have the kernel in the assumed default location (“/bsd”) we’d need to tell the loader to “boot bsd/obsd/6.8-amd64.rd.gz”. The loader supports a configuration file, though. So for a little extra convenience we can make it pick up the kernel automatically like this:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/tftpboot/etc
# ln -s /usr/local/tftpboot/etc/boot.conf /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd/boot.conf
# echo "boot bsd/obsd/6.8-amd64.rd.gz" > /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd/boot.conf
# echo "# OpenBSD boot configuration" >> /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/obsd/boot.conf

The pxeboot program comes with the configuraton file name of etc/boot.conf hard-coded. To keep things a little cleaner in the hierarchy that I use, I chose to set a symlink in the obsd directory for reference purposes. And that’s all.

NetBSD 9.1

Let’s add NetBSD! It’s somewhat similar to OpenBSD – but a bit more involved unfortunately. The reason is that the NBP by default does not support a configuration file. It has the ability to use one, but that needs to be activated first. Which is fair enough since it’s only a single command – on NetBSD that is! But let’s worry about this in a minute and first get the NBP as well as the install kernel:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/nbsd
# fetch -o /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/nbsd/pxeboot_ia32.bin
# fetch -o /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/nbsd/netbsd-INSTALL.gz

Now we need to add the boot menu entry by adding the following lines to pxelinux.cfg/bsd:

LABEL nbsd-pxe-install
        MENU LABEL Install NetBSD 9.1 (PXE)
        KERNEL pxechn.c32
        APPEND bsd/nbsd/pxeboot_ia32.bin

This is sufficient to load and execute the NetBSD loader. That will then complain that it cannot find the kernel and no hints about NFS were given. Now we have three options:

  1. Manually point the loader to the correct kernel each time
  2. Give the required hint via DHCP
  3. Try to enable the loader configuration

Typing in “tftp:bsd/nbsd/netbsd-INSTALL.gz” is probably fair enough if you are doing NetBSD installs very rarely but it gets old quickly. So let’s try out option two!

Modifying DHCP config for NetBSD

The DHCP server needs to be configured to pass a different Boot File name option when answering the NetBSD loader than otherwise. This is done by matching class information. This topic is beyond the scope of this article, so if you are interested, do some reading on your own. I won’t leave you hanging, though, if you just need to get things working.

Here’s what you have to add to the configuration if you’re using Kea – for example right before the “loggers” section:

    "client-classes": [
            "name": "NetBSDloader",
            "test": "option[vendor-class-identifier].text == 'NetBSD:i386:libsa'",
            "boot-file-name": "tftp:bsd/nbsd/netbsd-INSTALL.gz"

And here the same thing if you are using DHCPd:

if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 17) = "NetBSD:i386:libsa" {
    if filename = "netbsd" {
        filename "tftp:bsd/nbsd/netbsd-INSTALL.gz";

Restart your DHCP server and you should be good to go.

After accomplishing the easy way via DHCP, I also went down to explore the boot.cfg road but ultimately failed. I’m documenting it here anyway in case somebody wants to pick up where I decided to leave it be.

Enabling boot.cfg in the loader

To mitigate the risk of polluting my main system by doing something stupid I chose to do all of this using my unprivileged user. The first thing I did, was fetching and extracting the basic NetBSD 9.1 sources:

% mkdir -p netbsd-9.1 && cd netbsd-9.1
% fetch
% tar xvzf src.tgz

The sources for the installboot program we’re looking for are in usr/src/usr.sbin/installboot. I tried to get that thing to build by pointing the compiler at additional include directories and editing quite some header files, hoping to resolve the conflicts with FreeBSD’s system headers and problems like that. It can probably be done but that would take a C programmer – which I am not.

Fortunately NetBSD is the portability star among the BSDs and should be buildable on many other systems. I’ve never done this before but here was the chance. So I installed CVS and checked out the rest of the NetBSD src module:

% doas pkg install -y cvs
% cd netbsd-9.1/usr
% cvs -d checkout -r netbsd-9-1-RELEASE -P src

When exploring the source tree, I found a build script that obviously does all the magic required here. Be warned however that this builds a full cross-toolchain including the complete GCC compiler! Then it builds the “tools” subset of the NetBSD code (which includes the installboot that we’re looking for). On my old and slow Atom-based system this process took 6 hours:

% cd src
% ./ -U -m amd64 -T ~/nbsd tools
===> command:    ./ -U -m amd64 -T /home/kraileth/nbsd tools
===> started:    Thu Feb  3 00:13:41 CET 2021
===> NetBSD version:      9.1
===> MACHINE:             amd64
===> MACHINE_ARCH:        amd64
===> Build platform:      FreeBSD 12.2-RELEASE-p1 amd64
===> HOST_SH:             /bin/sh
===> No $TOOLDIR/bin/nbmake, needs building.
===> Bootstrapping nbmake
checking for sh... /bin/sh
checking for gcc... cc


install ===> config
#   install  /home/kraileth/nbsd/bin/nbconfig
mkdir -p /home/kraileth/nbsd/bin
/home/kraileth/nbsd/bin/amd64--netbsdelf-install -c  -r -m 555 config /home/kraileth/nbsd/bin/nbconfig
===> Tools built to /home/kraileth/nbsd
===> ended:      Thu Feb  3 6:26:25 CET 2021
===> Summary of results: command:    ./ -U -m amd64 -T /home/kraileth/nbsd tools started:    Thu Feb  4 07:13:41 CET 2021
         NetBSD version:      9.1
         MACHINE:             amd64
         MACHINE_ARCH:        amd64
         Build platform:      FreeBSD 12.2-RELEASE-p1 amd64
         HOST_SH:             /bin/sh
         No $TOOLDIR/bin/nbmake, needs building.
         Bootstrapping nbmake
         MAKECONF file:       /etc/mk.conf (File not found)
         TOOLDIR path:        /home/kraileth/nbsd
         DESTDIR path:        /usr/home/kraileth/netbsd-9.1/usr/src/obj/destdir.amd64
         RELEASEDIR path:     /usr/home/kraileth/netbsd-9.1/usr/src/obj/releasedir
         Created /home/kraileth/nbsd/bin/nbmake
         Updated makewrapper: /home/kraileth/nbsd/bin/nbmake-amd64
         Tools built to /home/kraileth/nbsd ended:      Thu Feb  4 12:26:25 CET 2021
===> .

The “-U” flag enables some trickery to build as an unprivileged user. With “-m” you specify the target architecture (I did use i386 but modified the above lines as that will be what most people will want to use instead!). Finally the “-T” switch allows to specify the installation target directory and the “tools” is the make target to use.

When it was done, I did the following (as root):

# cp /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/nbsd/pxeboot_ia32.bin /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/nbsd/pxeboot_ia32.bin.bak
# /usr/home/kraileth/netbsd-9.1/usr/src/tools/installboot/obj/installboot -eo bootconf /usr/local/tftpboot/bsd/nbsd/pxeboot_ia32.bin

This should enable the boot config file on the pxeboot loader. It does change the file and probably even makes the right change. I tried to enable module support via installboot, too and that obviously worked (the NFS module was loaded the next time I chainloaded the NetBSD loader). But for some reason I could not get boot.cfg to do what I wanted. Probably I don’t understand the file properly…

While it’s a bit disappointing to stop so close to the goal, messing with NetBSD so much already took much more time away from the other BSDs than I had imagined. And since I could at least offer a working way this was when I decided to move on.

DragonFly BSD

I attempted to get DragonFly BSD to work but failed. I briefly tried out a setup that includes NFS shares but it didn’t work completely either: Kernel booted but failed to execute /sbin/init for some reason or another. Also I don’t really want to cover NFS in this series – there’s enough material in here already. And without NFS… Well, DragonFly BSD has the same problem that FreeBSD has: It will boot the kernel but then be unable to mount the root filesystem.

While I guess that the mfsBSD approach could likely work for DF, too, this is something much more involved than reasonable for our topic here. I would really like to cover DragonFly here, too, but that’s simply a bit too much. If anybody knows how to get it working – please share your knowledge!

HardenedBSD 12-STABLE

HardenedBSD being a FreeBSD fork, inherited the same characteristics as vanilla FreeBSD. Which means that PXE booting the standard images is not an easy thing to do. HardenedBSD uses the same installer, bsdinstall however and for that reason it’s possible to install HardenedBSD by using mfsBSD as prepared above in the FreeBSD section. We only need to point the installer to a different distfile mirror. Let’s create that one now:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/MANIFEST
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/base.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/kernel.txz

As with FreeBSD, there are some optional distfiles you may or may not want to mirror, too. Provide what you need for your installations:

# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/base-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/kernel-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/src.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/hbsd/amd64/12-STABLE/tests.txz

Now we’re creating a convenience script for HardenedBSD:

# vi /usr/local/www/pxe/

Put the following into the script:

ARCH=`uname -m`
MAJOR=`uname -r | cut -d"." -f1`
mkdir -p /usr/freebsd-dist
fetch${ARCH}/${MAJOR}-STABLE/MANIFEST -o /usr/freebsd-dist/MANIFEST

Now fire up mfsBSD, login as root and simply run the following command line to start the installer:

# fetch && sh

Select the “Other” button when asked for the installation source. Choose that and point to your distfile mirror – in my example And that’s it.

MidnightBSD 2.0

Since MidnightBSD is a FreeBSD fork as well, it also suffers from the well-known problems related to PXE booting. Again mfsBSD comes to the rescue. Let’s create the distfile mirror first:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/MANIFEST
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/base.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/kernel.txz

Pick any or all of the remaining optional distfiles to be mirrored, too, if you need them:

# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/lib32.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/doc.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/base-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/kernel-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/lib32-dbg.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/src.txz
# fetch -o /usr/local/www/pxe/bsd/mbsd/amd64/2.0-RELEASE/mports.txz

And here’s the convenience script:

# vi /usr/local/www/pxe/

Put the following into it:

ARCH=`uname -m`
mkdir -p /usr/freebsd-dist
fetch${ARCH}/${RELEASE}-RELEASE/MANIFEST -o /usr/freebsd-dist/MANIFEST

Now you can PXE-boot mfsBSD as prepared in the FreeBSD section. After logging in as root execute the following command line that will take you to the installer:

# fetch && sh

When given the choice to select the installation source make sure to select “Other” and point to the right URL – in my example it would be, then install the OS as you’re used to.

Watch out for some options in the installer, though! MidnightBSD is mostly on par with FreeBSD 11.4. If you enable e.g. newer hardening options that the installer knows but the target OS doesn’t, you might run into trouble (not sure, tough, I didn’t think of this until after my test installation).

What’s next?

I didn’t plan this post to get that long, especially NetBSD surprised me. Eventually I decided to cover HardenedBSD and MidnightBSD as well and accept that this is a BSD-only article. So the next one will add various Linuxen and other operating systems to the mix.

12 thoughts on “Multi-OS PXE-booting from FreeBSD 12: PXE menu and *BSD (pt. 3)

  1. Pingback: Multi-OS PXE-booting from FreeBSD 12: Introduction (pt. 1) | eerielinux

  2. Pingback: Multi-OS PXE-booting from FreeBSD 12: Required services (pt. 2) | eerielinux

  3. Pingback: Multi-OS PXE-booting from FreeBSD 12: Linux, illumos and more (pt. 4) | eerielinux

  4. So i’m at the point where i’m creating my /usr/local/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg/default file and I drop the part of freebsd-pxe-boot in there. I try to pxeboot to the mfsbsd live CD and it won’t work. I am “MEMDISK: No ramdisk image specified.”

    This is the contents of the file

    LABEL fbsd-pxe-install
    MENU LABEL Install FreeBSD 12.2 (PXE)
    kernel memdisk
    APPEND iso raw

    And the contents of the folder.

    @pxe99:/usr/local/tftpboot $ ls -la
    total 391
    drwxr-xr-x 6 root wheel 13 Mar 8 20:28 .
    drwxr-xr-x 14 root wheel 14 Mar 8 16:57 ..
    drwxr-xr-x 19 root wheel 21 Mar 8 19:58 bios
    drwxr-xr-x 9 root wheel 11 Mar 8 19:58 efi32
    drwxr-xr-x 9 root wheel 11 Mar 8 19:58 efi64
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 122308 Mar 8 20:24 ldlinux.c32
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 186500 Mar 8 20:25 libcom32.c32
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 24148 Mar 8 20:25 libutil.c32
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 26140 Mar 8 20:40 memdisk
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 12644 Mar 8 20:28 pxechn.c32
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 46909 Mar 8 20:22 pxelinux.0
    drwxr-xr-x 2 root wheel 3 Mar 8 20:46 pxelinux.cfg
    -rw-r–r– 1 root wheel 27104 Mar 8 20:24 vesamenu.c32

    What did I do wrong?

    I have this working on CentOS to boot CentOS but can’t make it work on FreeBSD 12.2 to boot other OSes.


  5. Hi Andrew,

    from looking at your comment, I’d say that the problem is the INITRD= line. If you don’t specify “http://” or “ftp://”, Pxelinux will assume implicit TFTP use. Unless that’s what you want to do, your line needs to explicitly state a different protocol.

    But even if you TFTP is what you want, remember that /usr/local/tftpboot on the PXE host is the root of your TFTP server. If you remove the leading slash in your INITRD= line, Pxelinux will try to fetch from what would locally be /usr/local/tftpboot/var/ftp/pub/iso/mfsbsd-12.2-RELEASE-amd64.iso.

    If you are trying to load the ISO via FTP and the FTP root dir on your PXE server is /var/ftp, then try the following line:

    • Ok here is what I have in my pxelinug.cfg.
      My tftproot is set to /opt/kickstart/tftpboot

      label Install FreeBSD 12.2 mfsBSD (PXE)
      menu label Install FreeBSD 12.2 (PXE)
      kernel memdisk
      append iso raw

      Here are the results.

      The logs aren’t showing enough.

    • Glad to hear that it works for you now! About autoinstall: I actually wanted to investigate and write about that in a future article. No promises about when or if this ever happens, though!

      • Well I hope you look into it soon! I have done some research on it. I have 2 scripts from other people already. But need to figure out how to tweak it so that I can 1) install using ZFS 2) separate out my partitions and install specific packages.

  6. Pingback: Multi-OS PXE-booting from FreeBSD 12 (3) | 0ddn1x: tricks with *nix

  7. Pingback: FreeBSD router take 2 (pt. 1): OPNsense ZFS-based installation (by converting FreeBSD) | eerielinux

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