PXEboot install failing to load kernel

Erik Nørgaard norgaard at locolomo.org
Wed Apr 5 20:59:14 UTC 2006

Chris wrote:

> I am trying to perform a netboot install of FreeBSD 6  to a Thinkpad
> X40 laptop from linux on my desktop. I've followed what guides I can
> but the info is either for older versions of FreeBSD (the CD structure
> has changed?) or assumes an existing FreeBSD install to work from (for
> dissecting floppy images etc).

The assumption that you have some other existing FreeBSD installation
makes certain things easier: In particular compiling the loader with
tftp support, posibly creating a custom kernel and a memory file system.
If you can get hold of these from download, then you should be fine.

> I have downloaded the i386 bootonly iso and I have followed portions
> of several guides which has got me as far as tftp serving the pxeboot.
> I assume the dhcp and tftp parts are working ok as the laptop gets
> hold of pxeboot fine but then fails to load the kernel.

pxeboot can either attempt to fetch the kernel with tftp or nfs, (the
standard pxeboot does not support tftp).

If it doesn't get the kernel then either there is a misconfiguration so
it doesn't fetch it correctly with tftp or the nfs server is incorrectly

You should post the relevant part of your dhcpd.conf.

> I have tried nfs serving the boot directory of the cd and the kernel
> directory within that without any luck, is the kernel passed by tftp
> or nfs? I have tried tailing var/log/daemons but the failure to load
> kernel message on the laptop is the only useful indicator I get.

I would recommend to go without nfs: You can have pxeboot fetch kernel,
and the loader.* files as well as a memory filesystem using tftp. It's
easier to setup the server part, you have to setup tftp anyway and
already have it working, going for nfs just introduces an extra source
for errors.

I wrote down what I did when I tried to setup pxeboot, , you may have
found it - and yes, I do assume that you have a working FreeBSD for some
parts, but read on, it may not be relevant for you. Check out


I want to update this so let me know if there are any errors or things
that could be better explained.

Cheers, Erik
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