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PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - Printable Version

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PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - jeffshead - 03-31-2024

Is there a way to PXE boot computers if their firmware does not support PXE booting from any brand USB-to-Ethernet dongle?

The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is a good example. It does not have a built-in Ethernet port. I have read that you have to purchase a specific Microsoft branded dongle that's compatible with the Surface's firmware in order to PXE boot. Is there a way to use any USB-to-Ethernet dongle on any computer so that you can PXE boot any computer? I guess I'm thinking along the lines of creating a bootable USB drive, booting to a pre-boot environment from it and then PXE booting from there.

Has anyone been able to accomplish this? If so, please share the steps to do this :-)


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - sklerder - 03-31-2024

Hi !
With any USB-to-Ethernet dongle, I'm pretty sure it won't work, particularly with old ones.
But I've used with success a Realtek RTL8153 based dongle on recent PC. To do so :
- The PC must have the option to boot in UEFI PXE mode in the BIOS/UEFI firmware
- The PC must not have an integrated Ethernet interface.
Don't forget that Secure Boot must be deactivated ...

I don't know if I may post the brand and model with which I frequently have successfully booted in PXE mode, that's why I give just an indication about the chipset used.

P.S. : It is possible, too, to create an USB storage key with an iPXE image dedicated to boot on USB Ethernet  adaptor, but I didn't have any success with it (USB storage and USB Ethernet are in conflict with this image, generally, the USB storage disappears when you boot the PXE image). That's why I tried with the ditto Realtek RTL8153 based adaptor.


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - jeffshead - 04-05-2024

Thanks for the response. I have successfully built an iPXE USB drive which supports both legacy BIOS and UEFI booting to iVentoy. The only issue that I haven't been able to overcome is that I lose the keyboard when I UEFI boot. It works great for legacy BIOS booting.


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - jeffshead - 04-09-2024

(04-05-2024, 03:56 AM)jeffshead Wrote: Thanks for the response. I have successfully built an iPXE USB drive which supports both legacy BIOS and UEFI booting to iVentoy. The only issue that I haven't been able to overcome is that I lose the keyboard when I UEFI boot. It works great for legacy BIOS booting.

I made some progress with the devs of iPXE, here. We reached a point to where it seems the script or version of iPXE that iVentoy uses is causing the issue.

Can the iVentoy devs please help troubleshoot this? The iPXE devs left off here:

"This means that your USB build works as it should.
As mentioned, your iventoy_loader_16000 is probably the one that is causing issues, you should probably not need to chain into that iPXE build at all?
Next step here is probably to look into which script it is running, and call that directly from your new build."


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - sklerder - 04-09-2024

(04-09-2024, 12:53 PM),jeffshead Wrote: .../...
I made some progress with the devs of iPXE, here. We reached a point to where it seems the script or version of iPXE that iVentoy uses is causing the issue.

Can the iVentoy devs please help troubleshoot this? The iPXE devs left off here:

"This means that your USB build works as it should.
As mentioned, your iventoy_loader_16000 is probably the one that is causing issues, you should probably not need to chain into that iPXE build at all?
Next step here is probably to look into which script it is running, and call that directly from your new build."
Hi !
Good job  [Image: thumbsup.png]
As far as I can remember, longpanda uses a recent version of iPXE (see the download on Github), so, I'm not sure the issue is bound to the version ...
But maybe the version should be compiled with the USB keyboard option.

What I can say is that I don't meet this issue with the PXE client of the computers I tested with the Realtek USB3 dongle.

Did you enable PXE booting on the computer(s) you used ?


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - jeffshead - 04-09-2024

(04-09-2024, 02:18 PM)sklerder Wrote: Did you enable PXE booting on the computer(s) you used ?
Yes, but none of the computers that I've tested will PXE boot with the USB to Ethernet adapter, alone. I created a USB iPXE boot drive, as a work around, to boot from. This works and displays the iVentoy menu but the keyboard stops working when booting UEFI. This is why the iPXE devs suggested calling the iVentoy script directly and not using the iPXE build that comes with iVentoy but I don't know how to do that.


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - sklerder - 04-10-2024

Hi !
The iVentoy script and loaders are hardcoded in the deliverable, and this is "closed source".
So, no one but longpanda can modify it [Image: sad.png]


RE: PXE boot via USB Ethernet dongle - jeffshead - 04-11-2024

Is there any way to determine which version of iPXE is used by iVentoy and if it's and unmodified version? I need to make the iPXE version on the USB thumb drive match for more testing.