PXE only Config [OT]

Daniel Wells daniel_wells at byu.edu
Mon Dec 3 14:59:11 UTC 2007

On Sat, 1 Dec 2007 12:47:04 +0100
"Leonhard Kurz" <LeoKurz at gmx.de> wrote:
"I don't have a lot of experience in bureaucratic big shops, so it's
been difficult to concieve of a situation where DHCP needed to be
deployed seperately from PXE and what that would look like...
If somebody spent a few scarce seconds setting me straight, I would
certainly appreciate it."

There are all sorts of legitimate reasons for separating the DHCP responses from the PXE responses (as well as many reasons for keeping them on the same server).  Desktop management utilities (like Altiris and Landesk) have been providing their own separate "PXE Server" for years as part of their imaging and management solutions. It makes it much easier for Desktop support to get it set up, especially if they don’t have control over the network.

As a University, our IT infrastructure is highly distributed.  We have a central IT dept. that maintains infrastructure that spans the entire campus (the network being one of them).  However each department/school within the University has their own local IT department which handles local needs.  Some departments rely on us more than others.  Up till now, PXE has not been too big an issue because few departments have wanted to use it.  As it has been gaining popularity, it is starting to become a problem, especially since PXE lives in the broadcast domain.  Departments with shared subnets are starting to realize that they both can’t set up PXE servers.

So we want to set up a central PXE solution (like our DHCP) and restrict the use of departmental PXE servers throughout campus (also like DHCP).  However, we want to the campus community to have more access to this PXE server than they have to the DHCP server, which is one reason to separate them.  Also, DHCP is viewed as the more critical system, serving tens of thousands of computers.  It makes sense not to try to add to it load.

These are just a few of the reasons why it makes sense to separate them.  However I still have not heard from anyone who seems to know the internal workings of the ISC DHCP server on whether it is capable of doing this.  Does ISC still watch this list?  Is there a way to tell ISC to just trust the admin and send a packet no matter how many options it thinks is missing?

We are hoping to solve this problem sooner than later.  We want to use the ISC DHCP server for our needs because of its maturity and reputation as a DHCP server. But if it cannot do this, we need to start looking for other options.

Daniel W.

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