Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The title really says it. I was wondering how if at all, an OS installer (?) can be launched from a wireless network.

share|improve this question
Define "OS installer" and we'll talk - a windows upgrade install launched from a network drive will (IIRC) copy the files it needs down locally then reboot the system to launch the installer proper, and it won't know or care if your network is wired, wireless, or powered by unicorns. – RobM Mar 5 '11 at 20:06
@Robert Moir - I imagine Joshua is after some sort of PXE boot to install an OS on a blank hard disk. @Joshua - could you please clarify. – Ben Pilbrow Mar 5 '11 at 20:09
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the challenge here is that most preboot systems dont have much support for wifi. A lot of them can be configured to be bootable with the driver of your choice, but I have never seen a working PXE wifi adapter.

In this case use a wireless bridge. In this scenario you configure the bridge to connect to whatever wireless network you want, and then hardwire the host and boot normally as you would with a wired connection.

These are fairly popular for game console devices. An example is here:

Hope this helps you. Similar to the comments and mfinni's answer the setup should be no different, the challenge is with the systems support for wifi and not directly on the network itself.

share|improve this answer
Good info. I've never tried doing PXE over wifi, so have had no first-hand experience with any driver problems. – mfinni Mar 5 '11 at 21:09

The answer will be no different than a wired network, at all. You need an installation environment for the client, which will depend on the hardware and the OS. That environment will need to have a supported driver for the wireless NIC, same as if you were using a wired NIC.

share|improve this answer
Actually, this will be very different from a wired network. Your wnic has to know at least the ssid and possible key to connect. – petrus Mar 6 '11 at 21:44
@Petrus - And that makes absolutely no difference to the installation environment, right? Obviously there are differences at Layers 1 and 2. – mfinni Mar 7 '11 at 0:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.