I'm trying to configure Windows Server 2012 (a virtual box VM) with WDS so I can PXE boot some Windows 7 VMs (also virtual box).

All the machines involved are only attached to the "host only network",

The Server 2012 machine has been setup as an AD DS machine, has DNS installed and working along with DHCP with option 60 - PXEClient - set and WDS is set to not listen on DHCP ports. I've followed http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj648426.aspx very closely. I've used the boot.wim and install.wim files from the Win 7 installation DVD and they're configured as 'boot' and 'installation' images respectively.

When I boot the target machine, it gets an IP address, but I simply get 'no filename' and the boot won't proceed any further.

I've tried setting option 66 to (the WDS server) and option 67 to both Boot\x64\wdsnbp.com and Boot\x64\pxeboot.n12 but all to no avail.

I can't seem to see anything in the event log, either.

Can anyone out there spot what I'm doing wrong? Or give tips to narrow down a diagnostic?

1 Answer 1


PXE uses DHCP. You can run PXE on a network with separate PXE and DHCP servers, but PXE does need to listen on DHCP. It just can't hand out IP addresses.

It kind of goes like this:

PXE Client:  DHCPREQUEST, p.s. I'm a PXE Client.
DHCP Server:  DHCPACK, Here's your IP! p.s., PXE over there ->
PXE Server:  DHCPACK, Hello, I'll be your PXE server today...

So you're going to need to make changes to the DHCP server (to specify to PXE clients where to get PXE services) and possibly the routers as well (to specify the PXE server as a DHCP helper).

I don't have access to the environment where I had this working because I've switched jobs since then, but here are some suggested DHCP scope options:

Predefined Option 43 - 010400000000FF
Custom-made Option 60 - String - PXEClient
Predefined Option 66 - IP or Hostname of the WDS Server
Predefined Option 67 - boot\x86\wdsnbp.com

I got these here: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/e84c8a4c-a6da-4c4a-8ca6-2a1007b205ae/wds-server-and-dhcp-server-on-two-different-servers

Good luck!

  • 1
    Thanks Katherine Villyard - although I'd tried those options already, except Option 43 - I read your link and found the one thing I'd forgotten about - Windows Firewall! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction :-)
    – user1799
    Jul 8, 2013 at 19:47

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