Is there a service out there that lets you boot all types of OSes?

I've been using WDS but so far I've not found a way for it to netboot Apple as well. It's all windows/wim files.

Would using DeployStuido be an ideal system? I maintain 100s of machines and they vary from Windows XP to 7 and all types of Apple OS 10.

EDIT: The servers I have are Mac OSX (I know horrible. I can always use Linux or another OS. Nothing major. I just need to be able to boot all types of OSes from one server)

  • 3
    WDS can be easily adapted to PXEboot linux. The same can probably be done for Mac, though I've never tried it.
    – Grant
    Jan 14, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    related support.apple.com/kb/HT5599
    – MDMoore313
    Jan 14, 2014 at 15:32

4 Answers 4


No: It is not possible to PXE boot any arbitrary OS.

Let me explain why:

After the first stage of booting a PXE enabled hardware has loaded some code of the OS into the memory of the target computer, this code has to "know" that the boot process should continue over network and not from some local media. So every type of OS you need to be able to boot over the network has to be modified to support booting over the network.

For many OSes this has already been done. But not for all of them.

  • It's pretty clear that the question refers to Windows and OS X, not any OS.
    – sciurus
    Jan 20, 2014 at 15:50
  • 3
    And its also pretty clear that the question has ALL in caps. Feb 20, 2014 at 2:22

I'm using PXELinux so I'm not sure if this will help. I was getting a headache setting all the flags etc to boot winpe from files. So I told it to forward the iso instead. I'm not familiar with macs. If there is something like a pe disk you could theoretically send the pe disk to the mac and theoretically have it establish either a nfs or smb share, then install over that.

My winpe section just sends the whole 300mb disc over.

LABEL winpe
    MENU LABEL Windows 7 x64 Installer
    KERNEL /memdisk
    INITRD winpe_amd64.iso
    APPEND iso raw

I was under the impression that macs were bsd like, so it could possibly work like a linux pxe share. I got most of what I needed from this site -> http://www.serenux.com




I used my router to redirect the pxe to my server. Not sure if any of this would help, it's just a start.

  • I helped you out a bit per the edit from the question you wrote about an hour ago or so. Hope the votes help you out a bit if nothing else. Jul 6, 2016 at 20:46

The UEFI in modern Macs does not support PXE as an older BIOS does. Macs netboot using BSDP (Boot Server Discovery Protocol), not PXE.

There are extensions to the isc-dhcpd (the package snoweagle mentioned) that support BSDP.

To take advantage of this and have only one boot server for your windows and macs you'd need to get away from WDS (my understanding is that it requires MSFT to manage DHCP service, I may be wrong), deploy an isc-dhcp server, and configure it to support both windows/linux clients via traditional PXE and macs requiring BSDP.

Here's some documentation on setting isc-dhcpd to repsond to BSDP requests: https://code.google.com/p/google-macops/wiki/UnderstandingBSDP

One apple user's experience (unfortunately the link with the real info is 404): http://lists.apple.com/archives/client-management/2006/Dec/msg00033.html

Here's a nice writeup of a setup that lets a user select windows/linux at boot time: http://blog.oberghmans.be/?p=77


I'm working on a similar multi-OS netboot environment currently with WDS and FAI (debian linux). The way I handle the issue is using an independent DHCP server (using the isc-dhcp-server package running on Debian) as a switcher between OS provisioning servers.

In the config you can point the pxe requests individually to different machines:

    # Server: LINUX01
    # Host config for first network address on first NIC
    host LINUX01 {
            hardware ethernet xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx;
            fixed-address x.x.x.x;

            # PXE boot config for automated OS install
            next-server <IP of Linux pxe server>;
            filename "pxelinux.0";

    # Server: WIN01
    # Host config for first network address on first NIC
    host WIN01 {
            hardware ethernet xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx;
            fixed-address x.x.x.x;

            # PXE boot config for automated OS install
            next-server <IP of WDS Server>;
            filename "Boot\\x64\\wdsnbp.com";

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