I'm running Windows Server 2012 R2, Standard Edition and have set up an iSCSI target, which I'm wanting a client to be able to:

  • Connect to in such a way that I can install Windows 7.
  • Allow client to select which target should be booted.
  • Boot to said target.

This is all very doable using something like iPXE, however iPXE does not have the drivers for my NIC; the drivers do exist for Windows. My thinking is possibly being able to use something like WinPE to essentially act as a replacement for iPXE, complete with driver support etc.

I'm at a loss to if WinPE is even up to this task; I know WinPE comes into play after iPXE has hooked to the iSCSI to start the Windows 7 setup, but is WinPE able to connect to an iSCSI target and boot it?

  • What NIC? Are you running a recent build of iPXE (I know they added several NICs during last year's SoC). – Chris S Jul 7 '14 at 20:13
  • @ChrisS The NIC is a Qualcomm Athero AR8161 chip. Unfortunately I'm not able to add in a supported ethernet card either. – R4D4 Jul 7 '14 at 20:15
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    iPXE is highly unpredictable, buggy, poorly documented, and departed from the standard; nice for playing if you have the time and you are ready for frustration. Avoid iPXE for production. – Pat Jul 8 '14 at 8:24
  • Oh dear, right, I wasn't aware of that. Would you suggest sticking with pure PXE then? – R4D4 Jul 8 '14 at 11:44
  • @R4D4 Pat has certain biases and insights due to his involvement with his own PXE software product (which he isn't mentioning as it's caused some troubles in the past). To clarify one detail, I use iPXE in production and have for years without encountering any bugs, unpredictable behavior, standards issues, or major frustrations. The documentation could be better. – Chris S Jul 8 '14 at 13:48

WinPE is itself a stripped-down installation of Windows. It uses the standard Windows boot methods, nothing terribly special (it typically loads an image into a RAM-disk, but this isn't technically special to WinPE). In short, it will not help you load another Windows installation from an iSCSI target.

  • So essentially I must use the PXE to boot Windows from an iSCSI target? – R4D4 Jul 7 '14 at 20:17
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    You have to use iPXE, a hardware iSCSI NIC, or equivalent to boot Windows from iSCSI. PXE is used for booting over BOOTP/TFTP, not related to iSCSI. – Chris S Jul 7 '14 at 21:01
  • That last sentence cleared a whole lot of things up, thank you! – R4D4 Jul 7 '14 at 21:11

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