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I'm trying to get a Dell M3800 Precision to PXE boot but the dongle I have isn't showing up in the BIOS. This is for a WDS install

Plugged into a Windows machine it identifies itself as a "ASIX AX88772A USB2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter" but it arrived from Dell for the purposes of PXE booting this machine.

I go into the BIOS and change the boot option from UEFI to Legacy and then make sure that the Network is the among the selected option. Pressing F12 on boot does nothing except offer me the option of booting to the "miniSSD" and there's no Network option in the resulting boot menu.

Has anybody else successfully done this before?

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    Any chance that BIOS has an option to enable/disable "Option ROM", or something to that effect? Sometimes the extended capabilities of peripherals (like PXE, RAID, etc.) are only available when the peripheral can execute it's own firmware. – tfrederick74656 Dec 2 '14 at 18:03
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    And one other question. Do you only need to PXE boot it once, or will this be a regular process? I only ask, because worst case, you could boot off a CD that contains software-emulated PXE boot support if you can't get the direct hardware-boot working. – tfrederick74656 Dec 2 '14 at 18:06
  • In the "Boot" section of the BIOS there's a "Load Legacy Option ROM". I've set that to Enabled (it can't be enabled when UEFI is on) but sadly it makes no difference – noonand Dec 2 '14 at 20:44
  • Re your second question I'd like it to be a regular process where I can get all my machines (and those of colleagues) back to a known good state. So I built the reference image, sysprepped it and am now coming unstuck here :-S – noonand Dec 2 '14 at 20:48
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    Haha, life as a SysAdmin in a nutshell. See my answer below for documentation on that approach. – tfrederick74656 Dec 2 '14 at 21:24
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For non-PXE capable devices, the CD/DVD approach is actually something that's built into WDS. It's called a Discover Image.

Discover Image

For the "official" Microsoft instructions, see this TechNet article. Their own instructions only tell you how to create an ISO image, but I found this article that explains how to build it by hand for a USB device, or you can use your favorite ISO-to-USB utility. We always kept a USB CD drive around for simplicity's sake.

For completeness, the non-Microsoft solution is called PXELINUX. Bit of a pain to set up, but has a lot of flexibility.

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    Many thanks! I'll investigate this in the morning, and come back with my findings. Appreciate it... – noonand Dec 2 '14 at 21:31
  • Experiences: the article is a bit dated referring to WAIK tools instead of ADK tools. I followed the process and used Rufus to put it on a USB key but no joy. It boots into whatever vestiges of the OS are left on the disk and then sits down – noonand Dec 3 '14 at 12:01
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This is a workaround for anyone experiencing the same issue, it's not solving the original problem rather just stepping around it. I used MDT 2013 and eventually got it to work.

In fairness to MDT it's quite intuitive and I just consulted the documentation once to see where it puts the boot images. In summary, after installation I:

  • Created a deployment share
  • Added my WIM file to it
  • Added a task sequence
  • Added the boot images (I used the Light Touch ones here)
  • Created a bootable USB key using Rufus
  • I booted the M3800 using the key made above and answered the questions re credentials etc.
  • After approximately 90 mins everything was done.

I had to do some faffing around with the BIOS settings to get it to boot during the initial reboot during the install but that was no big deal.

To conclude, same end result achieved just a different path taken.

Thanks to @tfrederick74656 for his efforts in trying to answer this question!

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