Introduction

iPXE Anywhere is a powerful network booting solution.

2Pint Software took iPXE, a popular open source Network Boot firmware, and added the “Anywhere” functionality by providing a proxyDHCP/TFTP/HTTP server called 2PXE Server. Multiple extra functionality and control can then be further added through the addition of a Web Service component, called iPXE Anywhere. These server components make iPXE sing and dance by allowing communication and control over the iPXE client software as well as providing Reporting functionality.

This document covers the installation, configuration and usage of the iPXE Anywhere Web Service component, an optional add-on to the 2PXE Server.

iPXE Anywhere Web-Service

iPXE Anywhere is a Web Service that the iPXE Network Boot Program can be configured to talk to through the 2PXE Server. The iPXE Anywhere server uses HTTP to talk with the clients and SQL to talk to the iPXE Anywhere SQL Database. It offers ‘extended functionality’ during the boot process such as BIOS updating, interacting with Microsoft MDT, creating custom iPXE menus etc.

iPXE Web Service Features

SysLog Server

Syslog is a way for network devices to send event messages to a logging server – usually known as a Syslog server. The Syslog protocol is supported by a wide range of devices and can be used to log many different types of events. For example, a router might send messages about users logging on to console sessions, while a web-server may log Access-Denied events.

The iPXE Anywhere Web Service uses a built in SysLog server to retrieve syslog messages from the iPXE Network Boot Program.

StifleR Integration

StifleR is a powerful network Bandwidth Control and Reporting tool from 2Pint Software. The web service can be configured to feed progress data to StifleR to allow for early detection, visibility and reporting of boots.

StifleR Error Handling

By allowing the StifleR service to retrieve messages, it can also provide the full error details directly to StifleR for troubleshooting.

Reporting

The iPXE Anywhere Web Service can be configured to track your PXE Boot requests and progress. This can be useful in keeping track of all your PXE Boot attempts globally, tracking errors and failures, and tracing any errant activity. You can also view historical reports (management folks seem to like these stats), and of course create your own reports as it’s based on SSRS.

Custom Actions & Menus

One of the most powerful features of the iPXE Anywhere Web Service is the ability to execute PowerShell code on the server in order to perform further, more complex actions on the system, or to go off and query other systems in your enterprise. Some examples:

  • Auto-create a support ticket on failed boot

  • Query an MDT Database for Computer details and eligibility before proceeding

  • Present a custom ‘Techie’ menu for troubleshooting

  • Check the system BIOS version and remediate if necessary

  • Order Pizza if it’s really late…(Seriously, it’s PowerShell so anything is possible right?!)

There is one installer for x86 and one for x64. The only pre-requisite is .Net Framework 4.5.2

Licensing

Licensing for the iPXE Anywhere Web Service is provided via the Licensing .cab file which will have been supplied to you by the friendly 2Pint Licensing droid. The license file contains your company information and is used to validate the installation.

iPXE Anywhere SQL Database(s)

This database stores info about PXE booted computers and their capabilities. Traffic to this database is very small and, if necessary, it may be hosted on SQL Express. The SQL Database does not have to be installed on the same server as the iPXE Anywhere Web Service, but the Service requires access to and permissions on the SQL Server in order to create the Database and also to interact with it.