How to Make an Intel Network Card PXE Boot

By Ian Matthews, September 20, 2007

Getting an modern motherboards integrated network card to PXE boot is usually as easy as entering the BIOS, enabling the BOOT ROM and setting the boot order to LAN first.  Getting an add in card to PXE boot is a whole other matter. In this brief, I explain how to get Intel network cards (i.e. PRO/100, PRO/1000 and PRO/10GB) to PXE boot.

The first thing you need is to ensure your card has a BOOT ROM.  All Intel Gigabit cards I am aware of have a boot ROM and many Pro 100 cards do.  If you look at your card and you see an empty socket on it, then it does NOT have a boot ROM and you will either need to use a different card or you will need to buy a ROM (i.e. eBay is your best bet for sourcing those ROMs).

The next thing you need to do is download the Intel Boot ROM WOL Upgrade, also know as Intel ProBoot, which you can do HERE.  After you run the downloaded PROBOOT.EXE, you will find the relavent files in C:\INTEL12.x .  Copy all those files (possibly excluding USERGUIDE.ZIP) to a BOOTABLE floppy.  Boot the machine from that floppy and at the command prompt type: 

  a:\IBAUTIL -UP

This will upgrade the cards firmware (so make sure you are getting a current version of PROBOOT) and set it to PXE boot (at least it did on my Intel PRO/1000GT).  Then simply reboot the computer, make sure that LAN or NETWORK or … is set to the first device in your machines boot device order and let the good times roll! 

In my case I was able to press CNTL+S during the boot process, to enter INTEL BOOT AGENT GE SETUP MENU.  There was nothing useful for me to change but it did prove that the flash worked.

After you are done with your Operating System installation (or whatever reason you wanted to PXE boot), you may want to disable the PXE boot properties of your card.  Just boot off your trusty boot floppy with IBAUTIL on it and at the command prompt, type:

  a:\IBAUTIL -FD

In the future you can turn PXE boot back on by booting off your IBAUTIL floppy and at the command prompt, typing:

  a:\IBAUTIL -FE

I hope you noticed the “D” is disable and “E” is enable.

Note that this information was largely taken from experience, the two .TXT files included with PROBOOT and THIS Intel page.

CAUTIONS: 

  • IBAUTIL is NOT intended for use with NIC’s which are built onto motherboards
  • You can not run IBAUTIL from a DOS Window.  It needs to be running from a DOS booted environment
  • You can blow up your card or worse during this process, although I did not have any trouble with mine
  • This information is provided as cursory information only and we accept no liablity
  • The notes above are simply a detailing of our experiences
  • As always, when flashing a device, you need to do your own research

Questions or Comments?