Saturday, January 31, 2009

Booting BackTrack 4 over the network (PXE or Net Boot CD)

One of the features we really wanted in BackTrack 4 was a fully working PXE boot system.
This could be ideal in Team Penetration Testing, Training, Cluster Cracking or simply Installing BackTrack over the network.

The PXE boot functionality was imported from SLAX, and is still not polished. In our tests, some network drivers failed to load at the initrd bootstrap due to kernel memory limitations. We got around this by adding some drivers into the kernel itself.
Most major network cards are supported and we will be improving on this as we get more feedback once BT4 Beta is released.

Getting the PXE system up and running after you've booted the Live{CD/USB} and set up your network interfaces is simple:

Once that's done, you should be running a web server (we use httpfs for the file transfer), and all the rest of the components required to boot a machine from the network.

Configure the target machine to boot from the network, and make sure there are no additional DHCP servers on the subnet.

Your Network Card PXE should pick up the BT4 PXE server, and load the initrd.

If all goes well, you should see BackTrack load the LZM files over HTTPFS:

We will also be publishing an 8mb "netboot" iso, in case you do not have PXE enabled cards. These isos will accept an "ip=" boot cheatcode parameter.

Anyone care to whip up a cluster script / djohn setup ?


  1. Hi Muts and others.

    One question :
    Is scapy gone be integrated into Bt4 ?
    ( )

    I know ... apt-get or wget scapy
    but Bt is a security pentesting release, and i think that scapy should be on by default on bt*.

    I would like to know what you think about this

    Thanks for your time, and your good work, it's very appreciated.

  2. Hi !
    Happy to see coming this new release...
    The best : the stale release coming soon !;)

    About pxe, I tryed to boot the .iso BY pxe (tftp, dhcp, http server and virtual cd drive)
    but it don' find the "BT4" folder... And stopping on this step ! Do you know what's happend ?

    The servers run on winXPpro and serve the gpxelinux.0.
    this isthe menu's arguments :
    APPEND boot=caspernfs initrd= ramdisk_size=1048576
    root=/dev/ram nfsroot= rw[/quote]

    I've mounted the .iso in HFS as "bactrack" and I can read this in a web browser by request "".

    Regards and many thanks for your powerful job ! :))

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