Troubleshooting TFTP/PXE with WDS VM and pfSense VM router


[H]F Junkie
Jul 27, 2006
This post is a continuation of the WDS VM / MDT imaging series:
Expectations of this thread:
  • There is nothing to solve in this post as I was able to figure out the solution thanks to a combination of the above threads and the following resources:
  • The purpose of this thread is to document and share the solution I found to get WDS PXE booting working

  • I am using the same VM from the two threads at the beginning of this post, but with a few changes to its configuration:
    • Created host-only virtual network CONTOSO for subnet, DHCP is not enabled, connect host virtual adapter to this network

    • Added the above NIC to the WDS VM, and did NOT remove the original NIC (which is a bridge to one of the two physical NICs on my Intel NUC)

    • In the WDS VM under ncpa.cpl, I set the original NIC to full auto (no static IP assignments), then selected both NICs and created a bridged connection. I configured the bridged connection with a static IP address.

    • The purpose of this bridged connection is control and convenience. My home network is and I enjoy being able to just hookup physically, power on my WDS VM, and image physical machines on the network. However, today at the time of writing this post, not only do I not have a physical connection but also do not want to have WDS PXE traffic over the WiFi card of my Intel NUC -- but I want to spend some time rebuilding my MDT imaging server and testing using blank VMs. So, the host-only virtual network allows me to do this without having to reset static IP addressing on my NICs every time I change network.

    • Likewise, the blank VMs I am testing PXE booting and imaging with need internet access, so therefore I have created a new VM CON-RTR that runs pfSense. This VM has two NICs: NAT NIC + host only CONTOSO NIC. The NAT NIC is the WAN interface, while the CONTOSO NIC is the LAN interface.
Solution to get PXE booting to WDS VM working with pfSense:
  1. Information to be aware of from my setup (not mentioned above) in case it might help with translating certain details into your setup:
    • My pfSense VM is configured for LAN IP WAN is DHCP. Hostname is CON-RTR.

    • My WDS VM is configured for LAN IP Hostname is CON-MDT.
  2. Login to the web-interface of pfSense (in my case it was

  3. Navigate to Services > DHCP Server > scroll down to Other Options

  4. Click on "Display Advanced" for Network Booting, then configure the following as such:
    • Checkmark "Enable" to enable network booting

    • Set "Next Server" to the IP address of your WDS server (i.e.
  5. Scroll down to "Additional BOOTP/DHCP Options" and click on "Display Advanced", then add the following single option:
    • Number: 60

    • Type: Text

    • Value: PXEClient
  6. Scroll down a little bit and click on the "Save" button

  7. That's it! Your VMs should be able to PXE boot. WDS will be able to intervene and supply the correct PXE boot file when the VM starts talking to your WDS server.