Acronym Soup: What is PXE?

Acronym Soup: What is PXE?

PXE stands for “Preboot eXecution Environment,” pronounced as “pixie,” and was introduced as a component of the Wired for Management (WfM) framework by Intel in 1999. WfM has been superseded by Active Management Technology, but PXE is still a valuable tool for network administrators as it is a protocol that boots network computers without using a hard drive or an operating system over a network interface. PXE enables a client machine to boot from a server independent of the hard disks and installed operating system.

Key advantages of PXE
PXE boot can be run over a network and does not require the client machine to have a hard drive or OS. You can boot the machine, access the hard drives, load an operating system, does not require internet access, addition of new clients and network extensions are easy thanks to PXE being vendor-independent, better information security with centralized data storage and remote access simplifies maintenance as everything can be done without having to leave your desk. Centralized computing environments offer enhanced control over the network’s workstations, enhanced security, and reduced maintenance costs.

PXE utilizes standard internet protocols such as, TCP/IP and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). A network interface card (NIC) connected to LAN remains active even when the PC is switched off. The NIC monitors LAN traffic for the PC’s unique media access control address repeated six times. Once the NIC receives the signal it turns on the PC, after which the system administrator can perform whatever task they need done, ex: installing a new operating system.

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