Friday, November 9, 2012

PXE booting of Webconverger

Webconverger is a great web kiosk tool.  This post briefly explains how to customize it and have it boot over a network (PXE boot).  These instructions apply to Ubuntu servers, but concept is adaptable.

First, download the webconverger ISO - I used version 8.0 since I already had it kicking around.

You need a DHCP server, a TFTP server and an NFS server.  Of course, the workstation has to support PXE booting, and be on the same network as these 3 servers.

You can use one physical machine for all three services, but in my scenario I have two machines, one acts as DHCP server, and the other is both the TFTP and NFS server.


Using dhcp3-server.. entry in /etc/dhcp3/dhcpd.conf:

        host temp {
                hardware ethernet 00:14:c2:c4:5f:38;
                option host-name "temp";
                option root-path "";
                if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 9) = "PXEClient" {
                filename "webc/pxelinux.0"; }

 Note:  Here the "next-server" is required to redirect to the TFTP server.. obviously change the MAC and ip addresses according to your workstation and servers.  Be sure to restart your DHCP server.

Ok - thats the easy part..  now you have to prep for the TFTP/NFS server setup:

For PXE booting, you need syslinux, nfs-kernel-server, and tftpd-hpa.


First, make root tftpboot directory for webconverger, then mount the ISO and copy files into the root dir:
mkdir -p /var/lib/tftpboot/webc/webconverger/8.0
mount -o loop webc8.iso /mnt
cp -a /mnt/* /var/lib/tftpboot/webc/webconverger/8.0
umount /mnt
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/pxelinux.0 /var/lib/tftpboot/webc
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/vesamenu.c32 /var/lib/tftpboot/webc
mkdir /var/lib/tftpboot/webc/pxelinux.cfg

In /var/lib/tftpboot/webc/pxelinux.cfg create a file called "default" with the following contents:

DEFAULT vesamenu.c32
MENU BEGIN Webconverger
MENU TITLE Webconverger
        MENU INCLUDE webconverger/
NOTE:  The TIMEOUT 10 is basically allowing no time to show menu.. I just want it booting "wc" entry (ONTIMEOUT wc) - adjust accordingly.

Last thing needed is the file /var/lib/tftpboot/webc/webconverger/

# nfsroot ip is pxe server's address
        MENU LABEL Webconverger 8
        KERNEL /webconverger/8.0/live/vmlinuz
APPEND initrd=/webconverger/8.0/live/initrd.img boot=live config homepage= hostname=webconverger nonetworking nopersistent quickreboot nomodeset noroot splash username=webc vga=current quiet netboot=nfs nfsroot=
        TEXT HELP
        Boot Webconverger 8.0

Essentially you just need one entry /etc/exports:
/var/lib/tftpboot/webc *(ro,sync,no_subtree_check)
Then do:  exportfs -a


Enter BIOS and configure station to boot from network.

You can customize by workstation, by creating additional entries in pxelinux.cfg..    a file called "01-00-14-c2-c4-5f-38" for example, will be used for workstation with MAC of 00:14:c2:c4:5f:38.  Essentially you just copy the "default" file and adjust the ONTIMEOUT to point to a LABEL in



  1. Very nice tutorial, I was able to successfully boot webconverger 16, but failed with the latest edition. It seemed to boot properly initially, but then stuck at "Begin: Running /scripts/pre-mount..." Perphaps some of the pxe parameters causing the problems?

  2. Change - remove the quiet option and change splash to nosplash.. you might get more output. I sometimes got NFS mount attempts failing, but couldn't track it down. I haven't tried latest WC.

    1. With the nosplash option, I was able see why it was failing, apparently WC tried to mount NFS over TCP but can't, it said something about NFS over TCP not available from 192.168.x.x. It seemed strange considered the fact that I'm able to boot other distros over NFS without any problems, I'm also verified my NFS server setup which indeed listen on both TCP and UDP connection.