Remote-boot glossary

BOOTP

BOOTP is a protocol that allows a computer to discovers its own network parameters, as well as some other useful informations. This protocol is defined in RFC 951. See also RARP and DHCP.

Bootrom (or BootPROM)

A bootrom is a chip installed on the network card, that typically contains networking software to start a remote-boot client. It works in tight interaction with the computer BIOS and provides basic IP/UDP connectivity as needed to accomplish its tasks.

Historically, the word Bootprom (or more precisely BootPROM) was used to denote the fact that this chip is a Programmable Read-Only Memory. However, as manufacturers now tend to use Flash-RAM instead, we prefer the generic term bootrom, without regard to the hardware used.

Bootstrap program

The task of a bootstrap program is to launch an operating system. In the context of remote boot, the bootstrap program is typically downloaded by the bootrom from a network server.

DHCP

DHCP is an extension to the BOOTP protocol that allows a computer to discovers its own network parameters, as well as some other useful informations. This extension allows for dynamic (i.e., changing) address assignment. However, DHCP is often used with fixed addresses. This protocol is defined in RFC 2131.

PXE

PXE is the acronym for Preboot eXecution Environment, the first open standard defining bootrom behaviour. It is part of Intel Wired for Management specifications. The standard can be downloaded from Intel WfM site.

RARP

RARP is a protocol that allows a computer to discovers its own network parameters. This protocol is defined in RFC 903. See also BOOTP and DHCP.

Remote-boot

A remote-boot computer is a computer that does not relies on local ressources (such as its hard disk) to start, but uses centralized remote ressources (through the network) instead. See our introduction to remote-boot for more details.

TFTP

TFTP is a protocol for transfering a files through the network. As said in its name (Trivial File Transfer Protocol), it is neither efficient nor versatile, but has been for a long time the favorite protocol for remote-boot as its implementation can be small enough to fit in.