Sometimes, we need to install Windows 10 on a PC without a DVD drive or USB port. In these cases, we can only try to do the installation through the local network. Most of the tutorials available are complicated and are intended for medium/high users. So now I offer you a tutorial based on SERVA, which is simple and easy to use the PXE server. First of all, we are going to define what a PXE server is; by its acronym Preboot eXecution Environment, it is an environment to boot and install the operating system on computers through a LAN network, independently of the available data storage devices (such as hard disks) or the operating systems installed. SERVA is a small PXE server for Windows that allows us to install an operating system over the local network, without the need for bootable DVDs or USBs.
There is a free (Non-supporter) and a paid (Supporter) version. The main limitations of the free version are the following: For 50 minutes, it is limited to two clients per session and the operating system menu is reduced to 7. But it is perfect for home use. Let us go for it!
- We will need an original DVD of Windows 10 or an ISO.
- Computer with Windows installed with user name and password: Serva is a Windows application and needs to be installed on a PC with it (it will work as a server).
- Download the free version (non-supporter).
- Unzip in a folder called “Serva”.
NOTE: No installation is necessary because it is portable. For ease of use, I recommend unzipping at the root of the hard drive.
Then, create inside an empty folder (for example OS) where the decompressed images of the operating systems will be located:
Running the EXE file
Run “Serva64.exe” (or Serva32.exe) depending on the version of our Windows. The free version will ask you to wait for 7 seconds before you can use it. Once the wait is over, click “Thanks, not today” and configure as follows (if a Windows Firewall warning appears, give access to the application).
In the first place, we have to select “settings”.
Then, click on the TFTP tab. Next click on TFTP server option. After that, select TFTP server root directory and browse through the file directory to where the folder you previously created is located.
Finally, select the DHCP tab, then select the proxyDHCP and BINL options.
After that, close and restart the program (as administrator). At this point, several subfolders will be created within the root folder “OS”:
NWA_PXE: Here we will put different Windows distributions (Linux, etc).
WIA_RIS: Previous Windows insight (XP, Server 2008 non-R2).
The previous folders do not interest us.
WIA_WDS: From the view on (View, W7, W8, W10). This is the one!
The “WIA_WDS” folder must be configured as shared and with the name of the shared resource “WIA_WDS_SHARE”
Create a folder inside “WIA_WDS” with the name of the operating system. Then extract the content of the ISO and paste it into the folder. For example C:\Serva\WIA_WDS\Windows10\ Then we close the program and restart it as an administrator.
At the destination computer
Go to the computer where you want to install Windows and enter the BIOS. Make sure that the network boot is enabled. This setting can be called “Boot from the network” or “Boot from PXE”.
Then start the computer and press the key to display the start menu. On most computers, press F12, F8 or del button depending on the BIOS version. Select Network or PXE (again, this depends on the computer BIOS), to boot from the network, using Serva
If all goes well, you should see a screen similar to the one below that shows the computer’s MAC and network card requests to an IP address via DHCP. The installation files are loaded and a small window called ServaPENet is displayed. In this step, Serva installs the network driver, loads the network resources and connects to the Windows installation folder. Type in the user account of the server pc and accept.
Then continue with the installation of Windows, as usual. As you can see, the entire proccess is a little bit complex, but by following these steps, we can make it.