December 9th, 2013
I was excited to see that Synology have recently integrated a PXE solution in their latest version of Diskstation Manager – DSM 4.2 beta. This makes their NAS devices even more ideal in a home virtualisation lab as they are both cheap to buy and to run (the DS212 unit that I own consumes less than 20W in use), but also easy to configure and they offer a wide range of storage and network services such as CIFS / AFP / NFS / iSCSI, LDAP, PXE, TFTP, VPN, DNS.
They also offer more powerful Enterprise versions of their NAS devices, which run the same operating system but with much faster hardware. I’ve yet to test them in a production environment, but given my experience in the lab, I am sure they would be a competitive solution.
In this post I will show you how to set up a PXE boot server that will let you perform a network installation of Centos 6.3 using your Synology NAS.
What is PXE?
PXE (pronounced pixie) stands for Preboot eXecution Environment. It’s a technology that can be used to boot a computer into an operating system from it’s network card without needing anything to be installed on the computer’s local storage devices in advance. Most modern servers come with PXE support as standard.
It’s incredibly useful if you wish to automate the deployment of many servers without having to attend each one with an installation CD / DVD / USB stick. With a little work, you can also configure custom kickstart files to be served to each server, to save having to enter all the installation options manually.
How to set up your Synology NAS as a PXE boot server
Step 1 – Install DSM 4.2
Upgrade your Synology device to DSM 4.2 beta if you haven’t already. Follow the download links for your region, download the appropriate firmware that for your model of device, then upload it in the DSM admin panel – control panel – DSM update screen.
Step 2 – Set up the DHCP Service on your NAS
I would recommend you set up the DHCP server on your Synology first and test it works. If you are running this on your main LAN, you will need to disable the DHCP server on your router so they don’t conflict. You can download the DHCP server package in Package Center.
You will need to configure the relevant primary and secondary DNS, start and end IP addresses, netmask and gateway settings.