Yesterday, I successfully installed a working PXE server on a Raspberry Pi and managed to boot from it on my home server on my local network.

My goal is to build a cluster with a master node hosted on a VPS and I want to be able to add new nodes from outside remotely (home servers of friends willing to join the cluster).

I am wondering how I can accomplish that? Is PXE the way to go to provision machines and what kind of network infrastructure shall I rely on? Shall I use a VPN? How could a machine with no OS installed be aware of it?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Rui F Ribeiro, schily, andcoz, Romeo Ninov, msp9011 Aug 28 '18 at 6:34

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  • PXE is not what you want for this, at least not classic PXE. You should look into doing a two-stage bootstrap, with one stage local to the nodes you want to use, which then downloads the second stage over a secure channel (ideally HTTPS, as that's way simpler to set up than a VPN) and boots that (probably with kexec). – Austin Hemmelgarn Aug 29 '18 at 14:31

You can use a DHCP relay in the same broadcast domain as the machine that you want to provision. (A DHCP server pointing it to the remote TFTP resources should work as well).

In a home setup, it might make sense to get a Raspberry Pi as the relay to a server elsewhere. (If the router can't be the relay). The server elsewhere needs to be connectable on several ports (DHCP and TFTP at least).

The PXE software is part of the hardware. (Possibly the network card's option ROM or part of the computer's firmware)

If you want to run it over a VPN, that would need to be configured outside the computer that you want to netboot. (If you have a device capable of a layer 2 VPN, you might be able to boot it without a DHCP relay (The layer 2 VPN is probably more complicated though))

  • One option is the dhcp-relay option in dnsmasq... Many routers can also relay DHCP. Too many tool recommendations might get the question closed as off-topic. – Gert van den Berg Aug 27 '18 at 12:07

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