View Full Version : Possible to netboot 8-bit nic on XT clone?

September 23rd, 2017, 06:15 PM
I have a 386 and 486 that I netboot into Slackware, and FreeDOS (via the memdisk module from iPXE). I really enjoy it, and want to play with it more.

Where it would be really helpful, is if I could netboot a new XT clone I got, a Delta Gold Elite (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Delta-Gold-Elite-dual-floppy-computer-et/122649410772). I'm fine with using a bootstrap floppy with the correct ethernet drivers installed.

I haven't had a chance to get the monitor working yet, so I'm not sure how ram it has, but I assume not much, which I think would limit how big a ram disk would be, but if I can make a stripped down version of dos, and load the rest from a network share, I think it could be doable.

I already do some serious work over an smb share with a script that auto commits to git on the share, from my old 386.

In my five minutes of research, I haven't found a conclusive answer as to if it is possible, and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts?

From what I can see, it doesn't look like iPXE would work on anything older than a 286. Is it somehow possible to netboot? I remember hearing about computers from the early 1980s doing it over arcnet, so I figure someone did it.

September 25th, 2017, 02:44 AM
In the old days we had some XT's booting over the (coax) network with Novell Netware, 8 bit ISA NE1000 card with boot rom.

For server emulation have a look at:


September 25th, 2017, 04:33 AM
I have an ne1000 clone with a boot rom, I've never tried to boot from it though.
I looked at setting up a smb sharing but by the time you load all the drivers there is not much ram left to run a program, certainly not enough for a ram disk.
In the end I settled for a packet driver that sits on top of the odi driver if I recall correctly. I found it was simpler to just use fastlynx 3 to move files to an from the machine.

September 25th, 2017, 05:16 AM
Part of the school system network growing up used IBM PS/2 Model 25s netbooted over a 10base2 (thinnet/coax) Ethernet network off of a Novell server, so yes, it's possible. Not sure if actual PXE is possible with currently available tools.

September 25th, 2017, 07:26 AM
We used boot ROMs on NI-5210 cards and a Novell Netware 3.X server while I was in college in 1991-1994. They worked fine, memory overhead was pretty decent (less than 50k if I recall correctly for the Netware client once DOS was loaded over the LAN.) We disabled and removed all the local hard drives, leaving just a 3.5 floppy for the students to use.