SecureBoot-compatible UEFI netboot over IPv4 and IPv6

UEFI/PXE-netboot-install describes a method for preparing a self-contained netboot image for use with UEFI-based systems. However, with the introduction of UEFI SecureBoot, it is not possible to boot self-built netboot images on all UEFI systems without either disabling SecureBoot on the target system, or updating the SecureBoot key configuration in the firmware and signing your netboot images. This page therefore describes an alternate method for netbooting Ubuntu using a pre-prepared UEFI grub image.

This method also has two additional key features:

  • it allows booting to a grub menu providing a selection of boot options
  • changes can be made to the boot configuration by dropping in stock Ubuntu netboot images and/or updating the grub.cfg, with no requirement to regenerate special grub images.

It is expected that future versions of MAAS will use the described method for hardware provisioning.

TFTP server configuration

Downloading the standard boot files

Setting up the basic tftp root requires copying into place three main files:

  • shim.efi.signed from the shim-signed package, installed as bootx64.efi under the tftp root

  • grubnetx64.efi.signed from the grub2 source package (and shipped in the grub-efi-amd64-signed binary package), installed as 'grubx64.efi' under the tftp root

  • unicode.pf2 from the grub-common package, installed as grub/fonts/unicode.pf2 under the tftp root.

The last of these files is optional, but makes it possible to provide the same high-quality graphical output for the grub menu when netbooting that you get when booting locally.

The script enables you to download and install all of these files securely from Ubuntu. Ubuntu 13.10 or later is needed to run this script; if your tftp server is deployed on an earlier version of Ubuntu or on a different OS, you will want to create an Ubuntu 13.10 chroot, run the script, and copy the result over to your server. Note that it does *not* verify the grubnetx64.efi.signed file at download time, but instead relies on the fact that the bootx64.efi from the shim package will fail to pass control to grubx64.efi if it is not a properly signed EFI binary. (This does mean that an attacker could intercept your network traffic and replace the real grubx64.efi with any other binary signed by a trusted key, such as a different OS. If this is a concern, you should download the grub-efi-amd64-signed binary package with apt-get and extract the grubnetx64.efi.signed binary instead of using the attached script.)

Configuring the Ubuntu payload

In addition to the stock bootloader files, you will need to copy your kernel and initramfs to the tftp root, and install a grub2 config file at grub/grub.cfg under the tftp root. The kernel and initramfs can be downloaded from; e.g.:

wget -O precise/linux
wget -O precise/initrd.gz

Here is a sample grub.cfg that offers a single boot entry, assuming that the netboot files have been installed in the precise subdirectory of the tftp root. You can specify as many menuentry sections as you wish.

set default="0"
set timeout=-1

if loadfont unicode ; then
  set gfxmode=auto
  set locale_dir=$prefix/locale
  set lang=en_US
terminal_output gfxterm

set menu_color_normal=white/black
set menu_color_highlight=black/light-gray
if background_color 44,0,30; then

function gfxmode {
        set gfxpayload="${1}"
        if [ "${1}" = "keep" ]; then
                set vt_handoff=vt.handoff=7
                set vt_handoff=

set linux_gfx_mode=keep

export linux_gfx_mode

menuentry 'Ubuntu 12.04' {
        gfxmode $linux_gfx_mode
        linux /precise/linux $vt_handoff quiet splash
        initrd /precise/initrd.gz

DHCP server configuration

Once the tftp server has been configured, you will also need to configure your DHCP server to point at it. While it's easy to set up your tftp server to point all machines at a single tftp resource for PXE booting, chances are you will want to configure your network so that it can boot both BIOS and UEFI systems. The below sample configurations can be used to direct machines of each type to the right tftp payload for booting.

Each of these samples assumes that you already have your dhcp server configured. If you need assistance in setting up your dhcp server, please consult the documentation for the respective packages.

DHCPv4 (dnsmasq)

DNSmasq functions as an all-in-one DHCP, DNS, and TFTP server. Setting up dnsmasq to serve BIOS and UEFI PXE clients is as simple as adding the following three lines to your /etc/dnsmasq.conf:


DHCPv4 (isc-dhcp-server)

The configuration for isc-dhcp-server is slightly more involved than for dnsmasq. Assuming that your tftp server is on ip address, you can add the following lines to /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf:

option arch code 93 = unsigned integer 16;

if option arch = 00:07 {
      filename "bootx64.efi";
} else {
      filename "pxelinux.0";

Note that unlike dnsmasq, isc-dhcp-server does not include a built-in tftp server, so you will need to run one separately. It's recommended that you use tftpd-hpa for this.

DHCPv6 (isc-dhcp-server)

If you wish to support netboot over IPv6, you will need to use isc-dhcp-server; at present, dnsmasq does not support the DHCPv6 extensions for tftp booting.

Configuring isc-dhcp-server for DHCPv6 requires running a separate server, even if you already have isc-dhcp-server running for DHCPv4. The DHCPv4 and DHCPv6 servers can run on the same machine, and the Ubuntu isc-dhcp-server supports this with separate isc-dhcp-server and isc-dhcp-server6 upstart jobs.

Note that whereas normally DHCPv6 is only used for supplemental information such as DNS servers, with addresses handled via autoconfiguration in response to router advertisements, when netbooting you must configure your DHCPv6 server to allocate addresses; UEFI firmware will generally not netboot without this.

To enable temporary address assignments and configure UEFI netbooting over IPv6, add lines like the following to /etc/dhcp/dhcpd6.conf. This example assumes a network of 2001:db8:f00f:cafe::/64 with your DHCP/DNS/tftp server using the address of 2001:db8:f00f:cafe::1; you should adjust to match your own IPv6 network configuration.

option dhcp6.bootfile-url code 59 = string;
option dhcp6.client-arch-type code 61 = array of unsigned integer 16;

option 2001:db8:f00f:cafe::1;

if option dhcp6.client-arch-type = 00:07 {
        option dhcp6.bootfile-url "tftp://[2001:db8:f00f:cafe::1]/bootx64.efi";
} else {
        # Support a hypothetical BIOS system that can PXE boot over IPv6
        option dhcp6.bootfile-url "tftp://[[2001:db8:f00f:cafe::1]/pxelinux.0";

subnet6 2001:db8:f00f:cafe::/64 {
        range6 2001:db8:f00f:cafe::42:10 2001:db8:f00f:cafe::42:99;
        range6 2001:db8:f00f:cafe:: temporary;

Once configured, you can start the DHCPv6 server with sudo service isc-dhcp-server6 start.

Note that prior to Ubuntu 13.10, the tftpd-hpa package is configured to listen on by default, which causes it to bind to IPv4-only. To support IPv6 netboot you will need to change this in /etc/default/tftpd-hpa to read TFTP_ADDRESS=[::]:69.

Warning /!\ At the time of this writing, Bug #1229458 in grub2 prevents successfully booting to a grub menu using IPv6 netboot.

Support for other architectures

The IETF maintains a list of known client architectures for DHCP/DHCPv6. You can extend your DHCP configuration to permit netbooting of other client architectures by matching on the corresponding DHCP option value instead of 00:07 (== x86_64 UEFI). For instance, x86_32 UEFI can be supported by matching on an architecture value of 00:06 ('6' if using dnsmasq), and ARMv8 can be supported by matching 00:0b ('11' using dnsmasq). For other architectures, you would not use shim for the payload, and instead boot to grub, or directly to a kernel that has an EFI boot stub.

UEFI/SecureBoot-PXE-IPv6 (last edited 2015-03-13 19:13:40 by vorlon)