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we want to boot the PI 4 from the network without an sd card. We already have an old system that works on the old pis with a minimal image that gets from the DHCP server the boot server.

Is something like that also possible with the PI 4 without TFTP or does the pi 4 netboot only work with TFTP?

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  • If tftp is working, I would stick with that. I do not know of an easy alternative.
    – Dr_Bunsen
    Feb 18 '20 at 15:45
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As far as I know specification of netboot is to use the tftp (Trivial File Transfer Protocol) to get the boot image from any server. Usually you install a tftp server for it, but it may be possible that a server application encapsulated this protocol. If that were the case, you wouldn't have to install a tftp server. An example of such a program is dnsmasq.

As of today however, you cannot netboot a Raspberry Pi 4B because it isn't supported. This is noted at Raspberry Pi boot modes:

The Raspberry Pi 4B does not use the bootcode.bin file - instead the bootloader is located in an on-board EEPROM chip. The Pi 4B bootloader currently only supports booting from an SD card. Support for USB host mode boot and Ethernet boot will be added by a future software update. See Pi4 Bootflow and SPI Boot EEPROM.

Therefore, it seems you will have to wait a while for netbooting with a Raspberry Pi 4B.

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You definitely can netboot a 4B, I'm doing it.

See: https://linuxhit.com/raspberry-pi-pxe-boot-netbooting-a-pi-4-without-an-sd-card/

TFTP is required for netboot, that's just the way it's defined.

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