In this post, you’ll learn how to enable PXE responder without WDS on a SCCM DP. When PXE responder is turned on, SCCM will stop the Windows Deployment Service on the DP and start the new ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service.
By enabling the PXE responder on SCCM DP, you can get rid of WDS as it isn’t required any more. This is a great feature because the PXE-enabled distribution point can now be a client or server OS. For example, you can now install distribution point role on Windows 11 and Windows 10.
The SCCM PXE responder service supports IPv6 and also enhances the flexibility of PXE-enabled distribution points in remote offices.
Advantages of using PXE Responder over WDS for SCCM OSD
Using PXE responder for SCCM OSD offers more advantages over WDS for SCCM OSD. If you are wondering why PXE responder service is better than WDS for OSD, here are some comparisons.
- WDS can be installed only on Windows Servers. This means you’ll have to dedicate a separate licensed server for running Windows Deployment Services. Where PXE responder service can be installed on client machines such as Windows 10, Windows 11 and even on Windows Server Core.
- WDS service is not stable, and you cannot rely on it. During my OSD troubleshooting, I have encountered several issues with WDS service not running or stopped. PXE responder service is more stable and is not known to cause issues during OSD.
- When you enabled multicast on the DP, the WDS installation happens in the background. The WDS creates RemoteInstall folder where it places all the files required for SCCM OSD. These folders may get sometimes corrupted or files may go missing. With PXE responder without WDS, you can get rid of the RemoteInstall folder completely and rely just on SCCMPXE.exe service that responds to PXE requests.
SCCM PXE Responder DHCP Options
When you enable a PXE responder on a distribution point without Windows Deployment Service, it can be on the same server as the DHCP service. You must add the following DHCP settings to support this configuration:
- Set the DWORD value DoNotListenOnDhcpPort to 1 in the following registry key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\SMS\DP.
- Set DHCP option 60 to PXEClient.
- Restart the SCCMPXE and DHCP services on the server.
Enable PXE Responder without WDS on SCCM DP
Let’s go through the steps to enable PXE responder on the distribution point.
- Launch the Configuration Manager console.
- Go to Administration\Overview\Site Configuration\Servers and Site System Roles.
- Select the site system server that is installed with distribution point role.
- Right-click the Distribution Point and select Properties.
- Switch to the PXE tab and select the option “Enable a PXE responder without Windows Deployment Service“.
When you enable PXE responder service on a DP, you see the message box with following details.
This option enables a PXE responder on the distribution point, which doesn’t require Windows Deployment Services (WDS). Because WDS is not required, the PXE-enabled distribution point can be a client or server operating system. This action disables WDS. Therefore, this distribution point cannot use multicast. Are you sure you want to enable the PXE responder without Windows Deployment Services? Click Yes to acknowledge and enable the ConfigMgr PXE responder.
Important: Once you enable PXE responder, all the options under the Multicast tab are grayed out. The PXE responder disables the multicast features on the distribution point server. That makes sense because WDS service used to be installed on the servers automatically whenever multicast was enabled.
There are two things that you need to remember when you enable the SCCM PXE responder service without WDS on a DP.
- When you enable the PXE responder service, the Multicast options are automatically greyed out or disabled.
- If you enable the multicast to simultaneously send data to multiple clients, then you cannot use a PXE responder service.
SCCM PXE Responder Logs
When you enable the PXE responder on a SCCM DP, the process is recorded in the SMSPXE.log file. The SMSPXE.log file is located on SCCM server in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\Logs folder. Take a look at all the important SCCM log files.
The following details are logged in the SMSPXE.log when you turn on the PXE responder on a PXE enabled distribution point server. Notice that WDS service is stopped and then disabled on the DP. DHCP service is started on the server which uses port 67 whereas the PXE service uses the port 4011 for its operation.
Start SCCM PXE as a service. SCCMPXE
Starting sccmpxe.exe version 5.0.9099.1003 from location 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\bin\x64\sccmpxe.exe'
Firewall service is already running.
Module folder: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\bin\x64
Waiting for WDS to stop ...
WDS has stopped.
PXE: TPCM, TPCM.prajwal.local SCCMPXE
--- Starting DHCP on 00:0C:29:90:35:B6, 192.168.100.201, 67.
--- Starting PXE on 00:0C:29:90:35:B6, 192.168.100.201, 4011.
--- Starting TFTP on 192.168.100.201.
Monitor ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service using Status Messages
Apart from PXE responder service log files, the Status Messages can be helpful in monitoring the PXE responder installation and issues related to it. In the ConfigMgr console, go to the Monitoring workspace. Then navigate to System Status\Status Message Queries. Take a look at the status message details of SMS_DISTRIBUTION_MANAGER.
The Message ID 9500 in the picture below shows that PXE is turned on at the distribution point.
The Message ID 9503 in the picture below shows that multicast is disabled on the distribution point.
ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service
After turning on the PXE responder on a ConfigMgr distribution point, you can use the Services console to check the status of this service. On the PXE server, launch the services console or run the shortcut command services.msc. Scroll down until you find the service with the name “ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service.” The status of this service should be “Running.”
Whenever you notice issues such as PXE responder not working, the first thing you need to do is ensure the ConfigMgr PXE Responder Service is up and running. This service basically manages the requests made by PXE enabled client computers.
The existing distribution point is now ready to respond to requests without WDS. After enabling the PXE responder service, when you determine that OSD is working fine, you can safely uninstall or remove Windows Deployment Services from the server.