Preboot Execution Environment

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What Does Preboot Execution Environment Mean?

Preboot execution environment (PXE), pronounced as “pixie,” allows computers to boot up remotely through a network interface. PXE enables a client machine to boot from a server independent of the hard disks and installed operating system.


PXE was introduced as a component in the Wired for Management (WfM) framework by Intel in 1999. Intel’s WfM has now been superseded by Active Management Technology, but PXE is still a valuable tool for many network administrators around the world.

This term is also known as pre-execution environment.

Techopedia Explains Preboot Execution Environment

Network booting is generally applied in a diskless environment using routers and centrally managed computers, also known as thin clients. Centralized computing environments provide reduced maintenance costs, enhanced security and enhanced control over the system’s workstations.

PXE code is generally delivered with computer machines on a ROM chip or a boot disk to enable remote boot and configuration. The process makes use of network protocols such as User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP), Internet Protocol (IP) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).

Some of the key advantages of PXE are:

  • The client machine or workstation does not require a storage device or operating system.
  • Network extension and the addition of new client computers is made easier because PXE is vendor-independent.
  • Maintenance is simplified because most tasks are performed remotely.
  • Centralized data storage provides information security.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.