iPXE Dynamic Configuration


This adds support for dynamically generating iPXE configuration files when booting a node.

Problem description

The current iPXE support depends on configuration files to be cached on the disk. This creates a dependency between a given ironic-conductor and a given node (even without a conductor lock on a node) because that ironic-conductor is the only one able to boot that node. This also makes take-over more complicated because the new ironic-conductor will need to regenerate the iPXE configuration files for the new nodes it’s now managing and update the DHCP server accordingly.

Proposed change

The proposed implementation consists of creating a new Driver Vendor Passthru method called ipxe_config that will dynamically generate the iPXE configuration files for a given node UUID or mac address depending on the node’s provision state.

When Neutron is used with iPXE enabled, it will configure the DHCP server to make a request to the Driver Vendor Passthru endpoint using the node’s UUID when booting a node, e.g:

http://<Ironic API Address>:6385/v1/drivers/<driver_name>/vendor_passthru/ipxe_config?node_uuid=<node UUID>

Ironic will then check the provision_state of the node and generate the iPXE configuration file for that state. Say, the node provision_state is DEPLOYING, we then will return an iPXE configuration to boot the deploy ramdisk and kernel. If the node provision_state is ACTIVE, we then return an iPXE configuration to boot from the image ramdisk and kernel (If local boot and/or full disk image is not specified). For an unknown provision_state we just return an iPXE configuration file that prints out an error explaining the problem on the node’s console log and a warning message in the Ironic log.

If an operator wants to have an external DHCP server (standalone version) but still benefit from dynamically generated iPXE script files (instead of using static files) it will be possible by making the same Driver Vendor Passthru endpoint to support passing the MAC address of one of the node’s port as parameter, e.g:

http://<Ironic API Address>:6385/v1/drivers/<driver_name>/vendor_passthru/ipxe_config?port_address=<port address>

When scripting iPXE allows expanding variables so that an operator can create a single iPXE script pointing to the Ironic API (and expanding the ${mac} variable) when configuring their external DHCP server allowing them to have dynamically generated iPXE configuration for their environment even when Neutron is not used.

This work can get even more powerful when the images are set to boot from http [1], as then the iPXE drive won’t need to save any state on the disk. As a future work, it would be also possible to add support for creating a Swift Temporary URL when booting images being served by Glance with a Swift storage backend.


Continue doing what we are doing, generate the configuration files and saving it to the disk.

Data model impact


State Machine Impact


REST API impact

A new Driver Vendor Passthru method called ipxe_config that supports GET HTTP.

Client (CLI) impact


RPC API impact

Currently the RPC method for vendor_passthru and driver_vendor_passthru returns a tuple with the return value and a boolean indicating if the method is asynchronous. We will need another flag to indicate if the value should be returned as a static file that will be served by the Ironic API instead of a response body message.

Driver API impact


Nova driver impact


Ramdisk impact


Security impact

The new Vendor Passthru method endpoint needs to be part of the public API, so that iPXE can get the configuration file from without authentication. This is the same as the methods heartbeat or lookup for the agent driver [2].

Other end user impact


Scalability impact

A stateless driver can scale better since it won’t depend on any information to be saved on the local conductor.

Performance Impact


Other deployer impact


Developer impact




Primary assignee:

lucasagomes <lucasagomes@gmail.com>

Other contributors:

Work Items

  • Create the new ipxe_config method for the PXEVendorPassthru interface.

  • Change the PXE configuration options passed to the DHCP server to point to the v1/drivers/<driver name>/vendor_passthru/ipxe_config?node_uuid=<node UUID> endpoint in the Ironic API instead of pointing to the URL to download the boot.ipxe script (the script won’t be need anymore and will be deleted).

  • Extend the vendor_passthru and driver_vendor_passthru RPC methods to return a flag indicating whether the return value should be attached to the response object as a file or returned as a response message.

  • Update the methods prepare_ramdisk and clean_up_ramdisk from the IPXEBoot interface to not attempt to create or delete the iPXE configuration files.


  • New boot interface: This spec is refactoring the boot logic out of the current Ironic deploy drivers into a new boot interface.


Unittests will be added.

Upgrades and Backwards Compatibility


Documentation Impact

The iPXE documentation will be updated to reflect the changes made by this spec.