Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
This article expains in step by step instruction how to install Ubuntu over the network (although it's easy to adapt the how-to to other linux distros) via a Windows 2000/XP client.
The Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) is nothing new, but rarely used in home office environments because it's most of the time easier to install any operating system from a CD, DVD or even a USB storage device. But what, if you have neither optical drives nor USB storage devices? The only requisites for a PXE installation are a working computer (any OS with TFTP Servers available will do) and Internet access.
With the new Intel Southbridge (ICH8R) parallel ATA Drives are no longer supported by the chipset natively, which means most motherboard manufacturers add third party controllers on their boards to provide p-ata interfaces. These third party controllers however are not well supported on Linux at the moment. Especially not directly in the kernel, which means you would have to pre-compile your own installer to access any p-ata CD-Rom. Another reason for using PXE might be subnotebooks without CD/DVD-ROM. The only option you have there is an installation via USB or over the network (PXE).
Step 1: Prerequisites
First get yourself a copy of the free TFTP server by Philippe Jounin.