Diskless: Howto create a root-disk image

Discussion in 'Linux Networking' started by Andy, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. Andy

    Andy Guest

    I have a simple 2-PC LAN at home. I want to make one of them boot from
    the other over the network. I am trying this out because I plan to
    write some basic provisioning and maintenance routines for hardware
    which can be run on individual server over the network without booting
    them with their Disk OS.

    I have come across enough HOWTOs over the internet describing how to
    setup DHCP on the boot server or how to configure NFS share to share
    the root-disk image. What I cannot make out however is how to create a
    root disk image which can be used by the diskless PC as a read-only
    disk source of OS files and utilities.

    I tried installing RedHat Enterprise Linux 4.3 for this purpose using
    "--root <netboot_root>" switch on rpm. But it did not work out. There
    seemed to be too many cyclic dependencies between packages and even
    when the packages did get installed, they threw %post(...) errors, and
    sometimes failed with %pre errors. Not sure where I am going wrong. I
    am really looking for a standard HOWTO or manual which describes
    setting up such a root-disk image.

    I know that the technique of doing this could vary from one OS to
    another but any OS would do if it gives me an idea. I prefer specific
    tips on how to do it for RHEL.

    Please help.


    P.S. The specs of the two PCs
    Boot server: PIII 733 MHz w/ 133 MHz FSB, 512 Megs SDRAM @133MHz, 40
    Gigs hard drive - Linux on (hd0,1). Dual boots to FreeBSD 6.1 and RHEL

    Client: PIV 2.4 GHz, 512 MB DDR SDRAM, 40 Gigs hard drive - Linux on
    (hd0, 1). Dual boots to Win2k AS and Fedora Core 2.

    Connected via a small 5-port switch using 100T network cables.
    Andy, Sep 25, 2006
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  2. IHMO, a quick, simple and, or working solution is you boot off from a
    Knoppix LiveCD, run Knoppix terminal server, test boot your other
    machine with the help of PXE enabled NIC and, or Etherboot floppy (newer
    versions of Etherboot are PXE compliant).

    If the etherboot.nbi on Knoppix terminal server does not boots the
    remote machine, execute the following:

    # ln -sf /tftpboot/pxelinux.0 /tftpboot/etherboot.nbi

    and test boot again.

    You may need to copy and, or customize the following files from a
    working Knoppix terminal server system to your RHEL filesystem:


    Booting and, or running Knoppix from LiveCD is somewhat slow; to make it
    faster you may copy all the files from a mounted Knoppix LiveCD to
    /cdrom (which is exported as per /etc/exports).

    In addition to above I use syslinux to provide a decent menu and
    multiple boot options for client hosts.

    Hope that helps, if you still want to create the boot/root image, initrd
    and, or all the needed config file from scratch your mileage may vary.
    Balwinder S \bsd\ Dheeman, Sep 25, 2006
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