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Old 2005-08-14, 23:51   #1
Feb 2005

2 Posts
Default diskless linux OS?

Hey there :) I have been running prime for awhile now under windows but would love to convert to linux to use all my PCs. I have read the posts here but find them hard to use being a novice linux user. I have tried redhat 9 and a couple other OS but haven't a clue to the programing once the os is running on "1" machine. Is anyone out there with a diskless linux network running prime that can give me details on setup with needing a programming degree? :) Or is there a simple server all ready programmed that I can start pluggin in pcs over a hub or router?
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Old 2005-08-16, 10:46   #2
geoff's Avatar
Mar 2003
New Zealand

13×89 Posts

If you have two machines each with their own hard disk and connected by ethernet, then the easiest way to get started is to install the same Linux distribution on both and use the configuration tools from that distribution to set up the network. You need to at least be able to copy files from one machine to the other using tar.

Once you have things running as you like, copy the filesystem from the client machine to a directory on the server's hard disk and expose that directory to nfs mounts by adding an entry in the server's /etc/exports file and running exportfs. Then create a new lilo boot entry with the boot option root=/dev/nfs instead of root=/dev/hda or similar (but keep the old entry active too in case it doesn't work), and change the root entry in the client's /etc/fstab to perform an nfs mount instead of mounting the harddisk. Reboot the client and it will be running diskless.

To complete the process you need to either copy the client kernel image to a floppy and boot using syslinux or similar (assuming the kernel will fit on a floppy), or set up bootp and tftp services on the server and boot from the network. How you do that will depend a lot on your hardware, but if the client doesn't have a BIOS option to boot from the network device then you can put an etherboot ROM (see onto a floppy instead.

This is not a step by step guide, I don't really remember exactly what I did or what order I did it in. You may need to recompile the kernel to add some capabilities if they are not included by default, the main ones are nfs-server (for the server kernel) and nfs-client, root-on-nfs, bootp for the client. There are many other ways to do it and different software to choose from, but I found bootp by far the easiest bootserver to set up, and nfs is built into the Linux kernel and should be ready to go in most distributions. Once you have made one diskless client, you will easily be able to add others just by adding entries to /etc/bootptab, /etc/hosts, etc.
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Old 2006-12-11, 01:23   #3
jasong's Avatar
"Jason Goatcher"
Mar 2005

350710 Posts

Similar question:

Xyzzy(I think that's how his name is spelled) told me that if all I wanted to do with a computer is run DC, that it was possible to get a small thumb drive and run it off of that using Linux. Mind you, Bill Gates has me under his thumb on my main computer. The secondary computer(and, hopefully, later a third, diskless computer) is only for crunching. I have a 128MB thumb drive my Dad gave me, and absolutely no idea what to do next.

I'm not a total dunce when it comes to computers, so I'd like to suggest sr5sieve(the base-5 sieving program in the base-5 forum) as a first attempt. I'm thinking looking up "Live CD creation" or some such would be what I need, but I'm hoping you guys have a better idea as to where I could go, or what I could look up.
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Old 2006-12-13, 16:47   #4
paulunderwood's Avatar
Sep 2002
Database er0rr

71328 Posts
Default The FAQ might relevant to you. Bear in mind the limitations of "USB space" when considering your number crunching applications. Also, I have heard that some USB sticks can wear out with many, many writes; So backup accordingly. HTH
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