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Re: motherboards for diskless nodes

We have been experimenting with (diskless cluster) booting over wireless with mixed results... you will need a board with a BIOS that supports some exotic "boot from..." options. For instance, the EPIA boards that MIT Roofnet uses support booting from USB, INT 18 devices, etc. Of course, those boards also have a DoC Millenium as their BIOS part, so you may as well go with LinuxBIOS if diskless booting is a priority. Whether it is sanguine to boot a WLAN remotely is another matter entirely.

If you don't have "boot from network" options in your BIOS then it is currently better, faster, and cheaper to investigate either a LinuxBIOS, LinuxDoM or some other "embedded" solution. The PROM you need for an etherboot / netboot capable card like the SMC2632W PCI host adapter (http://www.etherboot.org/db/nics.php?show=tech_data&chip_manufacturer=SMC) will probably cost you more than a floppy drive or DiskOnModule (DoM) anyhow. Getting the right PROM can get pricey, even if you are buying by the rail, see http://www.disklessworkstations.com.

We also do not use IPMI or console redirection. If anything happens that disrupts our rsh access we assume a hard crash, and do a power cycle via an IP-addressable plugstrip like the dataprobe linecord. Not always a safe assumption but it saves us some diagnostic time.

Mobos with 802.11 PHY on them and those targeted at computation appear to be on opposite ends of the server market. That having been said, there is increasing prism2 support by etherboot.org so maybe some day...

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