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
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...