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Re: Creating PXE boot image

Johann Klammer wrote:

> lrhorer wrote:
>> I have PXE booting working from my Debian "Squeeze" server, and I can
> What software package are you using? pxelinux?


>> launch the Debian Network installer on a machine supporting PXE.  I
>> can;t quite figure out how to create a boot image from a connfigured
>> Linux workstation, though.  IOW, I have a workstation with a hard
>> disk installed that has Debian configured and working the way I want,
>> with
>> all the right utilities and device drivers.  How can I take that
>> system and create an image that will boot on diskless workstations
>> running PXE? If it matters, the workstation is using GRUB to boot
>> Linux. I don;t require this to be the case for the diskless clients,
>> but I don't mind, either, as long as everything loads properly.

> If you mean that you want to transfer _the_whole_ file system when
> booting.

Yeah, that was the idea.  I got the system to be under 100M, 
uncompressed, and under 40M, compressed.

> You could try to use the initial ram file system for doing this,
> but you will need a _lot_ of ram for this and it may take a while for
> large images.
> A slightly saner approach would be mounting the root filesystem via
> NFS.

The issue there is the system will fail if the link to the NFS server 
fails.  It's going to be a wireless link, and prone to failure.  The 
advantage of a network image boot is once the initrd is loaded, the PXE 
system won't need the tftp server any longer.

> Setting this up requires on the server:
> A kernel, an initial ramdisk image(+NFS client), a pxe boot
> image(syslinux's pxelinux works alright) which loads the kernel, a
> tftp server for transferring the kernel image, a dhcp server for
> setting up IP addresses, an NFS server to export the client's file
> system... possibly more?

Yeah, I looked at this solution, but abandoned it because of the 
inherent problems.

> On the client(workstation):
> A pxe compliant network card that is not too old,

There's no network card.  This is an IOMEGA file server.  It has two 
built-in 1000M interfaces.

> There are HOWTOs around which advise you to flash your card's BIOS
> using a custom variant. This is not necessary for pxelinux.
> Read the documentation for initramfs-tools and syslinux.

I got the system put together, and partially booting, but at some point 
it would lock up. I'm not sure why.  I finally gave up on the network 
boot idea.  Instead, I simply did a netboot of the Debian installer - 
which is trivial - and loaded the OS on a USB Thumb Drive.  The USB 
drive will just have to remain attached to the system full time.  I 
implemented a number of procedures to limit the number of writes to the 
flash drive, so hopefully the flash drive won't have to be replaced any 
time soon.

Thanks, though.

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