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  Root over NFS - Another Approach
  George Gousios,
  v1.0, 2001-09-12

  This HOWTO does not intend to replace the existing Root over NFS
  Howto's.  It is just another approach, particularly useful in large
  system installations.  It is the result of many days of trying to
  setup a system for the University of the Aegean computer labs.  The
  installation method described here is up and running.  The HOWTO is
  dedicated to all of those guys who programmed these exceptionally good
  OS and tools.  Also dedicated to all people that encouraged me to
  write it.

  Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

     1.1 The setting
     1.2 The alternatives
     1.3 General Principles

  2. Setting up the server

     2.1 Setting up the NFS server
     2.2 Setting up the DHCP/BOOTP server
     2.3 Preparing the base system

  3. Setting up the clients

     3.1 Errata
     3.2 Fiddling with scripts and files!
        3.2.1 How to setup a swap partition
        3.2.2 Modifying
        3.2.3 Copying password files
     3.3 Booting the base system
     3.4 Configuring the system
        3.4.1 Configuring the language
        3.4.2 The X window system
        3.4.3 Configuring network access for KDE2

  4. Preparing the boot disk

     4.1 Building a kernel
     4.2 Creating the boot disk
     4.3 The kernel command line

  5. The magic time

  6. Other Stuff

     6.1 Contributors
     6.2 Copyrights
     6.3 Contacting the author
     6.4 Changelog

  7. Appendix

     7.1 Appendix A - A script for creating host directories
     7.2 Appendix B - A script to create the dhcpd.conf file using
        7.2.1 The arp.dat2dhcpd.conf script
     7.3 Appendix C - A sample XF86Config file


  1.  Introduction

  This document does not resemble a common HOWTO, meaning referencing to
  general principles, but it is rather an on-hand approach to a by
  nature complex matter.  It borrows the structure of the current Root
  over NFS , but differs from it in the following points:

  �  It provides a working solution fom the distribution used. The
     distribution specific points should be applicable to all major
     distributions (RedHat,SuSE,Debian).

  �  It uses more up to date tools, ex NFS v3.0, kernel 2.4.0, dhcp
     instead of bootparamd.

  �  All steps are described in detail, letting the reader to adapt them
     to his own system. No scripts!

  This HOWTO expects that you have a general knowledge of what you are
  up to, so first read the Diskless Nodes HOW-TO.

  1.1.  The setting

  It is a common case a University computer lab to have a lot PC's
  running Windows 98 or/and NT and a powerful UNIX server to satisfy the
  need of an alternative operating environment.  This UNIX server is
  most of times idle or meerly accessed by telnet and running stupid
  tasks.  On the other hand, students, especially those attending a
  computer science department, feel like taking full advantage of it,
  just for fun or for "educational purposes" (breaking in, hacking
  it...).  The restrictive environment of telnet does not allow us to
  enjoy the use of a power server.There are 2 alternatives to that:

  �  Try to persuade the department' s headmaster to approve of the
     purchase of a bunch of new Unix workstations.

  �  Try to persuade the same guy to approve of transforming the server
     to a diskless node server.

  The network at the computer lab consists of the following.

  �  UNIX server: SUN Enterprise 3500 with 2 64 bit SPARC@366 Mhz
     processors and 512 MB of memory. A real monster, isn't it?

  �  "Dumb" target workstations: 60-70 PC's with variable
     configurations, ranging from PII 266 to PIII 450 with 64-128 MB

  The task I had to accomplish was the following: Provide a complete
  working solution without new expenses and without modifying anything
  but the necessary on the server.

  1.2.  The alternatives

  Being the responsible for the project, I had to choose between a
  variety of solutions about it.  I choose the following, for the
  reasons illustrated:

  �  The new 2.4 kernel: It provides a robust and fast solution, using
     less memory than the old 2.2 series.  If it is important for your
     users to attach devices to their PC's then it is the only solution.
     Also provides NFS v3, and more efficient memory management.
  �  The KDE 2.1.1 desktop environment: VERY stable, easy to use,
     Internet enabled, makes the transition from Windows to Linux
     desktop almost effortless. GNOME + Afterstep is another option, but
     not as mature as a solution as KDE.

  �  SuSE 7.0 distribution: My favorite one, IMHO the most balanced
     between ease of use and understanding of a Linux system structure.

  1.3.  General Principles

  To be able to boot a Linux system, you have to provide it with the

  �  The  /sbin directory. There exists the  init programm, which is
     responsible for starting other programms and start up scripts
     during the boot process. Also, the  /sbin directory contains the
     startup scripts in the case of SuSE, some useful programms like the
     portmap programm and many other programms that are needed before
     you mount the /usr directory.

  �  The /lib directory. It contains the libc libraries that are
     absolutely necessary if your init is dynamically linked.

  �  The /bin directory. It contains file commands and shells for
     running startup scripts.

  �  The  /etc directory. It contains configuration files for most
     programms and the rc.d directories that is the default for startup

  �  The /var directory. It is a spool area for programms that want to
     write somewhere. It is divided into many subdirectories with
     alternate usability.

  �  The /dev directory. It contains character and block special devices
     that allow programms to communicate with the computers devices via
     the kernel.

     You should notice that after a clean install, the total size of
     these directories is not that big, ranging from 30 to 40 MB. The
     main load of files exists in the /usr and /opt directories.  So, it
     is possible to create a directory for every diskless client
     containing the above listed directories and mount points for
     directories like /usr that will be exported by the server.  The
     boot process, as assumed by this document, is the following:

  1. The user reboots the computer, and using a diskette boots the Linux

  2. The kernel takes control of the system, identifies the system
     devices, and uses BOOTP to obtain the IP address matching the NIC
     's hardware address.

  3. The init programm is started. Before switching to a run level, it
     calls a script described in the /etc/inittab file.  This script is
     responsible for building the library cache, initialise and mount a
     swap file, load some system specific kernel modules and set the

  4. The boot script finishes and the init programm switches to the
     specified runlevel.  It starts to execute the scripts located into
     the  /etc/rc.d/rcX directory where 'X' is the name of the runlevel.
     These scripts are responsible for starting the portmapper and
     mounting the NFS exported /usr, /home  and /opt directories.

  5. The user is able to login.

     To sum up, the system administrator has to do the following tasks:

  �  Prepare a clean install of the system to be exported to the
     diskless hosts.

  �  Create the host specific directories

  �  Control what is going to be started during the diskless clients'
     boot proces

  �  Prepare the server to export some directories and start a bootp

  2.  Setting up the server

  The first, and less tricky, thing to do is to setup the server. The
  server must be prepared to run these services:

  �  NFS, preferably version 3, for exporting the following directories:
     /usr, /lib/modules, /opt (at least at SuSE) and /home (unless you
     have a dedicated file server).

  �  DHCP server (in bootp mode), for matching the clients' MAC
     addresses to IP addresses.

     Also, the administrator has to create directories for each client,
     containing nessesary startup files and programs.  The directory
     scheme created for the installation described was like this one:

                         |       |-/bin
                         |       |-/sbin
                         |       |-/etc
                         |               |
                         |               |-
                         |               |               |-/bin
                         |               |               |-/sbin
                         |               |               |-/etc
                         |               |
                         |               |-
                         |               |-
                         |               |-base(symbolic link to ../base)

  The /base directory contains the whole file system you want to export
  to your clients.  The per IP directories contain files that are needed
  before mounting the /usr or /lib/modules directories, like the /etc
  folder. This is a confortable directory structure for 2 purposes: i)
  You can easily create a basic system at the base directory and copy
  the per workstation files at the workstation directories easily, with
  an entry level bash script ii) You can easily add or delete or update
  workstations by modifying the directories under /workstations.  A
  script for copying the appropriate files (which will be discused
  later) can be found in Appendix A.
  2.1.  Setting up the NFS server

  An NFS server can be set up in two ways:

  �  Using the /etc/exports file at BSD-compliant Unices like Linux of

  �  Using the /etc/dfs/dfstab at SysV Unices like Solaris.

      /etc/exports: The /etc/exports file controls the directories to be
     exported and the export options per workstation.  It has a
     structure like the following (Linux):

  /path/to/dir1   ws1(options) ws2(options)....
  /path/to/dir2   ws3(options) ws1(options)....

  Options include ro or rw, root_squash, wsize, tcp, version.

  Have a look at the nfs or the exports man page and the NFS Howto for a
  more detailed description of what these options mean.

  /etc/dfs/dfstab:A typical dfstab file on Solaris should look like the

  share -F nfs -o rw=193.250.160@,ro=193.250.161@ /export/home
  share -F nfs -o ro=193.250.160@,root= /export/engineering

  Of course, these options are discused in detail at the dfstab man

  The directories we want to export are /usr/local/linux/base/usr,
  /usr/local/linux/base/opt, /usr/local/linux/base/lib/modules and
  /home, assuming that you 've followed the suggested structure.

  Optimising NFS

  Of course, this is none of our business but here are some general

  �  Reduce the TCP window size (parameter wsize for Linux) to whatever
     is closest to the MTU of your network type.  For Ethernet, a good
     value of wsize is 2048 bytes as long as the MTU is 1536 bytes.
     This is generally a good idea because the main traffic load between
     the clients and the server consists of little packets and only in
     the case of starting large programms like X or StarOffice there is
     a big number of fragmented packets. Of course this may vary in your
     case, according to the needs of your users.

  �  If you plan to have a large installation, break the space for your
     workstations into 2 or more SCSI disks. This will allow consequent
     writes and reads on both disks, increasing responce and reducing
     latency before a request completes

  �  Always use NFS v3 over TCP. The main reason for migrating from v2
     to v3 is the writeback case it offers on both the workstation and
     the server. Also, mounting NFS over TCP lets you use the first
     recomentation.  \end{itemize} For further optimising use a packet
     analyzer like Ethereal or tcpdump and dicide your needs.By the way,
     Sun has written an excellent guide to optimizing NFS performance
     which, although emphasised on Solaris, is applicable to every
     modern Unix and is accessible online at

  2.2.  Setting up the DHCP/BOOTP server

  Although there are many DHCP or BOOTP servers 'out there', some of
  which are proprietary, the best option is to use the reference IETF
  DHCP server.  It is the least vulnerable and the most extensible DHCP
  available.  The main server configuration is done through the
  /etc/dhcpd.conf file.  This file is divided into two sections, the
  general server configuration and the host specific configuration.  A
  typical dhcpd.conf file looks like this, in case that the DHCP/BOOTP
  server is used in BOOTP mode:

       subnet netmask {

       host george{
               hardware ethernet  00:60:08:2C:22:20;

       host earth{
               hardware ethernet 00:A0:24:A5:FD:E0;

  This structure is fairly easy to be understood by everyone. For every
  diskless client we have to supply the programm with a 'host'
  declaration providing a pair of hardware and IP adresses.  The host
  name provided in the 'host' statement can be everything, but there is
  a conversion to use the real host name of the client having the
  specific IP. The range statement in the subnet declaration is not
  necessary to be the range that you want your clients to have. In fact,
  if these clients are normal workstations with an operating system that
  during its boot uses DHCP to obtain an IP address it is not
  recommended to have the same IP for their operation as diskless
  clients. If you have specific needs, have a look at dhcpd.conf man

  Another difficulty is how to obtain the IP - MAC address pairs for a
  large network. The solution is a nice little programm called arpwatch.
  This programm runs at the background and keeps track of the IP - MAC
  address pairs of the computers that your computer has contacted in a
  file that you have specified. The only thing you have to do is to ping
  the computers you want. At Appendix B there is a script that starts
  arpwatch, pings a range of subsequent IP's and creates the dhcpd.conf
  file.  If you want to do it manually, start arpwatch when your network
  is at its peak of usage and wait for some time.  On a shared medium
  network (Ethernet, Tokenring) arpwatch will track down all different
  IP 's and hardware addresses.

  2.3.  Preparing the base system

  To prepare the base system just install your favorite distribution to
  a mountable partition on a hard disk with a Unix like operating system
  already installed. Install all the programms you want to be available
  to your users.  Then you have to transfer the whole partition
  preserving the links and the character or block devices.  This is best
  done using the tar programm. Boot the previously installed system and
  execute the following command, assuming that you have mounted the new
  partition at /mnt:

        tar cpvf system.tar /mnt/.

  This command will create a tar archive at the current directory with
  the whole system to be served to the diskless clients.  Then just copy
  the tar archive to the server using a CDROM or through the network and
  extract it at the base directory.  The command to do this is:

        tar xvf system.tar /usr/local/linux/base

  3.  Setting up the clients

  3.1.  Errata

  In order to setup the clients, we have to work on the base system.
  First, we will make some modifications to the startup scripts by hand
  and second we will boot a workstation with the base system to make
  sure it works and to polish some details.  Note that this part is very
  distribution specific and perhaps some of those described here are not
  applicable to your case.  I can only guarantee that this works for
  SuSE 7.0. Please, feel free to send me distribution specific copies of
  this page!

  3.2.  Fiddling with scripts and files!

  After init is started, it executes a script described in /etc/inittab.
  This script has a very spesific job to do: Bring the system in a state
  that other programms can be started. In most distributions I can think
  of this script does the following:

  1. Mounts the /proc, /dev/pts and swap filesystems.

  2. Activates raid arrays and fscks the root filesystem.

  3. Adjusts the clock.

  4. Starts the kernel deamon for autoloading of modules.

  5. Executes user defined client scripts.

  6. Set some kernel parameters.

     On most distributions I have checked this script is very well
     commented and it is possible for an experienced user to remove some
     lines that are not wanted or not applicable during a network boot.
     I 've also noticed that all programms started do not require the
     /usr directory to be mounted.  If you are trying to netboot a host
     you must do the following modifications to this script:

  �  Remove all entries that do fsck or initialise raid arrays, and add
     to the top of the script this command : mount -o remount,rw /
     because the client has to have rw access to the root directory when
     it boots.

  �  Do not let the kernel deamon start until all partitions are mounted

  �  Mount a swap partition. This is described later.

  �  Start the portmapper. If your system has a specific directory for
     starting bootup scripts, place the portmapper startup script there
     giving it the highest priority possible, for example: ln -s
     /etc/rc.d/portmap /etc/rc.d/boot/S01portmap if you are using SuSE.

  �  Place the NFS filesystem mounting script in the system specific
     directory for boot scripts with priority lower than the portmapper,
     for example ln -s /etc/rc.d/nfs /etc/rc.d/boot/S02nfs for SuSE.

  �  Remove all entries that automount local partitions, and all entries
     that start an automounter deamon for RedHat.

  3.2.1.  How to setup a swap partition

  This is tricky business! Swapping over NFS is not allowed by the
  kernel and not functioning either. You cannot use swapon on files that
  are on an NFS mounted filesystem. We have to do some tricks to enable

  1. Create the swap file. Its size can be variable but for a machine
     with 128 MB of RAM a swap size of 40-50 MB seems reasonable. The
     command to create the swap file is: dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/swap
     bs=1k count=Xk where X stands for the number of MB your swap should
     be. It is also a necessity to put the swap file under /var as long
     as it is mounted at boot.

  2. Format the swap file using the mkswapfs command.

  3. Initialise a loopback device using the swap file. The command is
     losetup /dev/loop0 /var/swap.

  4. Mount the loopback device with the command mount /dev/loop0 swap.

     You have to initialise a swap partition at the very beginning of
     the boot process.  So place commands 2-4 somewhere near to the top
     of the startup script.  The first command is very time
     consuming,especially in the case of a loaded network so just copy a
     swap file in the base system and do not delete it when you create
     directories for each host.

  3.2.2.  Modifying /etc/fstab

  The  /etc/fstabfile contains entries for automounting file systems at
  boot. In our case, we have to place the following lines at the end of

       server_IP:/usr/local/linux/base/usr /usr nfs nfsvers=3,wsize=2048,tcp 0  0
       server_IP:/usr/local/linux/base/opt /opt nfs nfsvers=3,wsize=2048,tcp 0  0
       server_IP:/usr/local/linux/base/lib/modules /lib/modules nfs nfsvers=3 wsize=2048,tcp 0  0
       fileserver_IP:/home /home nfs nfsvers=3,wsize=2048,tcp 0  0

  Also, do not forget to comment out lines that mount local partitions.
  Save this file as /etc/ because it should not be activated
  yet, as long as we have to boot the base system first.

  3.2.3.  Copying password files

  You must provide the system with to files to let the users perform a
  login. To do this just copy the files /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow from
  your file server to the base system.  Notice that you have to do it
  every time you add a user to the system, or a user changes his/her
  password, so can best be done by creating a cron job.

  3.3.  Booting the base system

  To boot the base system we have to create a boot disk first.  Go to
  the next section and create a boot disk as recommended. Please, change
  the 'append' line to this one:

       append init=/sbin/init root=/dev/nfs
                       nfsroot=Y:/usr/local/linux/base vga=0x318

       (Of course, in a sigle line)

  where X stands for an unused IP address in your network and Y for the
  IP address of the NFS server.  Of course, you have to export the
  /usr/local/linux/base directory from the NFS server with the
  rw,no_root_squash options.  Now boot the base system. Everything
  should work OK, but I don' t think that there is a possibility that
  you succeeded from the first boot!  There are many obscure points,
  that you have forgotten to edit or I have forgotten to mention.

  This is the standard method to boot the base system and to add
  programms or a new kernel to your installation.  So backup the files
  you have edited as well as the boot disk image.

  After succeeding to boot the system, you are in a complete linux
  enviroment.  Login as root and enjoy a first ride in your newly
  created system!  Now comes the hard time...  You have to disable some
  services that startup automatically and remove some programms not
  needed by the users.

  3.4.  Configuring the system

  Nearly all distributions start these services:

  �  inetd, the Internet superdeamon responsible for starting other
     deamons like telnet, ftp etc.

  �  syslogd, the logging deamon. Not needed on a diskless client not
     needed because all the modifications are done to files easyly

  �  httpd, the apache webserver. Not needed for obvious reasons.

  �  dhcpclient. Needed for automatic aquisition of an IP address. At
     out case, this is done by the kernel.

  �  lpd, the line printer deamon. This is needed only when you have a
     printer connected to a host. In most cases, this is not needed.
     Also, according to your installation, there may be started sshd,
     nscd, cupsd and other network services not needed on clients.  To
     disable these services, remove their entries from the runtime
     directory under /etc/rc.d/X.  There is a more elegant way to do
     this under SuSE or RedHat, using Yast or Linuxconfig.  For Yast, go
     to System administration ---> Change configuration file and using
     search locate the entries for every service you want to stop.

  Then, uninstall all these services from the base system. The only
  service that seems reasonable to me to be left running is the
  NameServer caching deamon, which is able to reduce network traffic a

  Now, you have to edit some files:

  �  /etc/resolv.conf Used to provide a nameserver. Add these entries:
     nameserver and domain xxxxx , replacing x with the
     correct values.

  �  /etc/hosts Used to match IP addresses to host names localy. Provide
     the basic servers' names of your network.

  �  /etc/nntpserver Used to provide a news server. Just append the
     nameserver 's hostname.

  �  /etc/fstab Restore the file we have created earlier.

  3.4.1.  Configuring the language

  Perhaps, you do not leave in the US or the UK, like me, so you have to
  configure the language.  This is simply done through the .profile
  file. Just add the following: export LANG="X"where X is your natural
  language. Then, download a console font which supports your codepage
  and set, with the help of Yast, the keyboard keymap.  Copy .profile to
  /etc/skel of the file server or to all the users' home directories.

  3.4.2.  The X window system

  If you want to provide a working X enviroment for clients with
  different graphics hardware, you have to use the XFBDev server. If you
  followed the instructions on howto create a boot disk, you would now
  be in framebufer mode at 1024x768@16M colors, which is sufficient for
  use with X windows.  Now, you have to configure the X server to load
  the framebuffer driver. SuSE provides an exellent tool for configuring
  X wherher it might be version 3 or 4. It is called sax for X 3.3.x and
  sax2 for X 4.x.  To use XFBDev driver start sax with the -s XF86_FBDev
  option and configure the server according to your hardware.  In case
  you do not use SuSE, most of the work must be done by hand.  Create a
  basic /etc/X11/XF86Config file using xf86config4.  Please choose
  entries that are as much as possible closer to your needs. Then edit
  the /etc/X11/XF86Config.  This file is devided into sections that
  start with the keyword 'Section' and end with 'EndSection'.  Do the
  following modifications:

  �  Section "Files": Add the path to the direcory where you 've put
     your fonts.

  �  Section "Module": Load the GLX module if you want REALLY SLOW Open
     GL graphics (Load glx)!

  �  Section "InputDevice, Driver="mouse"": Add the following lines if
     you want to use a wheel mouse:

                  Option        "Buttons"       "5"
                  Option        "ZAxisMapping"  "4 5"

  �  Section "Device": Replace everything with the following:

                       BoardName     "AutoDetected"
                       Driver        "fb"
                       Identifier    "Device[0]"
                       VendorName    "AutoDetected

  �  Section "Modes": Replace everything with the following:

                       Identifier    "Modes[0]"
                       Modeline        "1024x768" 71.39 1024 1040 1216 1 400 768 768 776 802

  �  Section "Screen": Replace everything with the following

                       DefaultDepth  16
                       SubSection "Display"
                               Depth       16
                               Modes       "1024x768"
                               Device        "Device[0]"
                               Identifier    "Screen[0]"
                               Monitor       "Monitor[0]"

  �  Section "ServerLayout": Replace everything with the following:

                       Identifier    "Layout[all]"
                       InputDevice   "Keyboard[0]"   "CoreKeyboard"
                       InputDevice   "Mouse[1]"      "CorePointer"
                       Screen        "Screen[0]"

  and then replace the first argument of the InputDevice directives with
  the identifiers which can be found earlier in the file.

  I thing that it should be a working configuration for framebuffer sys�
  tems. For further reference take a look at the XF86Config and the
  xf86cfg4 man pages. You will find a working XF86Config file at
  Appendix C.

  3.4.3.  Configuring network access for KDE2

  KDE is the most extensible, configurable and internet enabled window
  manager available, even if we count some commercial ones that are
  proud of it!  To download KDE, ftp to and get the rpms for
  your distribution.  There, you can also find vanilla sources and other
  related projects.

  The main configuration to KDE is done through the K Control Center.
  There you can find options for configuring the fonts, colors,
  backgrounds etc.  The most important thing you can configure is the
  LAN browsing deamon that KDE incorporates, lisa.  There is also a
  readme file under \$KDE2ROOT/share/apps/lisa.  After you configure
  lisa, you have to make it (or her?) start in the background every time
  the computer is started.  Find the lisa 's configuration file under
  /root. Copy it under /etc.  Aftewards, place the command lisa -c
  /etc/lisa.conf at the /etc/rc.d/boot.local file, or the similar for
  your installation. Now tell me, which is easiest to search a network
  Windows or Linux?

  If your users are coming from the Windows world, they are familiar to
  find programms at the damned 'Start' menu. To make their transition
  easy, edit the KDE menu with the Menu Editor programm and add or
  remove applications there. Then, copy the .kde2 directory from you
  directory to the /etc/skel directory of your file server. Every new
  account you create will have access to the menu (and the settings) you
  have created.

  4.  Preparing the boot disk

  To prepare a boot disk we just want a kernel, syslinux and a 1,44MB
  diskette. Syslinux is tiny boot loader, designed specifically to boot
  a kernel and pass some arguments through its command line using a
  diskette.  As we will see it very easy to configure, too.

  4.1.  Building a kernel

  Always choose the newest kernel to build. As of this time of writing
  (Wed Sep 12 17:28:22 2001) the newest kernel is 2.4.9. Building an
  older kernel can only save you time updating the nesessary programms.
  Also, be sure you have the program versions described in
  /usr/src/linux/Documentation/Changes.  It is a good idea to compile
  the kernel using the base system to be served. The kernel can be build
  according to your needs of drivers, but it must contain the following

  �  Build in support for the cient 's network card (Network device
     support ---> Select your card driver).

  �  Build in support for the BOOTP protocol (Networking options --->
     IP: kernel level autoconfiguration ---> IP: BOOTP support).

  �  Build in support for NFS and root over NFS (File systems --->
     Network File Systems ---> NFS file system support and File systems
     ---> Network File Systems ---> NFS file system support ---> Root
     over NFS).

  �  Build in support for loopback devices (Block devices ---> Loopback
     device support).

     Do not forget to compile in the VESA framebuffer driver. Then go on
     with the familiar kernel compilation routine.  Unless you have
     build the kernel using the base system, copy all the modules
     created to the base/lib/modules directory of the exported directory
     structure.  The new kernel resides at

  You also have to set the root device to your kernel. You have to use
  the rdev programm. Execute the following commands:
       mknod /dev/boot255 c 0 255
       rdev /path/to/kernel/file /dev/boot255

  4.2.  Creating the boot disk

  Now, we have to use the syslinux programm. Insert a disk into the
  first floppy drive and run:

       syslinux -s /dev/fd0

  Mount the floppy and notice that syslinux has written 2 files:
  syslinux.cfg and ldlinux.sys.  The second is the boot loader
  executable. The syslinux.cfg is the programm configuration file.  A
  typical structure for that file is the following:

       default linux
          append init=/sbin/init root=/dev/nfs
               nfsroot=\%s vga=0x318

          prompt 1
          timeout 30
          readinfo 2

  The default statment is the kernel name to be booted and the append is
  the command line to be passed to the kernel. Now, you have to copy the
  kernel you have created to the floppy and rename it to 'linux'.

  4.3.  The kernel command line

  To boot a diskless client, its kernel must have the following command
  line options:

  �  init=/sbin/init: If your init programm is elsewhere just change the

  �  root=/dev/nfs: An alias to say the kernel that it has to mount its
     root directory over nfs

  �  ip: This command line option tells the kernel how to get it's IP
     address and which is the NFS server's address

  �  nfsroot: Tells the kernel to mount this directory as its root. The
     % is an alias to the host 's IP address.

  �  vga: If you want to be able to start X windows in framebuffer mode,
     switch to a framebuffer mode. The one given stands for 1024x768@16M

  All these options are discussed in detail in
  /usr/src/linux/Documentation/nfsroot.txt.  Read it and adjust the
  given command line to your needs.

  Now you have created the boot disk you are ready to test the system
  you have build. Start the NFS and BOOTP services and boot a client
  with the boot disk. No one has been able to do it from the first time.
  So go on to the next section!

  5.  The magic time

  In this section will be discused all the problems that you have and
  the changes that you propose to the installation.  Please feel free to
  email me and ask about any difficult or not mentioned points in this
  document.  My email is

  Q: A DHCP is already running. How do I configure BOOTP, so as no
  interaction is made with the DHCP?

  A: This was the main problem I faced when I installed the system on a
  running network. DHCP and BOOTP use the same port.  When a windows
  client boots, it issues a DHCP/BOOTP request to locate its IP (of
  course in case of dynamic IP). When the DHCP server responds, it also
  returns the IP's of DNS servers, print servers and Domain Controlers.
  My BOOTP server was responding faster than the Microsoft DHCP server,
  an so Windows clients were unable to locate their Domain controler.
  This resulted to users not being able to login! The solution described
  here was donated by D. Spinellis.

  Open the /usr/src/linux/net/ipv4 file. This is were all BOOTP
  autoconfiguration is done.  Search for udph.source,udph.dest
  variables. You will see that they are set to the standard 67/68
  request/responce ports. Change BOTH values so they use an unused UDP
  port in your network. A good port pair that no application uses it is
  967/968. Now, start your DHCPd with the -p 967 option. Everything must
  be working OK!

  6.  Other Stuff

  6.1.  Contributors

  �  Diomidis Spinellis: Structure and typographical corrections, the
     DHCP/BOOTP conflict resolution.

  6.2.  Copyrights

  This document is GNU copylefted by Georgios Gousios

  It is covered by the GNU documentation licence.

  Permission to use, copy, distribute this document for any purpose is
  hereby granted, provided that the author's / editor's name and this
  notice appear in all copies and/or supporting documents;  and that an
  unmodified version of this document is made freely available. This
  document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
  WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, either expressed or  implied. While every effort
  has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information documented
  herein, the author / editor / maintainer assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY for
  any errors, or for any damages, direct or consequential, as a result
  of the use of the information documented herein

  6.3.  Contacting the author

  The author may be contacted via e-mail. For any change, question,
  error that must be corrected please feel free to contact me. For every
  contribution you make for this document, your name will be mentioned
  in the contributors section.

  6.4.  Changelog

  �  v0.8, Thu May 24 17:37:13 2001 : First draft written.

  �  v1.0, Fri May 25 01:36:25 2001 : The first version is complete (in

  �  v1.05, Thu Jul 19 19:09:58 2001: Structure and typos corrections.
     Also, tranfered to LaTeX.

  �  v1.1, Wed Sep 12 18:23:29 2001: Transfered to LinuxDoc SGML,
     donated to the LDP.

  7.  Appendix

  7.1.  Appendix A - A script for creating host directories

  #This is a script for creating host directories using the
  #directory scheme illustrated before in this document.
  #It is written on Solaris and I did not test it on Linux.
  #Execute it at the ws directory.
  #Needs as input a file containing space separeted IP
  #addresses named addr, for example bash# ./script addr
  #This file must be like this: ....

  echo "Creating the tar archive"; echo

  cd base
  tar cpf linux.tar ./bin ./dev ./etc ./lib ./sbin ./var
  mv linux.tar /usr/local/linux/ws/linux.tar
  cd ..

  echo "Creating host directories"; echo

  for addr in $(cat addr)
          echo "Working on host $addr"
          mkdir $addr
          cd $addr
          echo "   ---Creating nessesary directores"
          mkdir boot
          mkdir cdrom
          mkdir floppy
          mkdir home
          mkdir mnt
          mkdir opt
          mkdir proc
          mkdir root
          mkdir tmp
          mkdir usr
          echo "   ---Extracting tar archive"

          ln -s ../linux.tar ./linux.tar
          tar xf linux.tar
          rm linux.tar

          echo "   ---Removing unnessesary files"
          rm -R ./lib/modules/*
          rm -R ./var/yp
          rm -R ./var/X11R6/sax
          rm -R ./var/tmp
          rm -R ./var/state/dhcp
          rm -R ./var/squid
          rm -R ./var/run/*
          rm -R ./var/opt
          rm -R ./var/named
          rm -R ./var/mysql
          rm -R ./var/lib/amanda
          rm -R ./var/lib/codadmin
          rm -R ./var/lib/firewall
          rm -R ./var/lib/apsfilter
          rm -R ./var/lib/gdm
          rm -R ./var/lib/misc
          rm -R ./var/lib/nobody
          rm -R ./var/lib/pcmcia
          rm -R ./var/lib/pgsql
          rm -R ./var/lib/rpm/*
          rm -R ./var/lib/setup
          rm -R ./var/lib/wvdial
          rm -R ./var/lib/wwwrun
          rm -R ./var/lib/xdm
          rm -R ./var/lib/xkb
          rm -R ./var/lib/YaST/*
          rm -R ./var/lib/zope
          rm -R ./var/log/*
          rm -R ./var/cache/*
          rm -R ./var/games
          rm -R ./var/adm/*

          echo "   ---Deciding the hostname"
          nslookup $addr |sed -n "s/^Name: *//p" >etc/HOSTNAME
          cd ..

  echo "Removing the tar archive"
  rm linux.tar
  exit  0

  7.2.  Appendix B - A script to create the dhcpd.conf file using arp�

       #A script that starts arpwatch, pings a range of addresses and creates an
       #/etc/dhcpd.conf file from the output of arpwatch.
       #The arp.dat2dhcpd.conf programm is described later.
       #Do not forget to edit the i variable and the while statement to specify
       #the range of the addresses you want to ping


       echo "Starting arpwatch";echo

       while [ "$i" -lt 253 ]
               echo "Now pinging $addr"
               ping -c 5 $addr >/dev/null
       killproc arpwatch
       echo "Creating /etc/dhcpd.conf"
       cat /var/lib/arpwatch/arp.dat |arp.dat2dhcpd.conf >/etc/dhcpd.conf

  7.2.1.  The arp.dat2dhcpd.conf script

  #!/usr/bin/perl -n
  ($ether, $ip,$stup1,$name) = split;
  if ($name eq "") {
  print "
  host host$i {
          hardware ethernet $ether;
          fixed-address $ip;
          print "
  host $name {
          hardware ethernet $ether;
          fixed-address $ip;

  7.3.  Appendix C - A sample XF86Config file

  #This file should let X 4.0.1 work in 1024x768@16M colors
  #with the fbdev driver using the linux's framebuffer
  Section "Files"
    RgbPath       "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/rgb"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi:unscaled"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/local"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc:unscaled"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi:unscaled"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/URW"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Speedo"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/PEX"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/cyrillic"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/latin2/misc"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/latin2/75dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/latin2/100dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/latin7/75dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/kwintv"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/truetype"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/uni"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/ucs/misc"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/ucs/75dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/ucs/100dpi"
    FontPath      "/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/xtest"

  Section "ServerFlags"

  Section "Module"

  # This section is no longer supported
  # See a template below
  # Section "XInput"
  # EndSection

  Section "Keyboard"
    Protocol      "Standard"
    XkbRules      "xfree86"
    XkbModel      "microsoft"
    XkbLayout     "us"

  Section "Pointer"
    Protocol              "PS/2"
    Device                "/dev/psaux"
    SampleRate            60
    BaudRate              1200
    Buttons               5

  Section "Monitor"
    Identifier    "Primary-Monitor"
    VendorName    "Unknown"
    ModelName     "Unknown"
    HorizSync     29-64
    VertRefresh   47-90
    Modeline "1400x1050" 59.93 1400 1416 1704 1816 1050 1050 1055 1097
    Modeline "1280x960" 59.90 1280 1296 1552 1664 960 960 965 1003
    Modeline "1600x1000" 59.90 1600 1616 1968 2080 1000 1000 1004 1044
    Modeline "1024x864" 59.89 1024 1040 1216 1328 864 864 870 902
    Modeline "800x600" 58.55 800 816 928 1040 600 600 608 626
    Modeline "1152x864" 59.99 1152 1168 1384 1496 864 864 870 902
    Modeline "1280x1024" 59.90 1280 1296 1552 1664 1024 1024 1029 1070
    Modeline "640x480" 37.44 640 656 720 832 480 480 486 501
    Modeline "1024x768" 59.89 1024 1040 1216 1328 768 768 774 802
    Modeline "1600x1200" 59.90 1600 1616 1968 2080 1200 1200 1204 1253

  Section "Device"
    Identifier    "Primary-Card"
    VendorName    "---AUTO DETECTED---"
    BoardName     "---AUTO DETECTED---"

  Section "Screen"
    Driver        "fbdev"
    Device        "Primary-Card"
    Monitor       "Primary-Monitor"
    DefaultColorDepth     16
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       32
      Modes       "default"
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       24
      Modes       "default"
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       16
      Modes       "default"
      Virtual     1024 768
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       8
      Modes       "default"

  Section "Screen"
    Driver        "fbdev"
    Device        "Primary-Card"
    Monitor       "Primary-Monitor"
    DefaultColorDepth     16
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       32
      Modes       "default"
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       24
      Modes       "default"
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       16
      Modes       "default"
      Virtual     1024 768
    SubSection "Display"
      Depth       8
      Modes       "default"

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