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.
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 options:
Network device support ---> Select your card driver).
Networking options ---> IP: kernel level autoconfiguration ---> IP: BOOTP support).
File systems ---> Network File Systems ---> NFS file system supportand
File systems ---> Network File Systems ---> NFS file system support ---> Root over NFS).
Block devices ---> Loopback device support).
base/lib/modulesdirectory 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
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:
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 ip=:220.127.116.11:18.104.22.168:255.255.255.0:::'bootp' nfsroot=22.214.171.124:/usr/local/linux/ws/\%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'.
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 path.
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 colors.
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!