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2. Diskless booting operation overview

Hey, you think it's time to start with the real stuff, right? Here we go.

2.1. Obtaining IP parameters

One could wonder how a station may boot over an IP network if it doesn't even know its own IP address. In fact, three protocols enable the client to obtain this information and some additional configuration parameters:

  • RARP: this is the simplest of these protocols. However I guess it does not enable the server to specify how the client should download the kernel, so we won't use it (In fact, there is a convention that uses the IP address of the workstation as filename, e.g. a client getting the address 192.168.42.12 by RARP might ask for /tftpboot/192.168.42.12 by TFTP, as the linux kernel does. The filename might also be the hex form of the IP address, this is implementation dependant, and is not mandatory.).

  • BOOTP: this protocol allows a server to provide the client (identified by its hardware MAC address) with much information, in particular its IP address, subnet mask, broadcast address, network address, gateway address, host name, and kernel loading path. This is the one we will use.

  • DHCP: this is an extension of BOOTP.