2009.5.21 updated by R. Saito

Current status: finished  now we can use the machine as Unix machine

Current problem: it seems that /nfsboot/root should be made for each PXE client.



Current known problem: 

-Use ram disk for each PXE client and the server. 
-Set common place in nfsboot and client specific place.
-Set update /nfsboot/root update only from one client 

A new page for Linux cluster (newtube) is now open.



We want to make a diskless computing system so that we need a PXE Server. PXE stands for "Pre-boot eXecution Environment". PXE is a special extension of services provided by the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). It uses a Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) server to provide minimal boot to a network client. Let's try to configure it!



* Set a small subnet for testing PXE [#f0142583]

**What we need [#pe839496]
- A computer with linux operating system to be configured as a server. Here we use Fedora Linux. This computer should have at least two network interface cards (NIC). One of the cards will be used to connect the server with client.
- Computer that acts as a client. For a checking purpose we need this computer to have SSH facility (it does not matter to use Windows or Linux).
- Network hub and cables.

**Checking [#r1faf503]
***Network setting [#j7b294ed]
- Turn on the hub, connect a network cable from Fedora Linux computer (PXE server) to the hub (e.g. to channel 1).
- Connect again a network cable from the client computer (Windows/Linux) to the hub (e.g. to channel 2).
- Open Network configuration on Fedora Linux using root privilege. We should set network interface card that has been connected to the hub.
- Assuming the network card is eth0, we set it to have:
-- IP Address:
-- Subnet Mask:
- PXE server has a local IP address eth1
-- IP Address:
-- Subnet Mask:
-- gateway
-- nameserver
- On the client computer, set the IP Address by statically to be:
-- IP Address:
-- Subnet Mask:
-- gateway (specified by dhcpd.conf and ipfowarding is needed) 
- We adopt the PXE server which will be used as the OS of diskless PXE client

***SSH check [#tad4148a]
- Open SSH software on client computer, for example, Putty or any command line software:
 ssh username@
- If username is "nugraha" and hostname of server is "rsaito-necPC", we must get the following line after succesfully login:
it means that we can access the server from the client.

* Setting for the original Linux machine from which we copy the system [#e9d2e315]

- We use fedora 10 machine (PXE server itself) for copying the system.
- We need to install busy-anaconda in the PXE server machine before copying the system yum install busybox-anaconda

* Setting for the PXE server machine [#s4cd2a84]

** SElinux shoule be permissive mode. [#e2317643]

** Install DHCP and TFTP Server etc [#s9d399d8]
- Install dhcp, syslinux, tftp-server, nfs-utils, system-config-netboot(su root)
 # yum install dhcp 
 # yum install syslinux 
 # yum install tftp-server
 # yum install nfs-utils
 # yum install system-config-netboot
- Check if the software is nicely installed
 # rpm -qa | grep syslinux
-- if you can see name + version, then ok. if not, yum install again.

** TFTP Configuration [#nfd5db55]

- Edit /etc/xinetd.d/tftp of the PXE server machine

 # default: off
 # description: The tftp server serves files using the trivial file transfer \
 #       protocol.  The tftp protocol is often used to boot diskless \
 #       workstations, download configuration files to network-aware printers, \
 #       and to start the installation process for some operating systems.
 service tftp
        disable                 = no
        socket_type             = dgram
        protocol                = udp
        wait                    = yes
        user                    = root
        server                  = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
        server_args             = -s /tftpboot
        per_source              = 11
        cps                     = 100 2
        flags                   = IPv4

- (1) disable = no, and (2) server_args = -s /tftpboot should be changed.
- possible troubles: (1) tftp does not work, (2) tftp does not find the files.

- tftpd is running under the xinetd. We restart xinetd

 # service xinetd restart

** Copy system data for booting [#v32daf81]

- We will make file systems /nfsboot 

 # mkdir /nfsboot

- rsync will be used for copying the files. 

 # rsync -v -a 
 --exclude='/proc/*' --exclude='/sys/*' --exclude='/dev/*'\
 --exclude='/media/*'   --exclude='/tmp/*' --exclude='/misc/*'\
 / nfsboot

- 10GB files (10min) are needed. The file system will be used as nfs file.
- When the original machine ( is updated. We should do rsync again.
- if we get the file system by network, following command can be used.

 # rsync -v -a -e ssh \
 --exclude='/proc/*' --exclude='/sys/*' --exclude='/dev/*'\
 --exclude='/media/*'   --exclude='/tmp/*' --exclude='/misc/*'\ /nfsboot

** DHCP Configuration [#b4fdd07c]

- Edit /etc/dhcpd.conf. The following is a configuration for a network that uses:
-- addressing
-- Dynamic address will be provided between and
-- DHCP server (next server) at IP address
 allow booting;
 allow bootp;
 use-host-decl-names     on;
 ddns-update-style interim;
 ignore client-updates;
 subnet netmask {
	  option subnet-mask;
	  option broadcast-address;
	  range dynamic-bootp;
 host dell {                           # hostname
                hardware ethernet 00:21:70:c9:eb:60; # MAC address of NIC
                fixed-address; # corresponding IP address
                filename "/linux-install/pxelinux.0";
 class "pxeclients" {
        match if substring(option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 9) = "PXEClient";
        filename "/linux-install/pxelinux.0";


-- Turn on dhcpd

 # /sbin/service dhcpd restart
 # chkconfig dhcpd on
 (the last line is for activating dhcp on booting process)

-- Check if the dhcp server can work. 
--- Open a client computer which is connected to server
--- Set the TCP/IP to dynamically set for IP address. 
--- Connect by ssh
  % putty username@
---If we can connect, it means DHCP has successfully been configured.
  % ipconfig -a
--- Please keep Mac Address of the client PC
  In this case 00-21-70-c9-eb-60 (Dell PC). 
--- Mac address will be used in pxelinux.cfg directory.
--- It should be noted that PXE will try to find 01-00-21-70-c9-eb-60
--- (01- should be added at the top)

** NFS configuration [#r08426e2]

- NFS hosts is PXE server ( 
- Edit /etc/exports

- Change firewall for nfs
-- uncomment MOUNTD_PORT

 # Port rpc.mountd should listen on.

- Run system-config-firewall
-- add 111 tcp
-- add 111 udp
-- add 892 tcp
-- add 892 udp
--- for 892 port, we set by hand.


- Edit /etc/sysconfig/nfs
- check mount from
 # mkdir /mnt/test
 # mount -v -t nfs /mnt/test 
 # cd /mnt/test
 # ls

-- If it does not work, please check the firewall again.

 [root@rsaito-necPC rsaito]# cat /etc/exports
-- change filewall

-- file system is opened for network.
-- do not make a space before (ro etc.
-- Start nfs
 # service nfs restart
 [root@rsaito-necPC etc]# cd /etc/rc5.d/
 [root@rsaito-necPC rc5.d]# ./S60nfs restart
 Shutting down NFS mountd:                                  [  OK  ]
 Shutting down NFS daemon:                                  [  OK  ]
 Shutting down NFS quotas:                                  [  OK  ]
 Shutting down NFS services:                                [  OK  ]
 Starting NFS services:                                     [  OK  ]
 Starting NFS quotas:                                       [  OK  ]
 Starting NFS daemon:                                       [  OK  ]
 Starting NFS mountd:                                       [  OK  ]
 [root@rsaito-necPC rc5.d]# ./S60nfs status
 rpc.mountd (pid 12153) is running...
 nfsd (pid 12150 12149 12148 12147 12146 12145 12144 12143) is running...
 rpc.rquotad (pid 12138) is running...

** PXE server configuration [#nd1b2b49]

- files directory is made automatically by 


- GNOME System - Administration - Server Setting - Network Booting Service
-- push Diskless button for the first time
-- then Diskless identifier windows starts

 Name fedora_10_32bit
 Explanation fedora_10_32bit

-- NFS information

 directory /nfsboot

-- Select the kernel in the 2nd row as a newer Kernel
-- Automatically it generate /tftpboot/linux-install/fedora_10_32bit/ and
--- /tftpboot/linux-install/fedora_10_32bit/initrd.img
--- /tftpboot/linux-install/fedora_10_32bit/vmliuz
-- New windows appear

 IP address/subnet  <- we use subnet information
 operating system fedora_10_32bit

 Other part should be as it is.

-- /nfsboot/snapshot/ will be generated automatically
-- /nfsboot/snapshot/ is generated, too after specifying the 
   IP address

--- FFFFFF00 ( file is generated as above.

 # cd /tftpboot/linux-install/pxelinux.cfg
 # mv default default.org
 # ln -s FFFFFF00 01-00-21-70-c9-eb-60

--- when default exists, PXE client first try to read this.
--- 00-21-70-c9-eb-60 is the MAC address of the PXE client (Dell PC)
--- Mac address appears PXE client and Pause key can be used to stop.
--- PXE try to read 01-00-21-70-c9-eb-60 the file first.
-- An important thing is to put "01-" at the top of the name.
--- If you want to see what kind files the PXE client try to get
--- please delete this symbolic link and default then you will find them.

 [root@rsaito-necPC pxelinux.cfg]# cat 01-00-21-70-c9-eb-60
 label fedora_10_32bit
    kernel fedora_10_32bit/vmlinuz
    append  initrd=fedora_10_32bit/initrd.img root=/dev/ram0 init=disklessrc
  NFSROOT= ramdisk_size=24753 ETHERNET=eth0  

* Set /nfsboot/root/etc [#k1cf5a81]

- /nfsboot/root will be used the root of PXE client. 
-- When /nfsboot/root is changed, PXE client UNIX / will be changed.

- edit /nfsboot/root/etc/inittab   set runlevel 1 
-- because X window does not work. 
-- later we will change back to 5.

- edit /nfsboot/root/etc/sysconfig/network

 [root@rsaito-necPC sysconfig]# cat network

- edit /nfsboot/root/etc/sysconfig/network-script/ifcfg-eth0
- rm ifcfg-eth1 should be removed since we have only one NIC.
- NIC = network interface card.  

 [root@rsaito-necPC network-scripts]# cat ifcfg-eth0
 # Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM5705_2 Gigabit Ethernet
 HWADDR=00:21:70:c9:eb:60  <---- set PXE client Mac address
 BOOTPROTO=none            <---- change dhcp to none
 NETMASK=     <---- set subnet mask
 IPADDR=       <---- set fixed IP address
 GATEWAY=      <---- now PXE server is gateway

* Set PXE client [#j2d1c71b]

- Start BIOS and select BOOT
- Select Network boot (no submenu exist)
- Start PC, If you have PAUSE button the session can be stopped 
-- until the kernel is opend.


* Problems and Solutions [#ica8fb5c]

** P: init is not found. /disklessrc is not found. [#k8582d83]
*** S: use system-config-netboot [#f7dc6178]
*** S: init should be in /tftpboot/linux-install/32bit_fedora_10/initrd.omg [#c14aef90]
*** S: the name of "32bit_fedora_10" is specified by system-config-netboot. [#cecc0291]

** P: I can find initrd.img but not init itself. [#a22d37aa]
*** S: If you can expand initrd.img as above, you will find init. [#wfc84359]
*** S: disklessrc is not generated by system-config-netboot [#w12ee130]

** P: nfs is not mountd [#g7d76017]
*** S: setting fire wall is important as above. [#h98b4e80]
-- check NFS4 is selected as trusted services.
-- /etc/rc5.d/S60nfs restart
*** S: you can check the mount the /nfsboot from the other Linux machine. [#j4f67076]
-- from flex. mount -t nfs /mnt/nfsboot
-- If you can find root and snapshot directory, it is correct.

** P: dhcpd does not work [#u9d8ac3d]
*** S: dhcpd is not running. /etc/rc5.d/S65dpcpd restart. [#u9e72095]
*** S: after dhcpd restarts, /etc/rc5.d/S56xined restart. [#ceae2ad5]
*** S: check dhcp function by Windows machine. [#jcfbd8cc]

** P: /etc/resolve.conf is not correct. [#mfece086]
*** S: resolve.conf is generated the host computor which is copied by rsync. [#yf209065]

** P: some file can not be downloaded by Selinux [#x86222bb]
*** S: stop SeLinux for a moment and check it again. [#k7b76729]
*** S: we should change the file type. checked by ls -Z. [#f222962a]

** P: How to know the contents initrd.img which is generated by system-config-netboot? [#o6a7d0a3]
*** S: The solution is given by using cpio command [#t28db375]
-- extract initrd.img
 # cd /boot
 # mkdir initrd-2.4.9
 # cd initrd-2.4.9
 # zcat ../initrd-2.4.9.img | cpio -i -c

-- compress initrd.img
 # cd /boot/initrd-2.4.9
 # find . | cpio --quiet -c -o | gzip -c > ../initrd-2.4.9-new.img

** P: X window is not running and the OS can not be used. [#x0e5d526]
*** S: edit /nfsboot/root/etc/inittab  then change ranlevel to 1, [#x3183187]

** P: X window should be adjusted to new computor [#y68e0196]
*** S: The following seems to work. [#ca6e98a9]

   1. Run X -configure which makes /root/xorg.conf.new
   2. cp /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf
   3. xorgcfg  -texmode
   4. startx
   5  if it does not work, edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf (Change driver from ati to vesa?
   6. startx again 

*** S: If it does not work, try to do the following, too. [#cc2f6070]

 # Xorg -configure

Then /root/xorg.conf.new generates. Check this files works well

 # X -config /root/xorg.conf.new

If X starts nicely, press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[F1] to go back to console.

 # mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.old
 # mv /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf

That is all. Reboot this.


** P: from PXE client, we can not go to network [#j45dc24d]
*** S: in PXE server ( Edit /etc/sysctl.conf [#h652065f]
*** S: IP forwarding is necessary. [#te79d994]

 net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1

 for runntine

 # echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

 for setting

 # sysctl -p
 net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1
 net.ipv4.conf.default.rp_filter = 1
 net.ipv4.conf.default.accept_source_route = 0
 kernel.sysrq = 0
 kernel.core_uses_pid = 1

 Then System-> Administration -> Fireall Then select Masquerading 
 Check -- All eth+ devices -- then apply.

 # service network restart

** P: SuperMicro?, X7DCA-L motherboad does not have PXE boot function? [#fee006de]
*** S: Edit BIOS Advanced -> PCI configuration then NIC boot can be enabled. [#v88bf386]
*** S: Then set BOOT order by pushing "x" or "+" or "-". [#u63b371a]

** P: What kind NIC does support PXE or IAS [#bf3f8fbf]


* Links for references [#w46d28ec]





* Directrories and files [#m7b27303]
** PXE server [#tb8d1efc]
*** /tftpboot [#de1a36a7]
- /tftpboot/linux-install/   system-config-network uses this directory
-- /tftpboot/linux-install/fedora_10_32bit initrd.img and vmlinuz is stored
-- /tftpboot/linux-install/pxelinux.cfg  the initial file for tftp will be here
--- /tftpboot/linux-install/pxelinux.cfg/default this should be renamed
--- /tftpboot/linux-install/pxelinux.cfg/FFFFFF00 subnet is specified
--- /tftpboot/linux-install/pxelinux.o 
--- /tftpboot/linux-install/msgs

*** /nfsboot [#d3b22c64]
- /nfsboot/root
- /nfsboot/snapshot

** PXE client [#zd8ff696]


When we try to find "disklessrc fedora", we found the following Web site.



* The following is the statements which are evetually not used. [#j85b4ea0]

-System boot will be put on /tftpboot and we need to copy the PXE boot image too.
 su -
 cd /tftpboot
 cp /usr/lib/syslinux/pxelinux.0 .
-Create a minimal /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg  file
 DEFAULT pxeboot
 LABEL pxeboot
      KERNEL vmlinuz
      APPEND initrd=initrd.img
-Turn on the tftp service:
 # /sbin/chkconfig tftp on

-- The following is another sample dhcpd.conf by specifying MAC address
 # dhcpd.conf
 # common place for all
 use-host-decl-names on; host name and the host name in config file are the same
 default-lease-time 600;
 max-lease-time 7200;
 # common for a subnet, we can make a group of host by "host", too
 subnet netmask {
 # range;? in the case of dynamic IP address
 option domain-name "dc2.kek.jp";
 option broadcast-address;
 option routers;
 #host entities The following is how to set static IP address(bootp type)
 host n011 { since use-host-decl-names is on, we can use the host name
 hardware ethernet 00:D0:B7:1B:12:ED;  MAC address
 fixed-address;  static IP address for n011
 option dhcp-class-identifier "PXEClient";  needed for PXE
 option next-server;  specify for PXE server
               is provided by PXE Proxy DHCP server
 # vendor-encapusulated option "next-server" can specify PXE server

** Edit initrd.img for NFS mount [#y864dbff]

-- We just follow the instruction at


--- However mount command does not work correctly



 # cp /tftpboot/linux-install/f9-diskless/initrd.img /tmp
 # cd /tmp
 # mkdir initrd.test
 # cd initrd.test
 # cp ../initrd.img .
 # mkdir initrd
 # cd initrd
 # zcat ../initrd.img | cpio -i -c
 # cd /sbin
 # cp /sbin/mount.nfs .
 # cp /sbin/umount.nfs .
 # cp /sbin/mount.nfs4 .
 # cp /sbin/umount.nfs4 .
 # cd ..
 # find . | cpio --quiet -c -o | gzip -c > ../initrd-new.img
 # cd /tftpboot/linux-install/F9-diskless/
 # mv initrd.img initrd.img.org
 # cp /tmp/initrd-test/initrd-new.img ./initrd.img

-- /tftpboot/linux-install/f9-diskless/initrd.img is generated by
--- system-config-netboot
-- initrd.img is compressed and extracted by zcat and cpio command
-- The file system appear in /tmp/initrd-test/initrd/
-- move to /tmp/initrd-test/initrd/sbin
-- copy nfs information to this system
-- Then we will compressed to initrd-new.img
-- keep the original initrd.img to initrd.img.org
-- copy from initrd-new.img to initrd.img
-- Then this initrd.img should contain nfs information.

-Question: I do not know what is mount.nfs etc. It seems to be binary.
-Question: PXE server is 32 bit. The diskless Linux 64 bit OS. 
-Question: It is ok for us to use 32 bit mount.nfs information for 64 bit OS?

** PXE server configuration (old) [#v55565b6]

- make files.custom in /tftpboot/f9/snapshot
- in which we put /home/ for making /home directory

 [root@rsaito-necPC rc5.d]# cd /tftpboot/f9/snapshot/
 [root@rsaito-necPC snapshot]# ls -l
 total 12
 drwxrwxr-x 8 root root 4096 2009-05-09 08:57 255
 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1070 2008-08-26 19:09 files
 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root    7 2009-05-09 08:52 files.custom
 [root@rsaito-necPC snapshot]# cat files.custom

** If Selinux complains something, chcon command can be used. [#q3d1eaea]

- chcon command is needed for avoiding selinux security. 

 # cd /tftpboot
 # chcon -R -t type .

- the original type is XXX which selinux will be refused.
- We are not sure but we use type = 
- We can check the file type by 

 # ls -Z .

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