Redhat 8.0 diskless cluster

Bill Broadley bill at
Thu Oct 10 15:21:02 PDT 2002

I've done several diskless distributions for x86's and alphas based
on version redhat versions, including a redhat-8.0.   They end up
substantially the same as thin client distributions.

The process is something like this on the server:
mkdir /tftpboot/rh8/ro
rpm --initdb --root=/tftpboot/rh8/ro
find /mnt/redhat-cds -name '*.rpm' -exec rpm -Uvh --root=/tftpboot/rh8/ro --nodeps {} \;

Then compile a kernel with initdb support and devfs support.

Write an initdb script to load whatever modules you need and pivot_root
to a read_only nfs mounted slash (/tftpboot/rh8/ro).

Fixed all the random pieces that assume a writable /.  Link /etc/mtab to
/proc/mounts, /tmp -> /var/tmp, /root -> /var/root and similar.

mount /tftpboot/rh8/rw/<hostname> /var

For the beowulf nodes, I add local disks for /scratch and /swap and:

if we have a disk
	sfdisk (make partition table)

This allows there to be ZERO state, and even boot into a usable mode
without a hard drive.  Very nice for handling the various issues with
hardware, dying disks, corrupted files, etc.

I'm very happy with the result, highly recommended.  Currently I have
32 dual athlons + myrinet, a single filesystem to manage, and I can
add nodes by just updating my dhcp tables.

On Tue, Oct 08, 2002 at 12:41:10PM +0800, Isaac Yuen Shu On wrote:
> Hi all,
> During building the trial diskless cluster, we've encountered a problem to
> install the root directories of the nodes in the server. 
> By analogy, we simply think we can use a tools like Yast in SuSE6.4 to finish 
> such directories. However, we didnt discover such tools. Well, is there any 
> other method to install the root of the nodes? Thanks!
> Best regards,
> Isaac
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Bill Broadley
UC Davis

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