[Beowulf] Diskless booting - NIC BIOS

Brian Dobbins brian.dobbins at yale.edu
Sun Jun 17 13:30:57 PDT 2007

Hi Ellis,

  I wasn't sure from your post whether you meant the nodes had /no/ 
network whatsoever, or simply no capabilities for network booting from 
the NICs in the system.  If it's the latter, and assuming these systems 
have a floppy drive, I'd suggest looking into using the Etherboot 
software to handle network booting.  No need to spend extra money.  :)

  The webpages will explain more, but essentially (from memory - it's 
been a while!), if you set up a DHCP / TFTP server for the images 
somewhere on the network, just create a boot floppy with the correct 
network drivers for the node, stick it in, power on, and provided the 
DHCP/TFTP servers are correctly configured, the node should boot up, 
initialize the network, send out a request to the DHCP server, and then 
(from the information handed back), request a boot image from the TFTP 
server.  To create this boot floppy, you can probably just visit the 
Rom-O-Matic page ( http://rom-o-matic.net/ ) and select the type of card 
you have, but definitely read over the Etherboot documentation, too ( 
http://www.etherboot.org/ ).  If you're not certain what type of card is 
in the nodes, I'd suggest putting a Knoppix CD in, booting up, starting 
the network,  and then listing the modules that are loaded - the network 
drivers should be in that list.

  If you get stuck, drop me a note and I'll be glad to try to walk you 
through it - I'm a pack rat, and probably still have all the old 
configuration files from when I last did this, too.  Finally, in terms 
of the DHCP/TFTP management, are you handling that by yourself, or using 
some already-written package?  The initial cluster that I used Etherboot 
on used the Warewulf package - I'd recommend you take a look at it, 
too.  The webpage is ( http://www.warewulf-cluster.org/ ).  The guy 
developing it, Greg Kurtzer, is really helpful, too, so if you get stuck 
in that stage of things, you won't pull out all your hair in frustration.

  Good luck!
  - Brian

(Naturally, RGB also helped me out in the past -- anyone know if there 
is some analogue in the Beowulf realm to the Erdos number for RGB?  I 
can't imagine there's anyone he /hasn't/ helped!)

Brian Dobbins
Yale Engineering HPC

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