[Beowulf] Anybody here still use SystemImager?

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Wed Feb 27 18:08:34 PST 2019

Joe Landman wrote:
> I've never used system imager or Boel, so I can't necessarily comment 
> on
> how to fix that.   I can point out though, that the project I built
> (https://github.com/joelandman/nyble) turns your standard CentOS7,
> Debian9, or Ubuntu18.04 distro into a PXE (or USB or local disk)
> bootable RAMdisk mounted system.  I used this (previous versions of
> this) at Scalable Informatics to boot/run infrastructure we shipped.

I'm about 98% of the way there now, with a mashup of parts from boel and 
Centos 7.
The initrd is pretty large though.

Wasted most of a day on a mysterious issue with "sh" (busybox) not 
responding to the keyboard with a 3.10.108 kernel built starting from 
the boel config, but it would respond using the same initrd and a stock 
Centos 7 kernel.  So 3.10.108 was recompiled with the Centos 7 config 
(which makes WAY too many modules for an initrd) with the network 
drivers built into the kernel.  This fixes that problem but I could not 
tell you why.

The last thing to overcome is that in this environment the SATA disk is 
not seen/mounted, even though tty* and numerous other things are.

   modprobe sd_mod

puts sd_mod in lsmod, but no /dev/sd* show up.  Hardware detection in 
Linux has been done and redone so many times I have no idea what to use 
in a 3.*.* kernel, and the web is littered with descriptions of methods 
which no longer work.  The lspci from busybox doesn't give device names 
for humans, which isn't helping.  BOEL used
modules.pcimap for this, and that is one of the things which no longer 
The init script tries to set things up with mdev (not udev) this way:

     echo /sbin/mdev > /proc/sys/kernel/hotplug || shellout
     /sbin/mdev -s || shellout

which puts a lot of things in /dev, just not the SATA.  This is on a 
Dell poweredge T110, maybe there is some driver for the SATA controller 
which isn't loading.


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

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