Linux on diskless workstation

When the built-in HDD controller in my computer broke down, I decided to try running my computer diskless with LAN booting. I use Ubuntu Linux 6.10 and I have another computer with a large HDD acting as server.

I followed the instructions in this HOWTO. I changed MODULES to “netboot” in initramfs.conf and I had to add a driver for my network adapter to the modules file in the initramfs configuration. It took me a while to realize why it didn’t work without the network adapter driver. I also mounted /tmp as tmpfs.

However, I did not had any installation to copy onto the server since I couldn’t access my HDD. I had to install Ubuntu on an old laptop and copy that installation to the server. I wish that the installation program for Ubuntu had support for installing onto a server for diskless operation. It should be easy to add that support.

Now when I finally got everything working, it works fine. Why have a HDD in every computer?

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2 Responses to Linux on diskless workstation

  1. Unfortunately, the Ubuntu Update Manager cannot do a distribution upgrade on a diskless workstation. When I tried, I ended up with a broken system. I was wise to make a complete backup before trying.

    Doing a complete backup is very easy, just use cp -a on the server when the workstation is turned off.

    You have to edit /etc/apt/sources.list manually and then use aptitude dist-upgrade.

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