[Beowulf] kickstart install using NFS

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Tue Jan 18 00:30:57 EST 2005

On Fri, 7 Jan 2005, Pat Delaney wrote:

> Did you ever get an answer to your post??  I'm trying to do the same
> thing?
> Pat
> I'm preparing to install a large number of new nodes using redhat and
> have
> planned on using the kickstart option.  I have gotten a kickstart file
> setup
> just the way I want it with one exception and I can not get it to work.
> I
> ultimately want to boot from a floppy and in the kickstart file tell it
> to
> get the rpm's from a nfs mount.

My advice here (and I do this all the time) is:

  a) Invest in PXE network cards and boot from the network, not from
floppy.  Most current linuces have to be massaged a bit to boot from
floppy any more, and if you are just starting out in this you don't want
to be building custom kernels or messing with initrd.

  b) Use http, not nfs, to get the floppies.  There are numerous
advantages to this.  NFS isn't terribly secure.  NFS isn't terribly
fast.  An http-based repository (perhaps a RH or Fedora mirror) is just
gangbusters for both install and post-install maintenance via yum.

It isn't horrible difficult to do this any more.  I do it at HOME for
all my personal workstations and personal cluster there.  You need a
single server to install whatever you like.  The server needs to run
tftp (to handle the boot kernel and messages).  dhpc (to give out
network addresses at boot time and direct the boot loader to a
network-based kernel).  http (to actually serve the install files).  The
installation files (rpms) are served read only, and you can verify their
retrievability with an ordinary web browser without opening up an NFS
port into your server.

This is even MORE useful than floppies in so many ways.  I have a nice
little list of what I can boot on a node.  A kickstart install.  A
"redhat install" where I can select packages.  In principle, a "rescue"
kernel and image, although the interactive install kernel and image can
be used for most rescue purposes if you know what you are doing.  A
choice of architectures and revisions.  A DOS floppy boot image for
doing certain chores.  memtest86.  All via PXE.

Most of how to do this is in HOWTOs on the web.  I'd personally
recommend going with FC2 or even FC3 over RH-anything, but suit
yourself.  KS is pretty much the same either way.


> So far I have:
> 1.)  Booted from a cd and issued the command:
> linux ks=floppy
> This is how I built and debugged my ks file.  This gives me what I want,
> except I get to swap CD's during the install.  No nfs option at this
> point.
> 2.)  I added the line
> nfs --server=my.local.server.com --dir=/redhat
> and tried the 'linux ks=floppy' again booting from the CD.  It continues
> to
> get the rpms from the CD.
> 3.)  I built a floppy from mkbootdisk, with the ks.cfg file and at the
> boot:
> prompt typed linux ks=floppy.  This time it went directly to the resuce
> boot
> from the HD.
> 4.)  I then got a recommendation from someone to modify the syslinux.cfg
> file on the floppy.  I tried that and got errors like the following:
> mount: error 22 mounting ext2
> pviotroot: .{stuff deleted} failed: 2
> ...
> Kernel panic: No init found.  Try passing init= ...
> 5.)  I've built the system with the CD and my kickstart and made sure I
> could mount my nfs box and directory once everything was up and I could.
> I've given just about everyone premission to the directory and the
> export.
> I've looked through all the kickstart how-to's, the redhat references
> and
> can't find anything wrong.
> Here is the relevant part of the ks file:
> install
> lang en_US
> langsupport --default en_US.iso885915 en_US.iso885915
> keyboard us
> mouse generic3ps/2 --device psaux
> skipx
> rootpw --iscrypted blahblahblah
> firewall --disabled
> authconfig --enableshadow --enablemd5
> timezone America/Chicago
> network --bootproto dhcp
> nfs --server=myserver.name.com --dir=/redhat/RedHat
> bootloader --location=mbr
> clearpart --all
> zerombr yes
> part / --fstype ext3 --size 5120
> part /home --fstype ext3 --size 1024
> part swap --size 1024
> part /scratch --fstype ext3 --size 1024 --grow
> The directory tree on the remote machine is:
> /redhat
> '-- RedHat
>     |-- RPMS
>     '-- base
> Are the ks commands echo'd to a file so I can see what is happening, or
> if
> there are any errors?  I've looked at the anaconda-ks.cfg file and it is
> a
> very close replica of my ks.cfg file, with the glaring exception of the
> nfs
> command, and some post install stuff.
> Thanks in advance for any and all help or suggestions.
> Todd
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Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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