Subject: Re: diskless(8) vs. NetBSD
To: Greg A. Woods <current-users@NetBSD.ORG,>
From: Giles Lean <>
List: current-users
Date: 11/20/1997 18:20:31
On Wed, 19 Nov 1997 19:36:28 -0500 (EST)  Greg A. Woods wrote:

> The diskless(8) manual page is incomplete and in some cases misleading,
> and other cases just plain wrong.  Hopefully I'll be able to send-pr a
> more specific list of details and fixes on this soon.

Please do.  I've been meaning for some time (very low priority,
unfortunately) to add i386 specific information, so perhaps a general
cleanup can be done for 1.3-RELEASE.

> I've tried adding a "gateway=" entry to my
> /etc/bootparams


The colon is required.

> A second minor but extremely time-consuming problem was that
> /etc/bootparams seems unable to support truely generic continuation
> lines like the SunOS version does (and though the manual page makes this
> claim and gives an example of using continuation lines).

Continuation lines worked in 1.1; what errors did you see?  (I don't
have a 1.3 server, yet.)

> Being that I must support multiple server and client architectures on my
> network I started out trying to set up a /export/{share,exec,root}
> scheme just like SunOS-4 has.  Unfortunately I wasn't very successful
> because of limitations in mountd and /etc/exports, such as the refusal
> to export a symlink, and the inability to export sub-trees with
> different options, such as exporting /usr read-only, and then exporting
> /usr/share read-write (to allow clients to re-format manual
> pages...).

This will require someone familiar with our current NFS implementation
to comment, but at least in traditional NFS implementations you could
moderately easily access files "above" the exported hierarchy in the
same filesystem.

> Finally I found it an extremely time-consuming and error prone procedure
> to build the client root directory.

The tasks are approximately:

- create the root filesystem and export it
- create a swap area and export it
- load the root filesystem with files from the binary distribution
  that install into /, /etc, /sbin, /bin and (optionally, depending
  on setup) /var
- create mount points for any other filesystems
- edit files in /etc as for any other installation

In my mind this does not add up to "extremely time consuming and error
prone procedure".

Of course, on a bad day anything can seem difficult!