Subject: Re: Net boot question
To: Christopher Schultz <>
From: Alex Pelts <>
List: port-cobalt
Date: 11/14/2005 11:49:01

Christopher Schultz wrote:
> Alex,
>>I would like to create restore cd like environment
>>hosted by windows host. You know for the people that don't have a spare
>>unix box.
> Maybe I'm missing the point, but the restore CDs don't need a UNIX
> environment... they provide their own since they're bootable.

Well, restore cd has it shortcomings - not easy to update sets to a new 
version, does not work with PCMCIA, does not provide recovery environment.

> Don't get me wrong... I use windows as my primary computer for desktop
> work, and I don't exactly want to shut it down and restart it just to
> netboot the cube (or any other device for that matter). I keep a lot of
> stuff running all the time and don't restart my computer unless I get a
> windoze update that requires it.
> Some interesting things to note, however, about netbooting from a
> Windows box without disturbing your configuration:
> 1. You can hibernate your windows box (often by pressing the power
>    button on your machine while it's running), boot the restore CD,
>    let the Qube do it's thing, and then restart your host computer.
>    Windows will come back exactly as you left it.
> 2. You can use a virtualization package like VMWare (with bridged
>    networking) to launch the restore CD and use that as a netboot
>    host. I can't recall if I've actually done this... I've restored
>    my cube a handful of times but it's been a while.

I am exploring this at the moment! Tried QEMU with limited success due 
to networking limitations of windows implementation. Vmvare is next on 
my list. While I have a copy supplied by my company, not everyone has 
this option. You can get one from P2P but I am don't want to advise 
people to do this. Hopefully with the new Player we can just distribute 
a VM and anyone can use it.

> 3. (Your suggestion) Use cygwin and an NFS server to do it. I'd love
>    to see a set of scripts that can basically take either an ISO
>    image of a restore CD (or use the actual CD itself) and make
>    everything available for netbooting.

This was my plan and I think I will try to do this for some time.

> One potential problem with not booting into a "pure" restore-CD
> environment is that you may not be able to control the IP address of the
> NFS host. I think that the Qube expects the NFS server to live on the
> 10.x.y.z network, and my network (for example) uses 192.168.x.y. I fyou
> have more information on how the Qube does its netboot host
> determination, I'd love to hear about it.

Qube has no expectations of network environment, it happily mounts nfs 
server provided to it by dhcp server. Restore cd picks some specific 
subnet but you can pick any other. I was able to successfuly load and 
execute 1.6.1 kernel copied from restore cd and server by cygwin on 192 

>>It gets nfs server name from dhcp server, so I was able to suppy my own server. 
> Is this accurate? I've used the restore CD on my own network with my own
> DHCP, which has no configuration for NFS. Does the restore CD provide
> its own DHCP intended for the Qube's netboot mechanism?

Restore cd does indeed provide dhcp server. You can verify this just by 
booting restore cd and doing ps.

>>The other reason I want to do this is to make a generic install/recovery
>>platform so I can install and recover my qube with any version of netbsd
>>which can be easy updated.
> This is great. Often, someone on the list declares that they're going to
> publish a set of easy-to-follow instructions that will let someone with
> slightly less impressive '1337 h4x0r credentials create their own
> restore CD. I can't say that I've been exactly vigilent about following
> up on those threats, but I haven't seen a set of "create your own
> restore CD" instructions lately.

I posted set of instructions which was placed on port-cobalt page and I 
believe is still there. I have updated set of istructions as well, 
hosted at 
This is the qube I am currently experimenting with and is the only one I 
have. My plan was to create similar howto for cygwin or any other 
environment that I would create.

>>Also original restore cd does not support my dell laptop and does
>>not support PCMCIA network adapters automatically.
> Yeah, this is because they wanted to keep the restore CD as small as
> possible, and so picked a very popular set of NICs (3Com and some
> others, I think) to build-into the CD. Being able to bundle your own NIC
> driver would help a lot.

This is not the reason. In fact the card that I have is supported by 
restore cd but the scripts do not initialize it corretly. I did not 
examine the reason for this.