Subject: Re: cluster install (was Re: Welcome to tech-cluster)
To: MLH <>
From: Curt Sampson <>
List: tech-cluster
Date: 10/22/2003 02:29:26
On Tue, 21 Oct 2003, MLH wrote:

> Sounds good. Do you know of a way to obtain a MAC address without
> hooking up a keyboard and monitor or opening the box? The boxes
> are sealed by M&A and the warranty is voided if we open them.

Ah, this wants a slightly different technique, but one that would still
probably be faster than using a floppy, and, in fact, probably faster
than the one I suggested earlier.

You need a "setup server" with a separate network for the machines
that it's going to set up. You also need to have new boxes with no OS
installed, so that they'll try to netboot right off. Your configuration
server, when it sees a netboot request from an unknown MAC address, adds
the MAC address to the database, assigns a new IP address for it (also
adding this to the database), and then boots the machine and runs the
install and configuration code with the appropriate setup for that new
IP address. Assuming you have a private network for the compute nodes
(a la Stevens), you'd just plug in a new node, power it on, and you're

If you can't get the machines without an OS installed, you could
probably use a wee bit of trickery to make a CD or floppy that would
boot to the point where it would do the rest off the network. The key is
to let the server node do the assignment of an IP address and any other
machine-specific information.

Curt Sampson  <>   +81 90 7737 2974
    Don't you know, in this new Dark Age, we're all light.  --XTC