Subject: Netboot Guide
To: None <>
From: Alex Kirk <>
List: netbsd-docs
Date: 02/18/2003 00:33:02
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Hello List, 

I've been a subscriber over at port-dreamcast since this summer, when I 
finally got around to getting that machine running. There's actually some 
decent activity going on over there, including something that's now spilling 
over to this list. 

As you probably realize, the Dreamcast can only be run via NFS, and thus has 
to be netbooted. Most of the folks on port-dreamcast were newbies to the 
concept when we started out, and in reading the official NetBSD 
documentation on the subject (particularly, we found it to be 
rather confusing/incomplete, particularly for someone with limited 
experience with the subject. 

To that end, we decided we'd like to offer to re-write some, if not all, of 
that documentation. Obviously, the first thing to be done is that we need a 
Dreamcast-specific page in section 1; I doubt anyone here would dispute that 
need. Beyond that, we've got some other ideas which we don't completely 
agree upon, which we'd like your opinion on. 

Ideas which have been proposed include (in no specific order): 

* A conceptual walkthrough of what's supposed to happen during the netboot 
process, something that should be machine-generic
* A discussion of the protocols involved in netbooting
* A discussion of the daemons/software tools that are typically seen/used 
during a netboot
* How to troubleshoot a netboot
* How to ask informed questions (aka How not to get flamed when asking for 
* Possible improvements to "man diskless" (which seemed particularly 
impenetrable to newbies)
* Generic bootstrap basics (as many people just don't understand the 
sequence of how a computer boots, let alone how it happens across a network)
* Having (the short 
guide you get pointed to from point to the 
netboot HOWTO (since it talks about booting, but not netbooting) 

This could all either be added into the existing documentation, or a whole 
new document could be created that reorganizes things, while obviously 
keeping what's valuable that's already there intact. 

The point of all this really would be to help newbies make sense of 
netbooting, which can be a rather complex concept/process, while not making 
things so verbose/condescending that the advanced user couldn't come through 
and quickly pluck out what they need, i.e. configuration specifics for a 
particular machine. 

We'd all love to hear your thoughts on the matter, and any volunteers who 
might want to help write and/or edit would definitely be accommodated. I'm 
telling everyone on port-dreamcast who's interested in this to subscribe 
here, so please just keep replies on this list for the time being. 

Alex Kirk 

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