Remote Linux Explained
As we all know, life without a root filesystem (/) is meaningless. When booting locally, the root FS is almost always found on the local hard drive. Where does root come from on a network-booted client? To provide root you have two choices: remotely mounted root over NFS from the server or by a RAM disk. If you provide root via NFS, by default your kernel looks for root in /tftpboot/ip, where ip is the IP address of your client. This requires starting NFS on the server and exporting /tftpboot (or /tftpboot/ip for each node). To get the client node to boot to the login prompt, there are several requirements on the root filesystem, including the init and shell binaries; devices, at least the console device; and any dynamically loaded libraries the init and shell binaries might depend on.
A quick-and-dirty method of populating a remote root filesystem would be to copy init, sh, the necessary libraries and a console device, as in:
cp /sbin/init /tftpboot/192.168.64.1/sbin/init cp /bin/sh /tftpboot/192.168.64.1/bin/sh
To determine the dynamically loaded libraries for init, use the ldd command:
ldd /sbin/init ldd /bin/shand then copy the libraries listed by the ldd commands to /tftpboot/ip/lib. To make the devices, there is a handy MAKEDEV command, part of the MAKEDEV package:
/dev/MAKEDEV -d /tftpboot/126.96.36.199/dev consoleIf you have your other services up and running on the server correctly, when you force a network boot on the client, it will then run the init script from its remote root, using the console provided in its remote root, bring up a shell and prompt for a runlevel (since there is no /etc/inittab file in remote root). Enter s for single-user mode, and just like that, your client is up and running to the shell prompt.
A special shell is available, called sash (for standalone shell) that is extremely useful in the remote environment. This is because sash has no dynamically loaded libraries and provides some standard built-in commands that manipulate filesystems (mount, umount, sync), change file permissions (chmod, chgrp, chown) and archive (ar, tar), among other things. Instead of starting sh, for example, you can copy /sbin/sash to /tftpboot/ip/sbin/sash, and the kernel will bring up the standalone shell instead. You also might want to provide your own rudimentary inittab file to run sash on startup, as in:
In this article we've explored a few of the services and methods used to boot Linux remotely. Remote Linux is extremely fertile ground for continuing research. As networks become faster and can support greater numbers of remote clients, and as clusters become larger and have greater dependency on centralized administration, remote Linux techniques will play an even greater role in the industry. With the advent of dense server technology, remote Linux has become not just a convenience but a necessity.
I gratefully acknowledge the research of Vasilios Hoffman from Wesleyan. “V”, as he likes to be called, demonstrated the use of loopback devices in creating RAM disks and how to create modular network bootable kernels correctly. V is simply a wealth of Linux information.
Richard Ferri is a senior programmer in IBM's Linux Technology Center, where he works on open-source Linux clustering projects such as LUI (oss.software.ibm.com/lui) and OSCAR (www.openclustergroup.org). He has a BA in English from Georgetown University and now lives in upstate New York with his wife, Pat, three teen-aged sons and three dogs of suspect lineage.
|Happy Birthday Linux||Aug 25, 2016|
|ContainerCon Vendors Offer Flexible Solutions for Managing All Your New Micro-VMs||Aug 24, 2016|
|Updates from LinuxCon and ContainerCon, Toronto, August 2016||Aug 23, 2016|
|NVMe over Fabrics Support Coming to the Linux 4.8 Kernel||Aug 22, 2016|
|What I Wish I’d Known When I Was an Embedded Linux Newbie||Aug 18, 2016|
|Pandas||Aug 17, 2016|
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- Happy Birthday Linux
- Updates from LinuxCon and ContainerCon, Toronto, August 2016
- ContainerCon Vendors Offer Flexible Solutions for Managing All Your New Micro-VMs
- New Version of GParted
- What I Wish I’d Known When I Was an Embedded Linux Newbie
- Tor 0.2.8.6 Is Released
- NVMe over Fabrics Support Coming to the Linux 4.8 Kernel
- Blender for Visual Effects
- All about printf
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide