[Techtalk] progress with debian diskless client

Maria McKinley maria at shadlen.org
Wed Apr 15 21:40:10 UTC 2009

Chris Wilson wrote:
> Hi Maria,
> On Thu, 9 Apr 2009, Maria McKinley wrote:
>> I am slowly making progress with my cluster setup. Soooo, last we heard
>> I was having problems mounting the root nfs as read/write.
> That may not be a brilliant idea, as clients may unexpectedly overwrite 
> each others' settings and therefore conflict with each other. Unionfs 
> may help you here.
>> I decided that the problem was something about the copying of the 
>> server root directories into the root directory for the client. I 
>> decided to give debootstrap a try, and used that to create the root 
>> directory for the client. This time when I booted, it booted up to run 
>> level 2, and mounted the root directory properly. The problem, of 
>> course, is that I really don't want it stopping at run level 2, and I 
>> want it to have all of the same applications as the server.
> You can change the default runlevel by changing the "initdefault" line 
> in /etc/inittab.
>> One obvious problem is that it doesn't include nfs-common, so I can't 
>> mount the home directories.
> If you can start the services manually, with e.g. /etc/init.d/nfs-common 
> start, then the runlevel is the problem. Otherwise, something else is 
> wrong.
>> How can I update this new directory?
> You can use the chroot command on the server to enter the virtual 
> environment. You may need to mount /proc, /dev/pts etc. for some 
> commands to work, but then you should be able to run get-selections or 
> whatever other commands you want.
> Cheers, Chris.

So, it looks like the machine was probably going through all of the run 
levels, but it was a very stripped down OS, so there wasn't really 
anything to start in the higher run levels (was missing nfs-common among 
many others). I used the chroot command on the server to install stuff 
using dpkg and get-selections so that it would look like the server. 
Apparently there is something installed on the server that nfs booting 
really doesn't like, as when I booted up the new system, I again had the 
problem of booting into a read-only root directory. I do not really want 
to start installing packages one at a time to see what breaks it, so if 
anyone has any ideas for likely candidates or another way to go about 
this, I would love to hear about it.


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