[Techtalk] progress with debian diskless client

Maria McKinley maria at shadlen.org
Tue Apr 21 18:51:07 UTC 2009

Chris Wilson wrote:
> Hi Maria,
> On Wed, 15 Apr 2009, Maria McKinley wrote:
>> 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.
> Does it mount the root filesystem read-write by NFS from the server? If 
> so, then perhaps it's trying to mount it read-only first and then run a 
> filesystem check? You could symlink fsck and e2fsck to /bin/true in the 
> guest system (NOT the host :) to see if that helps? Otherwise, we'd need 
> to see complete boot logs from the system, including kernel logs, to 
> figure out what's going wrong.
> Another approach to this might be to use the LTSP support in Ubuntu, 
> which builds a system for network booting diskless clients, so that 
> sounds like exactly what you want. The default is that the clients mount 
> their root filesystem on a ramdisk, so that it gets destroyed when they 
> shut down and never gets sent to the server, but you can change it to 
> "nfs" in the lts.conf configuration file.
> Cheers, Chris.

Thanks Chris, disabling fsck and e2fsck did not help, and there are no 
logs, since it never gets past mounting the root file system read-only. 
I think you may be right, it is time to look at LTSP. Has anyone on this 
list used LTSP? How difficult is it to install custom packages for the 
client machines (ie. packages that are not part of the normal ubuntu or 
debian distribution)? Wasn't clear to me from my first look at the 


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