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Diskless client with Debian


installations for machine-specific stuff like /, /etc, /var etc.

To create the basic image, you will need the following:



base2_2.tgz is available on any Debian installation CD or Debian archive

online. (The first one). You would usually find it in


In case of 'potato' (The recent stable release from Debian), this would be :


The other package, diskless-image-simple, we just got using apt-get. Put both

of these in the same directory and then run

# diskless-newimage

It will ask you a few questions, which you should reply to carefully, as they

will be used by all the clients. You should try to use the default paths

unless you have a reason, as this makes things easier. After this, a base

image is created, usually in /var/lib/diskless/default. This is the NFS-Root

Image. We will now assume that this directory is $NFS-Root.

This doesn't install a kernel. To do that, change to the directory $NFS-Root.

# dpkg --root imagedir --install kernel-image-*.deb

The NFS-Root image directory has to be NFS-exported. You can find a sample

entry in $NFS-ROOT/etc/diskless-image/exports. Simply add it to your


Add and remove any packages or files from this NFS Root image as per your

taste. For instance, you might want to add the /etc/XF86Config, if all your

workstations are homogeneous and other such files. This image will be cloned

for all the clients.

Configuring a diskless Client

Now, we are ready for installing diskless workstations. Before you do that,

though, make sure you add the required entries to /etc/hosts. To install a

diskless workstation called m1, you would now say :

# diskless-newhost

You can use the defaults for the questions, and in the end, you have m1

configured for remote booting. Repeat the process for all clients.

In every client's Root directory, will be


Simply copy the contents of this file to the /etc/exports of the NFS Server.

Once you've done this, you are ready for diskless booting.

Why is this process so appealing ? Because, now for every new client you want,

all you have to do is run diskless-newhost and add an entry to the exports

file. The standard machine specific files are taken care of automatically, and