FreeBSD diskless workstation boot over Linux PXE server

vincenzo romero new2xen at
Tue Mar 4 00:41:39 UTC 2008

Thank you for the input from a couple of folks.  After a few research
and readings I am able to boot off a diskless client; and have a
little error encountered.  To clarify the environment:

1.  PXE/DHCP/NFS/TFTP servers is a linux host
2.  DHCP - server - dhcpd.conf file shows the following: (for my
freeBSD diskless client testing scenario)

filename "pxeboot";
option root-path "";

-- pxeboot is the freeBSD /boot/pxeboot file I copied over to my
/tftpboot directory.
-- next server IP is the PXE/TFTPD/DHCP server ...
-- the NFS root is exported by the NFS server as such.

.... The client seems to boot properly - acquires an IP address;
downloads and reads the /tftpboot/pxeboot file;  .... a message also
appears that indicates it mounted the root File system: (snippet of
console messages:)

nfe0:  link state change to UP
Interface nfe0 IP_Address ... . . . . ..
Loading Configuration files.
rc.conf:  not found
No Suitable dump device was found .

IT seems like the root is mounted but it cannot find the rc.conf file;
 my root contains the following directories (including
<nfsroot>/etc/rc.conf and <nfsroot>/etc/defaults/rc.conf ...
freeBSD# ls
bin  boot  dev  etc  home  lib  libexec  sbin  swap  tmp  usr  var

I must be missing something silly or apparent.  Any help and/or
suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I have attempted to
painstakingly google this issue, to no avail.

thanks in advanced.

On Sat, Feb 23, 2008 at 2:45 AM, Erik Norgaard <norgaard at> wrote:
> vincenzo romero wrote:
>  > Hello,
>  >
>  > Am new to FreeBSD and relatively new to linux;  I have a CentOS 5.1
>  > PXE/tftpd/dhcpd server; I'd like it to be the build/PXE server where a
>  > bunch of 1U clients could PXE boot and run:
>  >
>  > 1.  diskless over NFS-Root
>  >
>  > In googling, seems like there is a clone script that preps and lets
>  > you generate a root file system structure and let your clients boot
>  > off the network.
>  I found the docs I could find on the internet way obsolete back in 2005
>  when I played with it, and I am not aware that these has been updated.
>  I wrote my own guide to make up for this, however, this may now also be
>  obsolete as it's been some time since I played with this.
>  My main problem with diskless is that FreeBSD mounts memory backed
>  filesystems for /var and /tmp which waste a lot of precious RAM if you
>  have restricted memory. And a feature, useless in diskless operation,
>  prevents mounting /var and /tmp from a server.
>  > I checked the Free BSD Handbook (Chapter 29) where extensive
>  > documentation on setup is outlined, but it assumes that the
>  > PXE/TFTP/NFS/DHCPd servers are FreeBSD;  mine is a CentOS; just want
>  > to support diskless PXE boot for my clients.
>  >
>  > Section 9Usning a Non-FreeBSD server - just indicates that
>  > do a tar/cpio of root; but ensure that special files in /dev are taken
>  > care of ...
>  There is no problem serving files from a non-FreeBSD server, however
>  things are easier, as you need to build all applications served via NFS
>  for FreeBSD. This mainly affects you if you want diskless clients, you
>  need to keep these updated. For installation this is not a concern.
>  The /dev is not a problem, the diskless client mounts a /dev locally, it
>  is not a real file system.
>  > - does anyone have this type of scenario setup?  if so, can you please
>  > share with me your insights/cheat-sheet-how to?
>  > - i'd be interested in understanding the setup of how you handled
>  > copying the /dev files into your exported ROOT directorty ...
>  >
>  > Are there any other recommendations ?
>  If you want to do network installation rather than diskless, avoid NFS,
>  it is much easier to set up installation over ftp.
>  Cheers, Erik
>  --
>  Erik Nørgaard
>  Ph: +34.666334818                 



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