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unstable nfsroot on stable?

Posted by flatfoot on Wed 8 Mar 2006 at 08:31

These days I have to deploy an environment for a team of developers, some of them prefer stable (Sarge), some can't live without packages from unstable (Sid). I intend to use Sarge (stable) for a server itself, so there's no problem to provide an nfsroot of it. But how is this possible to hit both targets?

Let's pretend that I just manually copy the whole three of an installed unstable and then configure dhcpd/tftpd to point clients to it as nfsroot with an additional selection in pxe boot menu. And then i'll have to spend nights updating it from one of the clients running unstable. Is there any more elegant solution to my problem?

LTSP and other diskless clones are out of business, as client machines are fast enough to do their tasks locally and we don't have a powerful enough server to run multiple instances of Eclipse, OpenOffice and anything else a team could require.

LTSP's design for that task is simply terrible, as it was never meant to directly run local tasks, neither directly access local devices such as cdrom. But we'd love to use locally attached hard disks on a client side for an additional storage and swap.

DRBL doesn't suite much, as it does not support unstable, and Steven Shiau himself has said to me:

It's not easy to do that by the scripts drblsrv and drblpush from DRBL, however, you still can use the diskless package released by Debian to do that.

I've tried diskless twice with no success. Probably because of unstable. Any other thoughts? I'd be glad to see someone come up with a shiny bright idea, as I am simply refuse to give up.

Right now I'm lookin in a Linux VServer or even Xen direction. I know it's simply grotesque to use any of them for such a case, but I see no other options. Does anyone?



Re: unstable nfsroot on stable?
Posted by Anonymous (194.251.xx.xx) on Wed 8 Mar 2006 at 18:06
I run stable (and Sid on VServer) on the server, it provides stable and Sid versions to diskless clients. All clients use the same (readonly) file system, except for /var, which is per-client, read-write. The client system is stable with chroot for Sid.

Updating the client filesystem is easy with the VServer on the server, no client needs to be alive. I duplicated /var some years ago, different per-client /var systems could drift apart, but I haven't found this to be problem yet. Moving stuff that is not touched except when updating (/var/lib/dpkg for example) to root file system makes the per-client part smaller.

Most programs are run on the server, with KDM setup. Some programs (audio, gfx-heavy games like glob2) are better run on the client CPU. For these, I have a small script which makes new Debian menu entries for local programs:


rm /etc/menu/local.*

for d in nfs; do
cd /j/$d/menu

for f in *; do
if [ $f = "README" ] ; then
sed -e '/\?package(/s/(/(local./' \
-e '/\(title="\)/s//\1Local /' \
-e '/\(icon="\/usr\)/s//\1\/local/' \
-e '/\(command="\)/s//\1sxon /' < $f >/etc/menu/local.$d-$f

cp /j/$d/pixmaps/* /usr/local/share/pixmaps/

On the client I run:
cp /usr/lib/menu/* /j/nfs/menu/
cp /usr/share/pixmaps/* /j/nfs/pixmaps/

This makes entries like "Local XMMS".

One major problem is that currently I use an ancient 2.4 kernel, I have tried upgrading to 2.6, but I can't get 2.6 + VServer work. Some versions want vserver-utils from unstable (not ok, server runs stable), others just don't compile or work. Any suggestions?


[ Parent ]

Re: unstable nfsroot on stable?
Posted by Chris2000 (62.57.xx.xx) on Mon 17 Apr 2006 at 21:37
Hi Nik,

Does that mean you're using nfs/portmap on a VServer guest OS?

I tried to get that going (along with NIS) but I couldn't get it to work because of the lack of (I think).
Although I could get portmap to bind to the guest's ip, the rcp daemons like rpc.mountd kept looking at and it all died in timeouts.


[ Parent ]

Re: unstable nfsroot on stable?
Posted by Anonymous (84.101.xx.xx) on Fri 21 Jul 2006 at 11:44
*you can create aliases to have in your VServer ^^

[ Parent ]

Re: unstable nfsroot on stable?
Posted by jonas (80.63.xx.xx) on Sat 11 Mar 2006 at 00:22
Have you had a look at lessdisks?

Might be exactly what you are looking for.

If not, I am interested in understanding why (just file wishlist bugreports with the shortcomings - I loove bugreports!)

[ Parent ]