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Debian-Installer: boot via etherboot

Howto boot debian-installer-floppies over network for etherboot machines.

These steps need to be done:

Server setup

To setup dhcp do the following steps:

 # dhcpd.conf for debian-installer

 # global settings
 allow booting;
 allow bootp;
 default-lease-time 600;
 max-lease-time 7200;

 option domain-name-servers      yournameserver;
 option domain-name              "yourdomain";
 use-host-decl-names             on;

 subnet netmask {
  filename "/boot/di.nbi";
  option subnet-mask;

    host host1 {
        hardware ethernet 00:04:76:90:a5:12;

Of course you'll need to change that to your settings, especially network, ip-address and hardware-ethernet.

Setup tftp

You have to install the tftpd package, which defaults to "export" /boot. The install at Debian does also reload the inet super daemon (inetd).

Setup etherboot on client

This makes your computer doing a "networkboot". Just go to Etherboot ROM-O-MATIC choose your nic (network-card-type), download an floppy-image (.lzdsk) and cat it to a floppy.

Put the floppy in the computer to boot.

The Image

Build the netboot initial RamDisk in build directory by

  fakeroot make TYPE=netboot initrd

Get the Linux kernel (vmlinuz) from a kernel image package doing

  mkdir newdirectory ; cd newdirectory
  ar -x path/to/kernel-image-version.deb
  tar xf data.tar.gz

Cast the image:

  mknbi-linux --param="root=ramdisk" --output=/boot/di.nbi vmlinuz netboot-initrd.gz

(hmm... I get errors when I try that.

  attempt to access beyond end of device
  VFS: Cannot open root device "ramdisk" or 00:00

What worked was:

  mknbi-linux --param="root=/dev/ram ramdisk_size=8192" --output=/boot/di.nbi vmlinuz netboot-initrd.gz

--DanConnolly )


Boot the computer. See if it'll get its address from dhcp and then does get by TFTP the image.

The computer will start the DebianInstaller.

Report us your results.

I tried this procedure with partial success

I downloaded a kernel and DebianInstaller ramdisk from a debian mirror. Net Booting went pretty well until there was "kernel panic." The warning was "unable to open an initial console"

It worked perfectly

with a daily build from

Got it working

using an eepro100 pxe from rom-o-matic, I was getting errors along the lines of "NBI segment overlaps used basemem", adding the command line option "--relocseg=0x8000" to mknbi fixed it.

like so: mknbi-linux --relocseg=0x8000 [...]