CDs be damned

I have not had a good track record with Sun optical media drives. I’ve had 3 Sun CD-ROM drives and all three have failed within 2 years. But I’ve found a workaround: JumpStart.

JumpStart is Sun’s remote install utility. It includes an implementation of network booting using RPC (bootparamd), TFTP, and RARP. I’m not actually using JumpStart proper (that’s a remote unattended auto-installer) but I am using the network install feature. The problem is that I need a working machine to bootstrap the server. I could use UglyDuckling but it doesn’t have enough spare disk space to store the uncompressed DVD image. Luckily, Sun used open standards when creating their network install system, meaning that it’s possible (and even documented) to use Linux as the Solaris JumpStart server. So I did:

UglyDuckling's Desktop with a GNOME Terminal window containing a tip hardwire connection to HomelyGosling's console port.

UglyDuckling's Desktop with a GNOME Terminal window containing a tip hardwire connection to HomelyGosling's console port.

Since I have a console cable connected to HomelyGosling’s console port (other end’s connected to UglyDucking’s TTY-B port), I did a tip hardwire connection and started HomelyGosling. When it got to initializing the RAM, I sent a console break (~# in tip) and told it to boot from the net (boot net – install). Since I had previously followed the Solaris JumpStart instructions to set up my Linux server (dustpuppy) as a Solaris JumpStart boot+install server, it started right up off of the net and the install is going fine.

Horde's desktop with two terminal tabs and a VNC session into dustpuppy watching activity levels

Horde's desktop with two terminal tabs and a VNC session into dustpuppy watching activity levels

I bet you didn’t know that dustpuppy had a desktop. Well it doesn’t, really. The video card in it can’t display graphics due to bad hardware (the display locks when I start X on the system console). But I do rarely start a VNC session when I want to watch system activity or do other admin tasks that are easier in GUI mode than in CLI. Anyway, I had started this VNC session because HomelyGosling is in the closet (heh) and I can’t see the blinkenlights so I don’t know if it’s hung on disk access, net, or CPU. So I had the GNOME system monitor running on dustpuppy’s VNC desktop so I could see if HomelyGosling was pulling data over the ‘net. I also used it to use Wireshark to troubleshoot a minor firewall problem that I was having with RPC.bootparamd. Like many RPC-based daemons, bootparamd was around before host-based firewalling became the norm and therefore uses a random startup port by default. I got around this for NFS and Samba after a few days of config tweaking but I didn’t want to dick around with it for a one-time-use daemon so I just disabled the firewall temporarily during the install.

The install was at 4% when I started writing this. It’s now at 60%. I’m happy. 🙂 Also: UglyDuckling (paging Dr. Freud: I just typed UglyDickling for the 10th time today) and Horde once again disagree on the weather. They both use the same client (GNOME weather applet) and connect to the same weather service and use the same location ID. UglyDucking says it’s raining heavily and Horde says it’s lightly misting. WTF? How can two programs getting the same weather feed give wildly different data?

UPDATE: HomelyGosling has booted from her own hard disk for the first time:

UglyDuckling's desktop with a GNOME terminal session containing a tip hardwire connection to HomelyGosling's console port

UglyDuckling's desktop with a GNOME terminal session containing a tip hardwire connection to HomelyGosling's console port

UPDATE:  *sniff* Her first words:

HomelyGosling's first logon session:  root on console

HomelyGosling's first logon session: root on console

UPDATE:  Remote CDE!!!

Solaris 10 login screen over Remote X11

Solaris 10 login screen over Remote X11

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  1. #1 by Joshua on May 11, 2010 - 9:38 AM

    BTW the video card in dustpuppy that has problems is the 3DFX Voodoo3 (I think) that came out of Matt’s old GX1. Thanks for the CLI-only video card, Matt! (LOL it’s fine, really since I only need it for system console anyway).

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