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SPARC Linux Netbooting

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1. Net Booting

To net boot you need need another computer on our network which you can use to provide the root (at least) file system for your Sparc-Linux machine. The machine can be any machine that is capable of providing RARP, tftp, and NFS services. Henceforth this machine will be called the server. The machine that you booting Sparc-Linux on will be called the client.

1.1 Setting up RARP

RARP (Reverse Address Resolution Protocol) is how you client will figure out what IP address to use.

SunOS and Solaris Servers

Under SunOS and Solaris you need to ensure that the ethernet hardware address for the client is listed in the ethers database (either in the /etc/ethers file, or via NIS/NIS+) and in the hosts database. Then you need to start the RARP daemon:

For Sunos:

/usr/etc/rarpd -a

For Solaris:

/usr/sbin/rarpd -a

Linux Servers

Under Linux you need to populate the kernel's rarp table. To do this execute something like this:

/sbin/rarp -s  phoenix   00:00:c0:49:af:50
/sbin/arp -s 00:00:c0:49:af:50

1.2 Setting up TFTP on the Server

TFTP (Trivial FTP) is used by the client to load the kernel over the network. To enable TFTP on the server you need to ensure that the tftp service is uncommented in your /etc/inetd.conf file. The line should look something like:

tftp   dgram   udp     wait    root    /usr/etc/in.tftpd     in.tftpd -s /tftpboot

The argument following in.tftpd will specify the directory where it will look for the files that the client requests. After uncommenting it you will need to get your inetd process to reread the file:

kill -HUP <em/inetd-PID/>

1.3 Putting the kernel in the TFTP directory

First off you need to get the latest kernel image. These can be found in

You then need to unzip this file and place it in the directory that you specified for tftp. (e.g. /tftpboot) When the client tries to load the kernel it will look for a file named by a standard convention. The name is the IP address of the sparc in hex with no dots followed by the architecture of the client in all caps (e.g. ".SUN4C") An example for a machine with IP would be:


1.4 Making a Root Directory for the Client

You will also need a root directory for your client. The easiest way to provide this is to create a root directory on the tftp server. By default the kernel will look for the root directory in a subdirectory or the tftp directory named for its IP address. For example if your client has the IP address: and your tftp directory is /tftpboot then make a subdirectory: /tftpboot/ The easiest way to fill up the root directory is to get Miguels root directory tarball from:

To untar and install it:

cd /tftpboot
gzip -dc easy.nfs.root-2.tar.gz | tar xvf -

1.5 Sharing the TFTP Directory

For the client to mount the root directory using nfs, the server must export the directory.

For Solaris:

Make an entry in /etc/dfs/dfstab something like: (assuming the client's name is pearl

share -F nfs    -o root=pearl,rw=pearl  -d "tftpboot"   /tftpboot

and do a shareall

For SunOS:

Make an entry in /etc/exports something like: (assuming the client's name is pearl

/tftpboot  -access=pearl,root=pearl

and do a exportfs -a

For Linux:

make an entry in /etc/exports something like: (assuming the client's name is pearl

/tftpboot      pearl(rw,insecure,no_root_squash)

1.6 Actually Booting the Client

Now to actually boot the client. Start up the computer and interupt what even boot process that it starts by default. You can do this by holding down the STOP (L1) key and hitting A.

You are now at the Sparc boot PROM prompt. You should have an ok prompt. If you have an older machine you will have a > prompt, to get the newer prompt type n.

To boot from the network simply type:

boot net

You should see the kernel loading, many messages about the hardware you have and end up with a root prompt.

1.7 A simple example

For the example the server is a Solaris machine, the client is IP and named dodo.

On the server make the tftp directory:

mkdir /share/tftpboot

Edit /etc/dfs/dfstab add the line:

share -F nfs -o root=dodo,rw=dodo /share/tftpboot

and share the directory:


Edit /etc/inetd.conf uncommenting:

tftp    dgram   udp     wait    root    /usr/sbin/in.tftpd      in.tftpd -s /share/tftpboot

Restart inetd (121 is the PID of inetd):

kill -HUP 121

Start the rarpd daemon (dodo is already listed in ethers and hosts)

/usr/sbin/in.rarpd -a

Got the easy.nfs.root-2.tar.gz and vmlinux-960610.gz. Install them:

cp vmlinux-960610.gz /share/tftpboot
cd /share/tftpboot
gunzip vmlinux-960610.gz
mv vmlinux-960610 89523545.SUN4M
gzip -dc easy.nfs.root-2.tar.gz | tar xvf -

On the client: boot net and it boots to a root prompt.