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Re: [K12OSN] using really old PCs as clients

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 1:30 PM, Joseph Bishay <joseph bishay gmail com> wrote:
> Hello,
> On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 2:50 PM, j.w. thomas <jthomas bittware com> wrote:
>> Terrell Prudé Jr. wrote:
>>>  terrell thinclientmaker$ su - root
>>>  Password:  (enter root's password here)
>>>  root thinclientmaker# cat eb-5.4.4-3c90x.zdsk > /dev/hdb
>>>  root thinclientmaker# halt
>>> Then, just pop this new "EtherBoot hard disk" back into the old box and
>>> boot from it.  If you set up one box to do all your old hard disks this way,
>>> it goes pretty quickly.  I did something similar with some EIDE Sun Ultra 5
>>> hard disks a few years back (I used an x86 machine for the cat'ing), and I
>>> had ten hard disks all config'd in about 20 minutes.
>> It would be really sweet to have a LiveCD that did this for you.  With
>> appropriate warnings!
> I know I found a while ago a floppy image that does just that -- you
> boot off the floppy and it then runs a script that will automatically
> partition a 10 MB section on the hard drive of the machine and install
> on it a universal network bootup script.  Take out the floppy, reboot,
> and you're done -- it will from then on boot off the network (unless
> you change the options that were there to let it dual boot, etc.) It
> is a pretty awesome floppy that I constantly use, but I can't seem to
> find the place online I downloaded it from originally!  Maybe someone
> else has heard of it...
> Joseph

When network booting a really old PC that has not been retro-fitted
with a pxe/ether-booting network card, I have found the following
three paths to work best:

Floppy Drive - The etherboot universal image, attained via the web or
from my most convenient DRBL install, works most of the time.  For the
rare occasions that it does not, the rom-o-matic site will astonish
you in its complete offering of images for any network card made, it

Compact Disk - The Clonezilla Live CD, while not defaulting to
etherboot, provides etherboot as an option.  I use this, mostly.

Hard Drive - In addition to Terrell's good technique, and what sounds
like a good power-floppy option referenced by Joseph, I have found
that GRUB works great since you can load the appropriate image into
/boot and configure your menu appropriately.  I get the sense that
GRUB2 will make this even easier, but I'm still fiddling with its new
grub.d directory.  The final outcome remains that your default boot
can be the network or various hard drive installations if they are in
place as backups or alternatives.

When dealing with old hard drives and computers of the vintage with
which you are blessed, I have lost many a hair with, for instance, a
Western Digital hard drive that was not manually set to be master, and
taking its masterful place as the last disk on the cable.  I usually
just make them solo.

Once booting from the network, you have lots of options, including the
network boot of a Puppy or a DSL iso.

have fun


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