Diskless & Thin Systems

Matt Zimmerman mdz at ubuntu.com
Tue Mar 21 22:24:32 GMT 2006

On Sun, Mar 19, 2006 at 10:39:38PM -0500, Jason Straight wrote:
> I've recently installed a new lab at our local library, and I have a few 
> suggestions that could make ubuntu more thinclient/diskless friendly out of 
> the box.
> 1. Compile in kernel ip autoconfig and dhcp
> 2. Compile support for booting from NFS

These are obsolete, replaced by userspace mechanisms.

> 3. Make dirs which hold temporary data tmpfs instead of hard mounts
>  - /tmp
>  - /var/run*
>  - /var/lock*
>  - /var/tmp
>  - /media
>  - /mnt
> To name a few. If not for these 3 points booting ubuntu over a network would 
> be as simple as copying a kernel, initrd, and pxelinux.0 (from syslinux) to a 
> tftp served dir, setting up dhcp and nfs and be done.
> *What I find odd is that it seems different systems I install ubuntu (dapper 
> included) seem to mount some /var dirs tmpfs (err varrun,varlock), while 
> other times not. What's the criteria that decides this during installation?

It shouldn't be hard to adapt the existing thin client infrastructure to
support "thick clients" / "diskless workstations".  Take a look at the ltsp
package as a starting point.

 - mdz

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