1. Introduction


The idea behind running a diskless workstations is to run a complete operating system with logins
and applications etc. without the need of purchasing another hard disk for  said workstation.
There are trade offs however. There is some disk space used on a server somewhere.
The files on the server are network mountable therefore the network gets extra load and
because the diskless workstation has no disk there can be no swap memory.
With these trade offs accounted for  there is still some scope to play with.

The possibilities are many.....
A small system for learning from or experimenting with.
A standalone system that operates only one function that does not warrant the purchase of a
disk. eg. masquerade firewall, X-terminal, print server, etc.

This talk will aim more toward the X-terminal feature but hopefully will cover any other
feature that you may require.  Of course the instructions that come with the software go into more depth than this discussion so refer to them if confused or if you wish to know more.


Bootp is the name given to the internet bootstrap protocol. The Idea is that a main server, with
all of the operating system and boot strap code, listens to the network for a request from a diskless workstation. The request being "Please boot me." (layman's terms :-)
If the main server is satisfied that the requesting machine is one that it is allowed to boot then it sends bootstrap code back over the network, using tftp, to the requesting machine.
Tftp stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol and is similar to the normal file transfer protocol but does not contain password
protection when a system asks for a file.
This lack of security is of concern on a server so the server can be set up to allow file transfers on only one directory tree.
The default directory at the time of writing was /tftpboot/.

1.3 NETBOOT (for Linux)

Netboot is the name of the code developed by Gero Kuhlmann for setting up the Linux system to remotely boot a diskless workstation.
There are three major steps in developing the system.
              1.  Create code for a floppy disk or EPROM that is placed into a diskless workstation.
                   This is the code that requests for bootstrap code from the main server over the network.
              2.  Create bootstrap code that can be sent over the network. This is the full kernel with all
                   the bells and whistles.
              3.  Create the file system on the main server that the diskless workstation can use
                   (Yes some disk space does get used but it is still a lot more economical than a
                     complete new disk).