[Beowulf] BIOS

Carsten Aulbert carsten.aulbert at aei.mpg.de
Sat Aug 11 23:07:51 PDT 2007

Hi Robert, hi all

Robert G. Brown wrote:
> On Thu, 9 Aug 2007, Henning Fehrmann wrote:

>> Has somebody experiences with this?
> Sure.  You can PXE-boot DOS (which doesn't need to fit on a floppy sized
> image, actually).  Last time I looked, there were some bootable DOS
> images freely available on the net -- google turns up e.g.
>   http://www.bootdisk.com/bootdisk.htm
> pretty readily.  So create a PXE bootable remote-mountable partition and
> pop the BIOS flash program on that, and write a suitable autoexec.bat.
> Terminate the image in the batch file with the mandatory reboot, and set
> up suitable DHCP toggles so that you start the flash by hand, then it
> defaults to a kickstart install, then it defaults to a local disk boot,
> in that order.

Thanks for the link. In principle we have everything working already
that way, but want to "excel" a bit more:

(1) Right now we use memdisk from the syslinux/isolinux family to boot
the dos image. Booting an exact floppy image works fine, but for some
part in (2) we might need more space than a 2,88 MB floppy or its
extended pendant gives to us. Thus we are currently trying to boot a hd
image which sems to be a bit trickier than a simple floppy image
(getting boot code, partition table right for example).

(2) We want to have some feedback from the process and don't want to
have an automatic reboot after a possible failure because in the worst
case this might "brickify" a node. Once I had the problem, that
automatic BIOS flashing worked, but one node - which looked similar but
behaved differently - was not able to finish the flashing procedure
successfully. Since I was monitoring the node I was able to redo the
flashing with a different option [1].

Anyway, that's the reason why we want to include a dhcp client and some
means, possibly a ssh or rsh client along with the needed packetdriver
to the image and notify the server that way, that it successfully
flashed the BIOS and set our custom settings correctly. Only after that
the nodes should continue FAIing.

But maybe we are just too cautious.



PS: Anyone an idea, why my emails end up for moderators approval every
time? I have just checked the settings, but I'm subscribed (with this
from address) and everything looks fine for me.

[1] I still don't know what wsa special to this node. All other nodes
were happy to get the BIOS flashed, but this particular one needed a
special switch from the AMI(?) flash tool. I don't really remember what
was wrong since this was at the end of the past millennium ;)
>> In the worst case, the DOS environment is working autonomously and the
>> install server is 'guessing'
>> whether the BIOS is flashed or not on the clients,
>> e.g., by analyzing the DHCP logs, but this is not what we really want.
> I'm hoping that the process described above IS what you want.
>    rgb
>> Regards
>> Henning Fehrmann
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