[Beowulf] BIOS

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Sun Aug 12 12:45:45 PDT 2007

On Sun, 12 Aug 2007, Carsten Aulbert wrote:

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

No, no, no.  You want to "ooffice" a little 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.

No, that's reasonable -- I just didn't understand.  Autoexec.bat is dumb
as a post in comparison even with /bin/sh, too.  So it sounds like
somebody else came up with a better recipe for booting a small partition
and using dosemu -- that might give you better scripting and error
recovery.  Nowadays there are a variety of small linux images readily
available on the web that you can burn to CD or wrap up as a netboot, I
think, that include dosemu.

> 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.

It has to do with Don's two or three tier system of spam defense.  There
is something like a whitelist, a greylist, and a blacklist, and
greylisted people are basically moderated.  I don't know the algorithm
he uses to move people from one to the other, but I'd guess a request
and clean record spamwise might help.


> [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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Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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