Setting up a file server for a diskless X-Terminal

Mikkel L. Ellertson mikkel at
Mon Sep 17 02:44:24 UTC 2007

Derek Tattersall wrote:
> I have a large desktop running F7 , the 64 bit version. I also have a
> few bits and pieces of 32 bit hardware lying around, that I could make
> into a diskless X-terminal. I have been reading up on tftp and pxeboot
> and the kernel docs, and I think I can figure out how to set up the
> client machine as a diskless X-terminal, but I am perplexed by one thing.
> What is the best way to set up the root file system? I want to set up a
> series of subdirectories on my main machine with the root file system,
> /bin, /lib, /etc, etc. I would like that to be 32 bit F7. I would then
> export those directories by NFS for the diskless client to use. Is there
> a way to unpack the F7 rpms into these subdirectories? I don't want to
> set up an entire partition for this, and go through the entire
> partitioning and install procedure. I just want to use a portion of the
> existing disk.
> Is there an easy way to do this? I have a vague memory that you could do
> this with slackware (this was back in the mid 90's - all my memories of
> that time are vague), is there a way to do this with Fedora?
> Thanks.
I can think of a couple of ways to do it. You are probably going to
want to set up a full 32 bit directory tree off some directory in /.
(I would uses something like 32_bit_tree.) You then have a couple of
options. Probably the simplest is to use the --root=<directory name>
option for all your 32 bit RPM operations. (The first things, after
creating the tree, is to run "rpm --root=<directory name> --initdb"
to create an empty database for RPM to work on. (It is a good idea
to back up your current RPM database first, in case you make a mistake!)

You also have the option of using chroot to change to your 32 bit
tree. I have never done thing on a 64 bit system, so I do not know
for sure that it will work. It should, as long as RPM does not get
confused and install the 64 bit RPMs. If you try this, let us know
how it works for future reference.

In ether case, one of the first things you will want to set up after
creating your directory tree is the 32 bit /etc, /bin, /lib, and
/sbin directories. You can not use chroot before you use the 64 bit
version of RPM to install enough of the system for rpm to run.

It has been a long time sense I have done this, and that was a
second 32 bit tree on a 32 bit system. So I am probably forgetting
something. I did find it is a lot easier to have a separate
partition for the 32 bit version, and do a bare-bones install to it.
But it can be done this way.


  Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for thou art crunchy and taste good with Ketchup!

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