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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Puppy Projects
How to set up a Puppy Linux Cybercafe
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MagicZaurus

Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 08:04    Post_subject:  

I just read the whole thread at Smoothwall forum and I see that you also posted over there and got an answer that the TFTP in Smoothwall is limited to 91MB for initrd.gz.

In my opinion the only solution is to remove some packages from Puppy if you insist on using Smoothwall.
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MagicZaurus

Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 09:59    Post_subject:  

Hi ecomoney!

There is hope for your Smoothwall. I found out that Smoothwall actually has the dnsmasq package installed. They only use it for DNS, but if it is a complete package then dnsmasq also can do DHCP and TFTP. The TFTP server of dnsmasq doesn't have the 90MB limit.

Could you check if you have dnsmasq on the Smoothwall?

Code:
which dnsmasq

or
Code:
locate dnsmasq


If yes, then please check if there is a file /etc/dnsmasq.conf.

I don't have a spare PC to install Smoothwall and try it myself, so I can only give you my ideas.

Configuration will be then manual in the dnsmasq.conf and not from the web interface. I need to look up the important parameters. But better than nothing and once it is setup, I doubt anybody need to change it.
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MagicZaurus

Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 10:43    Post_subject:  

Ok. Here it is. If /etc/dnsmasq.conf exists then add the following at the end of the file. If it doesn't exist then create a new file with the content.

Code:
enable-tftp
tftp-root=/home/tftpboot


The tftp-root must specify the folder where your vmlinuz and initrd.gz are. If I remember correct it is /home/tftpboot in your case.

Remove the Smoothwall mod with the tftp package to avoid problems that both tftp servers are running at the same time. Then shutdown your Smoothwall, pray hard and long and then restart the Smoothwall and try.

Good luck! Hope to hear good news from you.
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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 2183
Location: Lincolnshire, England

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 11:47    Post_subject:  

MZ you are a Star! PUPPY LINUX RC3 JUST BOOTED!!!!!!!!!

Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

It took just 1 minute and 8 seconds to load the entire thing!!!

So the Smoothwall mod is actually totally unnecessary for this? and it actually imposes a restriction that would not be there if the native tftp server was being used? This has totally blown me away. This is actually far far simpler. I think I can (probably) even code up a smoothwall mod myself now to boot puppy. This is some discovery.....Im thinking of all the cybercafe's Ive seen out there struggling with viruses.

Im gonna post this and have a moment to take it all in.

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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4776
Location: Manila

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 12:05    Post_subject: congrats  

Congrats (again). Smile

So dnsmasq works well for net-booting Puppy, thanks to MZ.

And, Robert, the RC3 that you booted must be the humongous initrd.gz that you yourself built? The procedure that you indicated will be a good remastering extension.

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 6825
Location: Chatham, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 12:07    Post_subject:  

Woohoo

Well done Rob, MZ & others

Online beers all round Wink

Aitch Smile
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MagicZaurus

Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 12:35    Post_subject:  

Great!

That's a really good news to go to sleep with a peaceful mind. It's already past midnight here.

TFTP is slower compared to booting from CD or USB. The reason is that the protocol is very simple and a bit slow. But it works and is still faster than booting Vista from the HD.

You can make it faster by removing unnecessary applications from the initrd.gz.

Good luck for your demo!
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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 2183
Location: Lincolnshire, England

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 12:53    Post_subject:  

We need to ask John Murga to install this:-

[url=http://www.phpbbhacks.com/download/6314]PHPBB Virtual Beer Mod[url]

Ive had time to compose myself a little now. I really dont know how to thank you MagicZaurus. If I was a man of any means whatsoever I would be writing you a big fat cheque right now.

Hopefully one day I will be...Im planning on offering a custom smoothwall box as a slot in appliance from my companies website, but weve still go a long way to go with the puppy customization before then. Im sure in these bleak economic times it will be very popular cheap hassle-free plug in replacement for all those expensive and problematic Windows cybercafe's out there.

@Raffy - Yes it was the repackaged 4.2 RC3 that I made earlier that I booted, so that long list of commands is the definitive way of creating a netbootable puppy. It would be nice to have a script to automate this process i.e.

Code:
makenetboot ./initrd.gz ./pup_420.sfs


This would mean me finding out about command line variables in bash scripting, and my poor brain needs a break for a bit. I may ask PizzasGood as he did a few good scripts to edit initrd.gz's and pup_xxx.2fs's a while back that I included in Ecopup. I can see Im going to have to do quite a lot of customizations of the pup_420.sfs and will need some kind of automated way of packaging them up before I send them over to to the 2 smoothwalls at the two cybercafe sites.

Anyway, It seems that on the next visit I make to the cybercafe, I will be able just stroll in with a ten year old server under my arm, plug in a few cables, make a few bios settings and delouse the entire place Cool Laughing

There is only one last job for me to do...break the news to Pascal hes made a smoothwall mod for something smoothwall does already out of the box Rolling Eyes

Many thanks to everyone for pushing the barriers and getting the project this far. I am forever in your debt.

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MagicZaurus

Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 13:16    Post_subject:  

Sorry ecomoney, I already posted in the Smoothwall forum just now. Hope that's not a problem.

I agree that there is still a lot of things to be done to get this a nice and smooth product. But your are on the right track.

Making a script to automate the creation of the initrd.gz shouldn't be a big problem.

Keep us updated how it goes with your demo at the cybercafes.

Ciao
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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 2183
Location: Lincolnshire, England

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 13:41    Post_subject:  

Ive just read it, very diplomatically put MZ, Im sure I could not have done a better job...especially after the two days of banging my head against the wall. As you discovered the fix the duty should rightfully be all yours.
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MagicZaurus

Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 13:56    Post_subject:  

I saw that you are concerned about boot speed. My suggestion would be that you try it first with just the normal 100Mbps network card and router. I would presume that changing to 1Gbps doesn't help much. From what I read the TFTP protocol itself is a kind of bottleneck. A SSD might also not help much in terms of speed, but will help in terms of reliability and power consumption.
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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 2183
Location: Lincolnshire, England

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 18:17    Post_subject:  

1 Minute and 8 seconds I think would be perfectly fine for them, my only concern would be that when they are booting the computers up in the morning would mean that they all would be pulling the initrd.gz file over the network at the same time. This takes about 28 seconds over a 100mb network @ 2mb per second, this is what I have timed it at with the stopwatch on my mobile phone.

I think at the Immingham site (which is open 9am-5pm) there are about thirty computers, I dont know if the rather primitive (so I have heard) tftp protocol would allow serving the initrd.gz file out to several clients simultaneously or not. If not 30 computers multiplied by 28 seconds. If it cant boot them simultaneously then that means that its going to take 840 seconds, or 14 minutes, to bring them all to life, which they could live with but wouldnt be great (Ive known many XP computers take longer than this to boot). If it cant boot them simultaneously then its going to mean 7 minutes of every day of someone going around pressing the power button every 30 seconds...I think.

I need to work out if it will boot them simultaneously or not, which would involve me raking out some sort of hub and filling the workshop with three or four zombie carcasses of old computers.

If the smoothwall had a gigabit connection between itself and the hub, AND the tftp server could send the initrd.gz file to all thirty computers at once, then the major bottleneck between the hub and the smoothwall would be eliminated. Ten computers could be booted every thirty seconds. It would take three seconds for the attendant in the morning to walk from one computer to another switching it on in any case.

I think I got those sums right, but my brain is still somewhat battered and bruised.

Anyhow, another matter Ive just noticed. Ive looked in the Hardinfo on the newly netbooted machine, and found out of the total of 385516kb of RAM that is on the machine, there is only only 135252kb of memory available. This means two thirds of the memory is taken up. I believe most of the computers at the cybercafe will be about 512mb of RAM so this is not too much of a problem, but it would be nice to have the extra 100/128ish mb extra to play with.

I have a theory that the netboot protocol on the client machines reserves an amount to copy the the initrd.gz file into. Raffy suggested that 102000kb be used for this, it is defined in the /home/pxelinux.cfg/default file

Code:

DEFAULT Puppy
PROMPT 0
NOESCAPE 0
ALLOWOPTIONS 0
TIMEOUT 100

MENU TITLE Puppy Network Booting!

# Puppy Linux Loader
LABEL Puppy
MENU Puppy Net-Booting
KERNEL vmlinuz
APPEND initrd=initrd.gz ramdisk_size=[b]102013040[/b]

EOF


notice the repeated mistake with the bold tags. Rolling Eyes

When the client computer boots, the first thirty seconds are spent rolling dots ("."'s)across the screen while the initrd.gz is transfered across the network to it, then the "normal" done done done bootscreen appears as puppy boots. The usual lengthy one where it says

Code:
Loading the pup_420.sfs file


only takes a split second. From what I know of the puppy boot process, normally the pup_420.sfs file (containing all of puppy's programs) would be loaded off the CD or Hard disk media into the computers memory on higher memory machines into RAM to give puppy its speed.

When netbooting, it seems that the pup_420.sfs file is still behaving the same way, ie being transfered from the "disk", ie the netboot ramdisk, into another ramdisk (hence it only takes a second), with the effect that essentially double the memory is being take up, the first chunk for the initrd.gz with the pup_420.sfs file inside, and the second being just pup_420.sfs. On a 384MB ram machine, this leaves just 128mb to play with, rather than 256MB (approximate figures).

I also understand, using boot parameters, it is possible to read the pup_420.sfs file directly from the disk, as would occur in an older machine without enough ram to preload the pup_420.sfs file, i.e. below 128mb of ram.

If netbooted puppy worked in this way, even on machines with a lot of ram, puppy programs would still be loaded into ram from the first chunk (the netboot ramdisk), rather than the second one as is occurring now. This would still mean that the netbooted puppy would open programs just as quickly because both copies are in RAM.

What are the boot parameters to force non-loading of the pup_420.sfs file into a new ramdisk? and where would I put them?

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nic2109

Joined: 01 Jan 2007
Posts: 406
Location: Hayslope, near Middlemarch, Midlands, England

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 19:28    Post_subject:
Sub_title: Open Office
 

@ecomoney; given your experience so far it has probably reinforced your determination to NOT include Open Office in the initial boot.

However; there is a products called Rootz that allows you to run it from where it is on the server (up in the Cloud perhaps!) by creating it as a kind of remote mount and running from there. See this forum thread from quite a while ago http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=26218

It may be possible to add a menu entry to your build that launches a Rootz share on an Open Office installation on your server.

Good luck.

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raffy

Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4776
Location: Manila

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 19:58    Post_subject: RAMdisk  

ecomoney wrote:
I have a theory that the netboot protocol on the client machines reserves an amount [of RAM] to copy the the initrd.gz file into. Raffy suggested that 102000kb be used for this...

The ramdisk_size parameter could be unique to Philip Jounin's TFTP (in Windows). MZ does not mention it for dnsmasq. Here is a Debian guide mentioning dnsmasq config options: http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/478

Another consideration would be Puppy's initrd. Barry must have coded ramdisk_size in it, and we might be required to supply the numbers.

Barry was clear as to the unit of ramdisk_size, which is KB, so the number you have above should be pruned by 3 digits. (Dividing your given amount by 1024 should give you the precise ramdisk_size.)

ecomoney wrote:
What are the boot parameters to force non-loading of the pup_420.sfs file into [Puppy's tmpfs]? and where would I put them?

"pfix=noram" is the usual parameter, and it must be placed along the APPEND line.

EDIT: "pmedia=idehd" should force Puppy to search the hard disk for sfs, but am not sure if that would work with PXE booting. Plus, if you put that in /pxelinux.cfg/default, then all client PCs should have hard disks and pup_420.sfs in them. One advantage of this is that you can use OpenOffice as a local file.

Unfortunately, when you do these last considerations, the question changes to "Why use PXE at all?"

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ecomoney


Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 2183
Location: Lincolnshire, England

PostPosted: Wed 18 Mar 2009, 20:27    Post_subject:  

nic, thank you for bringing that to my attention, your right openoffice would be a pain to have to load into ram each time, the smallest version I can find is an extra 50mb (version 1.1), and the latest version (3.1) is about 384mb. This would nearly quadruple the amount of RAM required and the boot time of the computers....but what to do with .ppt and .docx files? Quite often these are sent as attachments via email. If an reliable openoffice install were created for 4.2 (something that is sorely needed) then mounting it over a network share would be an excellent way of getting at the extra functionality without having to increase boot times or memory requirements.

Im thinking...as well as openoffice, what about JAVA? Many websites require it to get their advanced functions to work...for example Facebook and Ebay. This may be another "nice to have" that could be called from the server when required. Maybe even Wine? They have a problem with people installing their own programs on the cybercafe computers now...but why not let them if that is what they want to do? One one minute reboot and its back to a clean install anyhow.

I will chalk that up as a "nice to have" for the time being, it would be better to have something stable and tested (like Im sure 4.2 is going to be), see how much of a demand there is, and create this function if necessary. Good to know about this package though, thanks again for pointing it out.

Ive had a quick look at pebble, and I think...in theory, this could be got to work also with netbooting. One step at a time tho.

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