SD-less netbooting / PXE

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SD-less netbooting / PXE

Unread postby movax » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:41 am


I am really interested in being able to use DHCP/BOOTP/TFTP/iPXE enabled booting, with no other storage devices attached to a board. IPv6 in bootloader would be very welcome, but I can consider this optional in the first implementation.

Similar to what Raspberry Pi 3 can do now: ...

My use case is to buy 70+ ODROID-N1 boards for a cluster, with or without additional SATA drives, mostly for distributed algorithms testing (Erlang, Go), replicated storage (Ceph, Lustre), coherent distributed data caching (custom solution), cluster management (Kubernetes), scalable monitoring (Prometheues), cryptocurrency research (blockchain replication, sharding and load balancing). I already do have 32 old Dell PCs, and upgrading to something smaller, and more of it, would be beneficial for me (less space, less power, quieter, more nodes - means testing more extreme availability, even if every node is weaker). Amount of RAM, available 2 SATA ports over PCIe, and gigabit ethernet, and reasonable CPU performance, together with reasonable price (I might consider buying Lite version [no SATA ports and chip] too, for a separate Compute/Cache only cluster) are really making me consider this as a next contender :) (I dropped Raspberry Pi 3, because USB and Ethernet performance are both poor, and amount of RAM is very limiting, also I do not need/want WiFi).

Not using SD cards would make this easier for multiple reasons: Cheaper, less likely for storage device to fail, easier cluster upgrades, etc.

And even if I decide to use SD card, netbooting would allow me to install software on all SD cards quicker and automatically. I use FAI for cluster management / reinstallation right now.


PS. I do own 2 ODROID-C2, 1 ODROID-C1, 2 ODROID-XU4, and few other fruit boards (probably 20 in total, including various Raspberrys, Bananas, Oranges, CHIP and PINE/ROCK boards).
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Re: SD-less netbooting / PXE

Unread postby mad_ady » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:38 pm

There is a discussion about adding a 16M spi flash on the N1. The development boards don't have it, but some people (myself included) added it through gpio.
Tests by hardkernel showed it can boot uboot and kernel from spi and you can have the kernel either load rootfs from nfs/sata, or use kexec and load a different kernel elsewhere.
However, community tests were unable to reproduce this behavior. There was corruption when writing the flash and I had to write at 2k at a time with pauses in between, but even then the spi uboot would fail to boot.

Hopefully Hardkernel will decide to make the n1 (or a variant of it) and these problems will be solved. I agree spi boot offers great flexibility.
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