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22.05.2008 13:03

Installing Debian via PXE

Today I found my old Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook B in the cellar and wanted to play a bit with it. It's very small and handy (might be useful for certain tasks) and due to the recent hype on eeePCs, I need something small too ;) The specs for this notebook aren't very cool, but the display is a bit larger than the eeePCs display and it has a touchscreen which is also very handy when properly configured.
The main problem with installing operating systems onto this device is that there's neither a CD-Rom drive nor a floppy drive available and due to the age of this system, it's not possible to boot from USB drives, so I chose to install Debian via PXE on this device.

There are plenty of howtos on the web about configuring a PXE/Bootp/DHCP combination to make this work but I always need to write such things down on my own for easier reference in the future, so here's the way to go:

  1. Install a DHCP Server

    I chose "dhcp3-server" from Debian, so
    apt-get install dhcp3-server
    will do the trick. After installation, you need to configure it to allow booting from it. Besides the usual dhcp server configuration, you need to add the following configuration options:
      allow booting;
      allow bootp;
      class "pxeclients" {
        match if substring(option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 9) = "PXEClient";
        filename "/pxelinux.0";
    (Assuming that is the IP address of the host the TFTP server will reside and that pxelinux.0 is the pxe bootfile name of choice).

  2. Install the TFTP Server

    I chose "tftpd-hpa" because it seems to have special features wrt PXE configurations, so
    apt-get install tftpd-hpa
    will install the software for you. Change "RUN_DAEMON" in /etc/default/tftpd-hpa from "No" to "Yes" and start this service using `/etc/init.d/tftpd-hpa start`.

  3. Download the netboot files

    Download the latest netboot.tar.gz from http://ftp.nl.debian.org/debian/dists/etch/main/installer-i386/current/images/netboot/ into your tftpboot directory (for tftpd-hpa, it's usually set to /var/lib/tftpboot):
    cd /var/lib/tftpboot
    wget http://ftp.nl.debian.org/debian/dists/etch/main/installer-i386/current/images/netboot/netboot.tar.gz
    tar xf netboot.tar.gz

Make sure all the necessary services are started (dhcpd and tftpd) and try to bot your target system via PXE boot.

I hope I don't have forgotten some vital parts for this configuration and if so, feel free to leave a comment here.

15.05.2008 14:09

Ever tried to VNC into a MacOS X box?

I had to do this today and found out that even in VNC terms, MacOS is different. Usually, running `vncviewer $IP` works as expected, but on my linux box I only got a short flicker and was thrown back to the command line:
tuxx@vi-edv003:~$ vncviewer $IP
VNC viewer version 3.3.7 - built Dec 30 2006 12:48:54
Copyright (C) 2002-2003 RealVNC Ltd.
Copyright (C) 1994-2000 AT&T Laboratories Cambridge.
See http://www.realvnc.com for information on VNC.
VNC server supports protocol version 3.889 (viewer 3.3)
VNC authentication succeeded
Desktop name "UserÔs Macintosh"
Connected to VNC server, using protocol version 3.3
VNC server default format:
  32 bits per pixel.
  Least significant byte first in each pixel.
  True colour: max red 255 green 255 blue 255, shift red 16 green 8 blue 0
Warning: Cannot convert string "-*-helvetica-bold-r-*-*-16-*-*-*-*-*-*-*" to type FontStruct
Using default colormap and visual, TrueColor, depth 24.
Got 256 exact BGR233 colours out of 256
Using BGR233 pixel format:
  8 bits per pixel.
  True colour: max red 7 green 7 blue 3, shift red 0 green 3 blue 6
Using shared memory PutImage
ReadFromRFBServer: rdr::EndOfStream
ShmCleanup called

OK, I thought, let's try the Windows RealVNC client, but the situation didn't change. I then tried to play around with the VNC options and found out that the only way to connect to your MacOSX VNC Server (Screen Sharing service) is using the following command line arguments to `vncviewer`:
vncviewer -encodings "copyrect hextile" $IP

The Windows VNC Viewer would only connect after setting the "Preferred encoding" to "Hextile" and the Colour level to "Full (all available colours)".
I guess you can imagine what having all available colours transferred through a VNC connection means in terms of speed and latency...

Ideas, anyone? (BTW: This does not only happen on my hackintosh, but on a real Apple PowerBook too).

14.05.2008 13:12

Updates for VMwareTools-3.5.0-82663 to compile on Linux kernel

Updates for VMwareTools-3.5.0-82663.tar.gz (VMware ESX Server 3.5.0 Update 1) are available at the usual location.

Have fun!


06.05.2008 19:49

New Matrox Parhelia (MTX) driver release for Linux kernel 2.6.25+

Unofficial Matrox Parhelia drivers This is the first unofficial mtx driver release based upon the new official 1.4.6 core. It contains only compatibility changes to compile on 2.6.25+ and some small changes to remove compile warnings (see ChangeLog below).

Please consider donating if you use this driver

  * Re-applied all previous modifications (they dropped them all again)
  * Added support for Linux kernel 2.6.25
  * Fixed a compiler warning in mtx_irq.c