Network booting

Those who keep track, will know that I started writing support for NBD in debian-installer last weekend. But that's not what this post is about.

I've been setting up a laptop for my brother. He talked about "something about as fast as our parents' computer", which is a 600Mhz PIII. After looking a while on ebay, I found a Dell Latitude L400, a 12" 700Mhz PIII-based laptop, for a fairly low price, which seems to fit that description, so I placed a bid. Only to figure out later that I should've read the description a slight bit more, because this was an incomplete machine: no RAM, no power adapter, no battery, no hard disk, which was being sold "for parts". Darn.

Got me some fitting RAM and a power adapter on replacedirect (which is a shop I can really recommend, BTW -- new batteries for almost all conceivable laptop models, including those that have been out of production for years), put the RAM in, connected the power adapter, and crossed my fingers. Luckily the machine appears to work; it's not that they took it apart because it had broken down, or some such.

I also still have a 2" hard disk to put in the machine, but apparently Dell has this conversion thing that I need to put between the disk and the rest of the machine, and that's missing; I guess I'll have to be a bit creative there. So, for the time being, I configured the machine to enable PXE booting, and set something up on the network to boot from. Since the installer support to install to the network is not (yet ;-) finished, I needed to do some stuff manually, however.

After making sure I could boot the machine (long live debootstrap), I set out to install additional packages. After downloading and installing a number of packages, however, the machine suddenly died. Unfortunately rebooting didn't fix anything; the machine would die somewhat halfway through the boot. Since it was quite, eh, "early" in the morning by then, I left it at that and went to bed.

Today, I easily figured out what the problem was: network-manager expects to take the network down, and then to run some scripts... which obviously breaks just about everything.

I guess that if I want to make partman-nbd work, I'll have to do some work there, too...