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Building Embedded Linux Systems by Karim Yaghmour

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Server Setup for Network Boot

As we saw in Chapter 2, setting up a target for network boot is ideal during the early stages of development, because you can gradually modify the kernel and the root filesystem without having to update the target's storage devices every time you make a modification. Though not all bootloaders can use this setup to boot, I recommend that you use such a setup whenever possible.

As I said earlier, the simplest way to boot your target from the network is to use BOOTP/DHCP, TFTP, and NFS. BOOTP/DHCP is the standard way to provide a network host with basic boot information, including the location of other servers such as TFTP and NFS. TFTP is the simplest network protocol for downloading remote files. In the case of an embedded Linux system, it is used by the target to obtain a kernel image from the TFTP server. Finally, NFS is the standard and simplest protocol for sharing entire directory trees between a client and a server. In the case of an embedded Linux system, it is used by the target to mount its root filesystem from the NFS server. NFS cannot be used for any earlier activity, because it requires a booted Linux kernel to operate. Together, these three protocols provide a very efficient host/target development setup.

To enable network booting of the target, you must set up the development host's network services so that the target can access the components it needs. In particular, you need to set up a host to respond to BOOTP/DHCP requests, ...

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