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Managing NFS and NIS, 2nd Edition by Hal Stern, Ricardo Labiaga, Mike Eisler

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Chapter 8. Diskless Clients

This chapter is devoted to diskless clients running Solaris. Diskless Solaris clients need not be served by Solaris machines, since many vendors have adopted Sun's diskless boot protocols. The current Solaris diskless client support relies entirely on NFS for root and swap filesystem service and uses NIS maps for host configuration information. Diskless clients are probably the most troublesome part of NFS. It is a nontrivial matter to get a machine with no local resources to come up as a fully functioning member of the network, and the interactions between NIS servers, boot servers, and diskless clients create many ways for the boot procedure to fail.

There are many motivations for using diskless clients:

  • They are quieter than machines with disks.

  • They are easier to administer, since there is no local copy of the operating system that requires updates.

  • When using fast network media, like 100Mb ethernet, diskless clients can perform faster if the server is storing the client's data in a disk array. The reason is that client workstations typically have one or two disk spindles, whereas if the client data can be striped across many, usually faster spindles, on the server, the server can provide better response.

In Solaris 8, support for the unbundled tools (AdminSuite) necessary to configure a server for diskless client support was dropped. As the Solaris 8 release notes stated:

Solstice AdminSuite 2.3 software is no longer supported with the Solaris 8 ...

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