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This is the procedure when you use a GNU/Linux server to netboot Linux on a SPARCstation:

  • You say boot net at the Open Boot PROM prompt or set the boot-device flag to net and power on the system
  • A RARP request is sent to the network. This is reapeated until a RARP reply is recieved. On the sever, rarpd will read the Ethernet to IP address mapping from /etc/ethers and send a reply to the Sparcstation.
  • The client, now knowing it's IP address, sends a TFTP request to the machine that served its RARP request. The client asks for a filename encoded as <IP address in hex>.<architecture>, so a Sparcstation Classic at 10.10.0.250 will ask for 0A0A00FA.SUN4M. Our TFTP server will send this file that should contain something bootable (in this case a Linux kernel) to the client. If the client doesn't get an answer, it falls back to requesting the same file from IP address 0.0.0.0.
  • A spinning thingy is displayed while the client fetches the file.
  • The Sparcstation's PROM jumps to the downloaded file letting Linux boot.
  • Linux sends a BOOTP or DHCP request to get an IP address. This new address may or may not be the same one as used to boot the system. Our bootpd answers after reading /etc/bootptab.
  • Linux mounts its root filesystem over NFS.
  • init is called and the system boots as usual.


Would you like to go back to Netbooting a SPARCstation with Linux now?