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Do you have a use for NetBoot? [WIP]


Hi all,

Ever have a need for specialized machines running one program and one program only, but want to update these machines all at once, from a central point? Introducing NetBoot.

The idea of NetBoot is to eliminate the need for manually updating many computers running the same software for whatever purpose. When the computer boots, NetBoot is launched. NetBoot contacts the server, and checks for a version number of the program the machine is supposed to run. If that number is different than the version number of the program the computer has saved, the computer will download a copy of the new program for future use. The configuration stored on each machine specifies an "applet" (program) to use, which can be configured such that all of your NetBoot applets are stored on the same server and every client contacts that server after waiting in the queue (mentioned below).

The idea of checking the version number and downloading a copy is to not overwhelm the server every time clients power on, or wasting time and downloading a copy of the program every power cycle. The result of this caching is only downloading the entire program when there is an update. The program is compressed, associated files wrapped with it in a TAR file, and made available for client downloading. Should there be a large number of clients, a load balancing server will be contacted first, acting as a queue server for the network files. This all uses an implementation of ServerFS, which I have linked below. While not blazingly fast, it is easier than manually updating every one of your client computers. I am looking into faster solutions (Minitel seemed like a step in the right direction??) for networking, so if anyone can help please let me know. I am also curious about the Network Stack floppy available in the mod, I haven't a clue what it does and can't find any documentation about it.

Would you benefit from NetBoot? Once finished, it might be something I'm interested in releasing.


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