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Rock Your Linux

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VirtualBox Guest Additions on Real Machine – PXE Boot

VirtualBox guest additions installs a video driver called vboxvideo. It allows for the machine to adjust its resolution to the dimensions of the application windows. It also allows for seamless mouse movement between the host machine and the virtual window. I manage a server that runs VirtualBox to host several machines. The host is located in an air conditioned server room separated from the main office by some distance. In the office I have a windows machine that typically boots to a Windows XP desktop. VirtualBox is installed with a guest configured to pxe boot from the server host.

I would like to boot an interface, using pxe, with guest additions functional. Apparently guest additions does not play nicely with the various VirtualBox kernel modules required for actual machines. I have enabled the vboxvideo module in lts.conf (/var/lib/tftpboot/ltsp/i386/lts.conf) and it does configure xorg.conf of the pxe client properly, but it does not seem to work. Maybe its because the host server uses the nvidia driver? The main /etc/X11/xorg.conf is configured with nvidia; I have tried it with vboxvideo, but that did not make sense to me so I quickly reverted the change.

How else would ltsp clients be configured; other than lts.conf?

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PXE Network Boot VirtualBox

You need host networking enabled to boot via the network. Check here for prerequisite configuration.

VirtualBox is capable of network boot, and is practically indistinguishable in configuration as compared to a real machine. To PXE boot a VirtualBox guest OS open the settings of a guest OS:

VirtualBox Settings

Click the system tab:

System tab

To enable PXE boot you have to configure the following section:

Boot section.

Then use the up and down arrows to set the priority of the network boot feature, as shown above.

Up and Down Arrows

You can create a guest OS that has no hard drive; there is no need for one. In such a configuration make network boot the first on the list. :)

Since you intend to use PXE boot, you may consider setting up a LTSP server.

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PXE Boot – Thin Client LTSP Config

The main component of LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) is the dhcp configuration. To start install the required packages:

sudo apt-get install ltsp-utils ltsp-server ltsp-server-standalone

Then open /etc/ltsp/dhcpd.conf, which is a template of your possible dhcp3 configuration. To makes things simple just use everything in this file as the configuration for dhcp, otherwise if you are comfortable configuring the option feel free; they can be configured many ways! The main dhcpd configuration file is located in /etc/dhcp3/dhcpd.conf. Do not forget to turn off the dhcp server in your router!!!!!! This will cause conflict. Also include next-server “serverip” in the dhcpd configuration. This is required to point secondary ip traffic, during PXE boot, to the ltsp server. Now just build your client environment and your ready to PXE boot:

ltsp-build-client

There are additional lstp configurations that can be done with ltspadmin. You can use ltspadmin to set a gdm login screen for your thin clients; I prefer to not use the gdm. You can use ltspadmin with:

sudo ltspadmin

The rest is terminal graphics. You can monitor the status of your various ltsp components, and set additional sometimes necessary configurations.

Now you might get stuck at various places. One place is the tftp during the pxe boot process. This may be the setting the export correctly in /etc/exports. Add if its not there:

/opt/ltsp *(ro,no_root_squash,async,no_subtree_check)

Then maybe you need to configure the next server option. DHCP is configure in /etc/ltsp/, and not directly in the dhcp /etc directory. Add or uncomment accordingly:

next-server ip.address.of.server;

The whole kit and kaboodle is described in greater detail on the debian wiki.

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SystemRescueCd – Great Recovery Tools and PXE Boot

If you loose partition or filesystem integrity and need to re-partition or re-format the SystemRescueCd is for you. Comparable to the popular Ultimate Boot CD, and the Super GRUB Disk this cd is excellent for your toolkit. The most recent update sports PXE boot so you can test the ethernet card of thin clients for a bad PXE rom. Overall the combination of the tools incorporated on these three cd makes almost any computer problem solvable. http://www.sysresccd.org/Main_Page