by May 4, 2006 0 comments

This month we respond to the popular demand from of our
readers. We received lots of requests by mail and even personally to do a story
on deploying a remote boot cluster using something like OpenMosix. And we have
it for you this month-a remote boot cluster that’s been created using
OpenMosix and LTSP (Linux Terminal Services Project).

Applies to:
Set up a diskless cluster with OpenMosix and remote boot it using LTSP 
Google keywords:
openmosix + ltsp

At first glance, it may look like a very easy task
because installing LTSP with the LTSPadmin is like a breeze. All you have to do is
run some pre-configured shell scripts. In that case the setup and configuration
are done automatically. The LTSP server is capable of projecting a remote
bootable image of any installation over the network.  So if we install an
OpenMosix kernel using the LTSP server, boot with that kernel, and then run
diskless nodes with it, it should be able to boot with the same OpenMosix
kernel. But, this technique doesn’t work. Do you know why? Because when you
boot a thin client using LTSP, the thin client becomes an exact copy of the
server. Everything from its IP address to all settings and parameters for that
node are copied over. If you try installing OpenMosix on top of that, it will
find all the nodes with the same IP address and will treat them all as one and
they won’t be able to connect with each other. So, how do we do this? The
workaround to this problem is fairly intensive, but that’s what we delve into
this month.

For this kind of setup, the list of prerequisites is pretty long. First you’ll
need to have the nodes with an integrated PXE (Pre-eXecutable Environment) boot
ROM enabled network cards, because LTSP requires a TFTP server, which in turn
requires PXE-enabled network cards to work. If you don’t have these cards, you
will need floppy drives in all the nodes to make them boot up from the TFTP
server. Also you will need a regular production class workgroup server with a
Gigabit interface. This will be required since all nodes will boot from this
server over the network, and it will also have the cluster message passing over
it. In fact, we recommend that all nodes have a Gigabit NIC. Plus, you’ll also
need a NAS box.

You need a NAS box Previously whenever we talked about OpenMosix, all our client nodes had their
own hard drives. However, the charm of our present cluster setup is that, the
nodes don’t need any secondary memory to boot from. Everything is done from
the remote boot server’s hard drive. Due to this, you won’t be able to use
the capabilities of MFS (Mosix File System). Just to give you a refresher, MFS
is the feature of OpenMosix, which lets the cluster share all hard disks
virtually as a single storage. So no matter which node is initiating the task,
virtually any node can access it and execute that in its memory space. But since
no hard drives are involved in this setup, MFS is of no use. That’s why a
high-speed NAS is a must.

After you have completed the installation of OpenMosix, you can monitor the cluster from this console

The installation
In order to be able to do this installation, you must have sound knowledge of
both Linux and Linux Kernel, as well as Networking. Knowledge of LTSP and
OpenMosix is also needed, for which you can refer to the articles in this series
from our April and January 2006 issues. Also of course, don’t forget to fill
up your coffee mug to the brim and those refills coming, because this is going
to take quite some time doing this.

Installing LTSP
When installing LTSP, automated shell script called LTSP-admin is generally used
to do the installation. This makes the process easier. But in this case this
won’t work because the LTSPadmin installs the latest version of LTSP
automatically, which is what we don’t want. In our case, you will require an
older version of it because our modified OpenMosix and LTSP-OpenMosix plugin
will only work on this version of LTSP. So to install LTSP you have to go to the
LTSP’s website and from the download section, select LTSP 3.0. (Direct Link: From here download the core
and the ‘x core’ set of RPMs. Now install them with following commands.

#rpm —ivh ltsp_core-3.0.9-0.i386.rpm
#rpm —ivh ltsp_kernel-3.0.15-0.i386.rpm
#rpm —ivh ltsp_x_core-3.0.4-0.i386.rpm
#rpm —ivh ltsp_x_fonts-3.0.0-0.i386.rpm

Here, while installing, mind the sequence of the packages
or your installation might fail. In the link given above you will see many more
drivers and modules for LTSP. You can select, download and install the
additional packages to fit your needs.

After you are done with installing the RPMs, the next thing
is to configure the DHCP server for the LTSP server. Below we have given a
sample configuration file, which you can modify to meet your network’s

ddns-update-style     none;
default-lease-time     21600;
option subnet-mask;
option broadcast-address;
option routers;
option domain-name-servers;
option domain-name    “labsdomain.local”;
option root-path      

shared-network nodes{    subnet
netmask }

In the above configuration file, we have assumed that LTSP
is running on the network while the gateway for the network is The server on which LTSP is running is The second
thing that has to be done is modify your /etc/exports file and add the following

/opt/ltsp/i386    *

This will make the /opt/ltsp/i386 folder available on the
network an NFS share, and the share will be readable for
Now restart the NFS and the DHCP servers using the
following commands.

#service dhcpd restart
#service nfsd restat

To make sure that NFS is working, go to any node that has
Linux installed on it and make a new folder using:

#mkdir /tmp/test

Now mount the NFS share like this

mount /tmp/test

This command should run without any errors and after the
command succeeds, you should be able access the contents of the /opt/ltsp/i386
folder, which is present on the LTSP server machine on the /tmp/test folder.
With this we can assume that your LTSP server is up and running.

Installing OpenMosix
Now you have to download, build and install the kernel for
OpenMosix. For this, first download the source tarball for kernel 2.4.22 (you
can download it from We have to stick to this kernel because this
patched application doesn’t run with any other Linux kernel. After you have
downloaded the kernel source tarball, download the same version of OpenMosix’s
kernel patch, ie, openMosix-2.4.22-2.bz2 (http://prdownloads.
Do not download the RPM for these because you have to build the kernel with some
specific settings. For this first untar and unzip the Linux kernel tarball and
then untar and unzip OpenMosix. To do this, use the following commands.

#bunxip linux.2.4.22.tar.bz2
#tar —xvf linux.2.4.22.tar

#tar -jxvf openMosix-2.4.22-1.bz2

Now install the kernel with the following set of commands.

#make mrproper
#make oldconfig

#make bzImage

#make modules

#make modules_install

#make install

After having built the kernel, restart the LTSP server and
boot with the newly created kernel. At boot up, you will see a new
entry in grub/lilo, which tells you to boot from Kernel

After the reboot, go inside the OpenMosix folder and open
the configuration file. Here find the following line and change the
values accordingly. Comment out the statements that are
indicated below.

## openMosix
# CONFIG_openMosix_NO_OOM is not set
Now run the following commands to configure and install it.
#make install

After you are done with this, restart and you will see
another kernel instance, which say ‘kernel-2.4.22-openMosix’. Boot from this
kernel and your server is ready with OpenMosix. One more thing to be kept in
mind is to modify your /etc/inittab to lock processes on the server.

This way all critical processes will be locked to the
server. This is needed because with Mosix there is no failure protection. This
means that if a process is currently migrated to work station 1 and somebody
suddenly powers off that workstation, then the process is dead. When you want a
process to be able to migrate, launch it by prefixing it with mosrun —l. You
can do it by opening the /etc/inittab file and changing the line /etc/init.d/rc
5 to  /bin/mosrun -l /etc/init.d/rc 5

Installing OM-LTSP patch
This is the last step of our installation. Here you have to install the
special packages designed for LTSP and OpenMosix to run in harmony. For this
download the following packages: ‘’
and ‘’Here,
the first link leads you to a single tar.gz file. All you have to do is untar
and unzip it and then do a configure, make and make install to make it work. The
second link has a set of kernel patches.

You have to download the relevant one according to your
system architecture. For example, you will see files like
‘ltsp_openMosix-2_kernel_2.4.22_.tar.gz’.  You have
to select the appropriate one and again install it by untaring, unzipping and
then running the shell script.

After all this is done, reboot the server once. Then one by
one, boot all your cluster nodes with LAN as the first boot device. The node
should boot with OpenMosix kernel without any problems, and should start working
as a single cluster. 

You can get more details and FAQs on how to install
LTSP-OpenMosix from the official website daniau/

Anindya Roy

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