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3. Diskless with "Live Linux CDROM"

The "Live Linux CDROM" is a CDROM which has the entire Linux Operating System filesystem on the CDROM. It is made by copying the live Linux system on to CDROM. The "Live Linux CDROM" directly boots the Linux operating system from the CDROM drive. But you need to setup the BIOS to first boot from CDROM. Generally the boot order is : Floppy Drive, Hard disk, CDROM. You can enter BIOS setup, by powering on the computer and presssing the DEL key.

Get the "Live Linux CDROM" from

Diskless workstation with "Live Linux CDROM" is becoming a reality because of the following reasons:

  1. RAM prices are all time low and 512MB RAM costs only US$70.
  2. CDROM drives are becoming extremely fast and current read speed is topping at 72X.
  3. CDROM IDE drives are very cheap, CDROM with 52X read speed is costing only US$33.
  4. DVD-ROM is also getting very cheap and can carry 5 Gigabyte of Linux software and is three times faster than CDROM drive.

A big advantage of Live Linux CDROM over other methods of diskless operations like EEPROM is that it is very easy to setup and you can very easily upgrade the Linux CDROM with new versions of the Linux kernel every three months. Simply throw away the old Live Linux CDROM and pop-in the new version Live Linux CDROM. Upgrade is just 20 seconds and the cost of Linux CDROM is 30 cents (less than a US dollar!). In near future, Live Linux CDROM + DVD-ROM will rule the computer desktops.

FIVE SECONDS UPGRADE: Live Linux CDROM promotes RAPID Operating Sytem UPGRADE. You can upgrade an OS in less than 5 seconds!! Live Linux CDROM introduces the concept of mass upgrade and RAPID ACTION. Simply throw away the old Live Linux CDROM and pop in new CDROM and you are done upgrading!

With Live Linux CDROM, you do not need a hard-disk, floppy drives and others. All you need to build a diskless workstation is :

  1. Live Linux CDROM
  2. CPU
  3. Mother board
  4. NIC (Network Interface Card)
  5. CDROM drive (IDE or SCSI)
  6. RAM (32 MB minimum for full graphics and 16 MB minimum for console mode)

For best prices on RAM and CDROM IDE drives check auctions in online stores like Egghead or local stores in your city like UBM, Houston.

After you boot "Live Linux CDROM", you can mount the hard disk partitions from remote Linux servers. And you can use VNC to access MS Windows 2000 and Linux servers. Or you can use WinConnect to access MS Windows applications like MS Office, Outlook etc. But WinConnect needs MS Windows XP/2000/NT server.

To evaluate the CDROM/DVD drives use the following software from This site also gives the speed comparison of drives from different vendors. The top speed CDROM drive is from Kenwood at at 72x speed.

3.1 Build a Live Linux CDROM

You can build your own Live Linux CDROM and customize the kernel, hardware support, loadable module support etc.

This section was originally written by Hans de Goede for the Diskless-root-NFS-HOWTO. I modified it slightly in order to reflect some differences between this document and the Diskless-root-NFS-HOWTO.

Much of the above also goes for booting from cdrom. Why would one want to boot a machine from cdrom? Booting from cdrom is interesting everywhere one wants to run a very specific application, like a kiosk, a library database program or an internet cafe, and one doesn't have a network or a server to use a root over nfs setup.

Creating a test setup

Now that we know what we want to do and how, it's time to create a test setup:

Creating the CD

If you need more information than you can find below, please refer to the CD-Writing-HOWTO.

Creating a boot image

First of all, boot into the working partition. To create a bootable cd we'll need an image of a bootable floppy. Just dd-ing a zImage doesn't work since the loader at the beginning of the zimage doesn't seem to like the fake floppydrive a bootable cd creates. So we'll use syslinux instead.

Creating the iso image

Now that we have the boot image and an install that can boot from a readonly mount it's time to create an iso image of the cd:

Verifying the iso image

Writing the actual CD

Assuming that you've got cdrecord installed and configured for your cd-writer type:

             # cdrecord -v speed=<desired writing speed> dev=<path to your writers generic scsi device> boot.iso

Boot the cd and test it

Well the title of this paragraph says it all;)

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