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Troubleshooting NetBoot/Netinstall/NetRestore

posted Dec 22, 2008, 7:26 AM by Philip Rinehart   [ updated Dec 22, 2008, 7:26 AM by Greg Neagle ]
Written by Mike Bombich   
Monday, 11 July 2005
Troubleshooting Netboot/Netinstall/NetRestore tips from the author of NetRestore, Carbon Copy Cloner and other great tools. (See the full troubleshooting article here:http://www.bombich.com/mactips/netboot.html

So, some things to check when your NetBoot/NetInstall/NetRestore effort fails... If you don't get the Apple logo, it means you're not getting the "booter" file via tftp.

This packet trace can be really useful (at the Netboot server): 
sudo tcpdump -i en0 -s 0 -X -vv -n port bootps or port bootpc or port tftp

or if you're planning to send it to someone else: 
sudo tcpdump -i en0 -s 0 -w ~/Desktop/packets.trace port bootps or port bootpc or port tftp

Check out this article in regards to tftp issues on an upgraded Tiger Netboot server: 
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=301494 

You can usually tell exactly where things are failing based on how far the client gets in the boot process:

Step 1: Blinking globe on square icon

  • DHCP DISCOVER, etc.
  • BSDP DISCOVER, etc.
  • Download the "booter" file (indicated in the BSDP response) via tftp to initiate boot

Step 2: Apple logo, spinning globe
  • I have an IP address, and I've negotiated my Netboot settings with the Netboot server
  • The booter file is booting me, and initiating the download of the other two boot files (the kernel, aka mach.macosx and the kext cache, aka mach.macosx.mkext) via tftp
Step 3: Spinning globe turns into indeterminate progress indicator
  • I've downloaded all three files and the booter has loaded the kernel
  • If you were holding down Command+V during start up, you'd get the verbose boot at this point
  • Load kernel extensions from the kext cache
  • Mount the boot volume via NFS
Step 4: Screen turns blue
  • WindowServer has loaded, /etc/rc.cdrom script is mostly finished...
If you never get past Step 1, then the problem is a DHCP or BSDP issue and you need to look at those network services and the network devices between the machines to resolve the problem. If you don't get the Apple logo, and can't verbose-boot the machine, you probably have a tftp issue. If its anything else, the verbose boot information should point you in the right troubleshooting direction.
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