I have found it to be quite nice to be able to boot the Alix board over the network using PXE. Using the Debian netboot.tar.gz tarball and TFTP I can boot the Debian Installer or a rescue system, and the former lets me install Debian Linux without physically touching the CF.
In order to make netboot use the serial port as console I have patched the Debian netboot tarball, and I made a script that does all the patching, just for you…
The script will modify the file syslinux.cfg in order to make PXELinux use the serial port, and the files adtxt.cfg, rqtxt.cfg and txt.cfg to make sure that the Linux kernel (actually the Debian installer in this case) also uses the serial port as console. (Look at the script to see the actual changes. You should of course have a look at it before running it, anyway.)
Making my ancient Netgear WGT634U running OpenWRT serve PXE images was really a no-brainer. In the Services/Dnsmasq page I entered the three choices shown below, with the patched netboot untarred on a USB stick mounted on /mnt/sda2.
References (other that links above):
- http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/ch04s05.html.en—about setting up a TFTP server for netboot.
- http://www.thekelleys.org.uk/dnsmasq/docs/dnsmasq-man.html—as above, for dnsmasq
- http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/478—more on dnsmasq
- http://etherboot.org/wiki/dnsmasq—even more on dnsmasq and PXE
Some more patching lets me use preseeding too, but more on that another time.