[syslinux] Which version shall i choose ?

Gene Cumm gene.cumm at gmail.com
Sat Aug 17 06:09:48 PDT 2013

On Sat, Aug 17, 2013 at 6:48 AM, Christoph Hanle
<christoph.hanle at leinpfad.de> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I need some suggestions or hints which syslinux version I shall use.
> The main focus will be on PXE boot.
> I have to upgrade due to (expected) performance problems (tftp), so I
> will swich to HTTP boot !

Primary performance issue with TFTP is many PXE systems top out around
1 MB/s, even on Gigabit and 1 switch.  Add additional switches,
especially a layer 3 routing device, and it's even slower (easily
250kB/s or as low as 100kB/s).

Can you deal with a client taking 1-4 minutes to just fetch files?  If
not, you will have a performance issue.

> existing system:
> - syslinux version 4.05 (tftp only)
> - used modules : pxelinux.0, memdisk, vesamenuc32, patched startrom.0

Where does startrom.0 come from?  Some Windows file?

> - I boot .nbi , .iso, .ima and sometimes files (clonezilla etc.)
> - size of the .nbi and .iso : up to 25 MB
> - one main menu (1st. level)and up to 5 submenues (2nd level)
> - 1 GBit backbone , 100Mbit to the clients
> - 1000 boots a day , can be 200 boots within half an hour
> - same files and menus exist 1:1 (without nbi ) on bootable USB-sticks
> and a multiboot CD.
> - every kind of PC / Laptop / Server Hardware will be processed (except
> UEFI only assets).
> - live and stable in production since 2006 on up to 10 locations.
> The new systen has following requirements:
> - get rid of .nbi boot (plus startrom.0)

So planning to direct load of kernel/initrd files or use MEMDISK?

> - 2x1Gbit (later on 10 Gbit) backbone, 1Gbit for the clients

For boot, Gigabit to the client may not make too much difference but
I'd get your backbone and boot/image server(s) up to 10Gbit before
pushing clients up and carefully consider pushing the backbone to
2x10Gbit in some active config (EtherChannel / PortChannel / LACP /
Port Trunk).  Remember that depending on your balancing algorithm, you
could get 1 client flooding link-A, a second client trying to use
link-A and link-B being unused.

> - the "standard" .iso will grow to 60MB or more

I don't know any tftpd that can't handle this (albeit slowly).

> - switch from TFTP to HTTP (at least for the .isos)
> - must be live for production at all locations at the 1st of April 2014

That's quite a bit of time away.  Any idea how much testing needs to
be completed first?

> - old (?) problems with some Dell assets with Broadcom Nics must be
> fixed (syslinux version 4.10)

4.10 was never a full release but 5.1x replaced it.

I believe this behavior was first observed by someone else on a 960.
I'm trying to work through the issue as I've observed it on a Dell
OptiPlex 760 unfortunately my debug build stumbled on another bug and
availability varies.

> - adaptable to usb-boot and multibootCD

Generally, going from PXE to USB/CD is easier as you generally have to
follow a scheme of avoiding prefixing with '/' and carefully consider
prefixing with "../" on PXE.

> - UEFI boot (for production usage) is not part of this project

Which means 6.0x isn't a required target.

> Unfortunally i will get next week the first 60MB.iso for testing.

For a first run at this time, I'd consider gpxelinux.0 from 4.07 or
perhaps 5.01/5.02-pre3/5.11-pre9 and keep an eye on bug #19 (
http://bugzilla.syslinux.org/show_bug.cgi?id=19 ) for possibly
switching to lpxelinux.0.


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