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Emulab FAQ: Software Setup: Can I run my own Operating System?

Emulab FAQ: Software Setup: Can I run my own Operating System?

Yes! You can run your own OS (or a customized version of an Emulab supported OS) on any of the PCs. You can also run OSKit kernels on the PCs. Each of the PCs is partitioned with two DOS partitions large enough to hold the typical OS installation. The 1st and 2nd partitions are each 3GB. The 3rd partition is 500MB, and is labeled as Linux Swap. The 4th partition is the remainder of the disk, and varies in size depending on the pc type. We recommend that you use the 1st or 2nd partition; using the 4th partition will restrict the number of machines that you can run your OS on since it varies in size. Note that you must leave the MBR (Master Boot Record) in sector 0 alone, and that your custom partition must contain a proper DOS boot record in the first sector.

Please note that while users are free to customize their disks and install their own operating systems, Emulab staff will not be able to offer more than encouragement and advice! We cannot install the OS for you, and we cannot load CDROMS, floppy disks, or tape drives! We do provide an easy way for you to boot FreeBSD from a memory based filesystem (MFS) so that you can more easily work with the disk (in case it is not possible to install your OS on a live disk). Beyond that, you are pretty much on your own!

Many users had great success with customizing an Emulab supported OS (FreeBSD or Linux), and then creating a disk image that is autoloaded when the experiment is swapped in. We strongly encourage people to use this approach whenever possible! There is more information available in the Custom OS section of the Emulab Tutorial.