Kickstart

When you install a Red Hat Enterprise Linux client, there are a number of questions you need to answer. To automate installation, you can create a Kickstart file with all the answers to those questions, so that no user intervention is required.

Kickstart files can be kept on a server and read by individual clients during installation. The same Kickstart file is used to install multiple clients.

Kickstart can be used to schedule a registered system to be installed with a new operating system and package profile, or you can use it to install a new system that was not previously registered, or does not yet have an operating system installed.

For more information about Kickstart, see the Red Hat documentation.

Before you Begin

Some preparation is required for your infrastructure to handle Kickstart installations. Before you create a Kickstart profile, consider:

  • A DHCP server is not required for kickstarting, but it can make things easier. If you are using static IP addresses, select static IP while developing your Kickstart profile.

  • An FTP server can be used instead of hosting the Kickstart distribution tree using HTTP.

  • If you are performing a bare metal Kickstart installation, use these settings:

    • Configure DHCP to assign the required networking parameters and the bootloader program location.

    • In the bootloader configuration file, specify the kernel and appropriate kernel options to be used.

Build a Bootable ISO

You will need to create a bootable ISO image to be used by the target system for installation. When the system is rebooted or switched on, it boots from the image, loads the Kickstart configuration from your Uyuni, and installs Red Hat Enterprise Linux according to the Kickstart profile.

Building a Bootable ISO
  1. Copy the contents of /isolinux from the first CD-ROM of the target distribution.

  2. Edit the isolinux.cfg file to default to 'ks'. Change the 'ks' section to read:

    label ks
    kernel vmlinuz
      append text ks=`url`initrd=initrd.img lang= devfs=nomount \
        ramdisk_size=16438`ksdevice`

    IP address-based Kickstart URLs will look like this:

    http://`my.manager.server`/kickstart/ks/mode/ip_range

    The Kickstart distribution defined via the IP range should match the distribution from which you are building, or errors will occur.

  3. OPTIONAL: If you want to use the ksdevice, it looks like:

    ksdevice=eth0

    It is possible to change the distribution for a Kickstart profile within a family, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 4 to Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES 4, by specifying the new distribution label. Note that you cannot move between versions (4 to 5) or between updates (U1 to U2).

  4. Customize isolinux.cfg further as required. For example, you can add multiple options, different boot messages, or shorter timeout periods.

  5. Create the ISO with this command:

    mkisofs -o file.iso -b isolinux.bin -c boot.cat -no-emul-boot \
      -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -R -J -v -T isolinux/

    Note that isolinux/ is the relative path to the directory containing the modified isolinux files copied from the distribution CD, while file.iso is the output ISO file, which is placed into the current directory.

  6. Burn the ISO to CD-ROM and insert the disk.

  7. Boot the system and type ks at the prompt (if you left the label for the Kickstart boot as 'ks').

  8. Press Enter to start Kickstart.

Integrating with PXE

Instead of using a bootable ISO image, you can use a PXE image instead. This is less error-prone, allows Kickstart installation from bare metal, and integrates with existing PXE/DHCP environments.

To use this method, make sure your systems have network interface cards (NICs) that support PXE. You will need to install and configure a PXE server, ensure DHCP is running, and place the installation repository on an HTTP server that is reachable by the Uyuni Server.

Upload the Kickstart profile to the Uyuni Server using the Uyuni Web UI.

When the AutoYaST profile has been created, use the URL from the Autoinstallation Overview page as the image location.

For more information about autoinstallation profiles, see reference:systems/autoinst-profiles.adoc.