Kisktart Installations



What are Kickstart Installations?

Many system administrators would prefer to use an automated installation method to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux on their machines. To answer this need, Red Hat created the kickstart installation method. Using kickstart, a system administrator can create a single file containing the answers to all the questions that would normally be asked during a typical installation.

Kickstart files can be kept on a single server system and read by individual computers during the installation. This installation method can support the use of a single kickstart file to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux on multiple machines, making it ideal for network and system administrators.
Kickstart provides a way for users to automate a Red Hat Enterprise Linux installation.
All kickstart scriptlets and the log files of their execution are stored in the /tmp directory to assist with debugging installation failures.


How Do You Perform a Kickstart Installation

Kickstart installations can be performed using:
  • a local DVD, 
  • a local hard drive, 
  • or via NFS, 
  • FTP, HTTP, or HTTPS.
To use kickstart, you must:
  • Create a kickstart file.
  • Create a boot media with the kickstart file or make the kickstart file available on the network.
  • Make the installation tree available.
  • Start the kickstart installation.

This lesson explains these steps in detail.

Creating the Kickstart File


The kickstart file is a simple text file, containing a list of items, each identified by a keyword. You can create it by using the Kickstart Configurator application, or writing it from scratch. 

The Red Hat Enterprise Linux installation program also creates a sample kickstart file based on the options that you selected during installation. It is written to the file /root/anaconda-ks.cfg. 

First, be aware of the following issues when you are creating your kickstart file:

  • Sections must be specified in order. 
  • Items within the sections do not have to be in a specific order unless otherwise specified. 

The section order is:

  1. Command section
  2. The %packages section
  3. The %pre and %post sections , These two sections can be in any order and are not required.

Items that are not required can be omitted.
Omitting any required item results in the installation program prompting the user for an answer to the related item, just as the user would be prompted during a typical installation. Once the answer is given, the installation continues unattended (unless it finds another missing item).

Comments
Lines starting with a pound (also known as hash) sign (#) are treated as comments and are ignored.


Kickstart Options

The following options can be placed in a kickstart file. If you prefer to use a graphical interface for creating your kickstart file, use the Kickstart Configurator application.


Kickstart Configurator 


Kickstart Configurator allows you to create or modify a kickstart file using a graphical user interface, so that you do not have to remember the correct syntax of the file.

Kickstart Configurator is not installed by default on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5. 

yum install system -config-kickstart 

to install the software.

To launch Kickstart Configurator, boot your system into a graphical environment, then run 
System -config-kickstart, 
or click 
Applications System ToolsKickstart on the GNOME desktop 
or
Kickoff Application Launcher+Applications → System → Kickstart on the KDE desktop.

As you are creating a kickstart file, you can click File → Preview at any time to review your current selections.

To start with an existing kickstart file, select File → Open and select the existing file.



Making the Kickstart File Available


A kickstart file must be placed in one of the following locations:
  • On removable media, such as a floppy disk, optical disk, or USB flash drive
  • On a hard drive
  • On a network
Normally a kickstart file is copied to the removable media or hard drive, or made available on the network.
The network-based approach is most commonly used, as most kickstart installations tend to be performed on networked computers.

Making the Kickstart File Available on the Network

Network installations using kickstart are quite common, because system administrators can quickly and
easily automate the installation on many networked computers. 

You will have several scenarios when doing kickstart installation over the network:



  Boot Method Kickstart file Installation Tree
  Case 1 Boot locally  Get kickstart file from local media Get installation directory tree  from the network (NFS/FTP/HTTP)
  Case 2 Boot locally  Get kickstart file from the network ( NFS/FTP/HTTP server) Get installation directory tree  from the network (NFS/FTP/HTTP server)
  Case 3Boot through a PXE enabled NIC from a PXE Server available on the network Get kickstart file from the network ( NFS/FTP/HTTP server) Get installation directory tree  from the network (NFS/FTP/HTTP server)


In this lesson we will illustrate the installation for Case 2 and Case 3 which are the most common.

Case 2

Prior to starting the installation procedure we have  installed an web server with the content of the Linux Installation DVD (extracted and synchronized with public mirrors which support rsync).

The content of the installation tree in this example is available  at :

http://{your-installation-server-ip-address}/centos/6.5/os/i386 

in this example the installation server IP is : http://192.168.221.9/centos/6.5/os/i386

The http server is configured to have /home/student as a root directory thus the path of the installation tree  is mapped to the centos web directort as follows:

 Physical Location URL address
 
/home/student/centos/os/i386

 
 http://192.168.221.9/centos/6.5/os/i386
 /home/student/centos/ks.cfg http://192.168.221.9/centos/ks.cfg