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7. Redhat Client Install

You should have already decided by now using the Quick Guide section of this HOWTO whether you are going to install your machine using the automated process or a manual process. The automated process under Redhat is known as Kickstart and in short provides you with a configuration file for the machine that you are going to install so that you can perform unattended installs of client machines.

7.1 Create Kickstart Config Files

You only need to read/follow this section if you are intending to use an automated install process, if you intend to do a manual installation over your network then skip this section. Here we go through the process of creating configuration files that the installer will read in order to create the configuration of our client machine we are installing during an unattended network installation.

Kickstart Configurator Installation

In order to start creating your config files you will need to install the Kickstart Configurator on your Linux machine. You will need one of two RPMS for this depending on the version of Redhat you are using. These RPMS are available on your Redhat install CDs as follows:

Check to see if you already have them installed with the command:

rpm -q {rpm package name}

If these packages are not installed then install with the command:

rpm -Uvh {rpm package name}

Create A Basic Config File

Once you have confirmed that you have the configurator packages installed, you can now start to create configuration files. For most situations the basic configuration described here will be sufficient to perform your installations.

Start the Kickstart configuration program that you have on your system. This will be done with the command redhad-config-kickstart for Redhat 8.x systems and above (or if you have the redhat-config-kickstart RPM installed), or the command ksconfig for other Redhat systems (or if you have the ksconfig RPM installed).

You will now be presented with a window that allows you to configure most of your installation options as if you were installing a new machine or performing an upgrade. You can proceed through each menu, configuring your options for a particular system or set of similar systems that you wish to automatically install.

Once you have progressed through each configuration screen, you are ready to save out your configuration file to disk. NOTE: it is outside the boundaries of this document to take you through each configuration option for installation, we are just concerned with the principles of network installs here. Please consult your Redhat documentation or the Redhat Website for this information. Click the "save" button and choose a location on your system to store configuration files. If you are creating lots of different configurations then it might be worthwhile creating your own configuration repository - don't forget to name the files sensibly so you know which is which.

Advanced Config File Setup

Before attempting advanced configuration please make sure that you have first created a valid basic configuration file as described above. It is perfectly possible to create your own configuration files from scratch but it is far easier to use the tools provided to do the job for you!

Once you have your configuration file saved, you can open it in your favourite text editor. You can use or modify any of the existing tags in your file, just so long as the tags, options, and syntax you use are legal. Once you have edited the file manually then save it back out in text format again.

The best use of editing the configuration file manually is probably for adding your own customised packages to the installation. Back in the Redhat Server Setup section we describe how to add your own customised packages to your install server. Here, we describe how to access those packages using the configuration file so they can be automatically installed with the rest of the system.

You should be able to locate a packages section in your basic configuration file in your editor. You can add extra packages by name as you require to the end of this list of packages. Follow the format of the other packages that you have listed in the file already from the basic configuration. Packages that start with @ are package group names. You can use any of the default Redhat package groups or you can use any custom groups you may have created.

You can add as many packages and groups under the packages section as you wish. Just put one package on each line and follow the format already provided.

Save your modified configuration file from your text editor and it will then be ready to use in your installations as described below.

7.2 Boot the Machine

It is simplest to use a floppy disk to boot your clients ready for installation. Everything you need is provided for you on the Redhat CDs as follows:

  1. If you have not already created a boot floppy then do it now (you only need to do this step once, when you have a boot floppy you can install as many machines as you like with a single floppy):
    • Locate the floppy image that you need to use. This is on the first Redhat CD and is at images/bootnet.img
    • From the images directory on the CD copy the image to your floppy disk (make sure you have one inserted in the drive, but not mounted) using the following command:
      dd if=bootnet.img of=/dev/fd0
      
  2. If you are doing an automated install (with the config file) then you should follow this step (otherwise skip to next step):
    • Mount your floppy disk
      mount /mnt/floppy
      
    • Copy your config file to the root directory of the floppy with the name ks.cfg
      cp /path/to/file /mnt/floppy
      
    • Umount your floppy disk
      umount /mnt/floppy
      
  3. Insert your floppy disk into the client machine that you want to install Redhat on. Make sure that the floppy disk is in the boot list of your BIOS and turn on your machine to boot from the floppy.
  4. At the boot prompt:
    • If you are doing an automated install:
      linux ks=floppy
      
    • If you're not using config files then press ENTER for the default installation
  5. Finish the installation:
    • If you are doing an automated install then you must complete any parts of the configuration process that you have missed in the config file. If you have a complete config file then you're done so go get yourself a cup of something nice and wait for your install to finish.
    • If you are doing a manual install then you must complete the installation in the normal way, going through each menu of the Redhat install program and selecting the options you require for your machine. When you finish then it's time for a cup of something nice, no need to swap install media here.

Further Boot Options

This is an extension to the technique used to boot client machines for automatic installations as described above. You should try this method if you have tried and failed with the method above. This section should help you if you have had network connection problems during boot, for example, if you do not have a network card supported by the floppy boot disk.

You can create a second floppy disk to use in the boot process which contains extra drivers for network cards. This can then be read on boot and the drivers loaded for your card from there instead. This is done as follows:

  1. In the images directory on your CD you should find a file called drvnet.img.
  2. From the images directory on your CD, copy the file to a different floppy disk with the command:
    dd if=drvnet.img of=/dev/fd0
    
    Again, make sure your floppy disk is not mounted when you run this command.
  3. Now you have a network driver floppy disk. You should return to your installation as described above but now add the keyword dd to your command line.
    • So for automated intall we type:
      linux dd ks=floppy
      
    • For manual install we type:
      linux dd
      
  4. When prompted if you have a driver disk, select YES. Then swap the boot disk for your driver disk and the extra drivers will load and detect your network card.
  5. You should now continue with the installation as described above.

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