ServersTip of the Trade: Kickstart

Tip of the Trade: Kickstart

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Red Hat’s Kickstart is a versatile, easy-to-use customization tool that gets better with age. With Kickstart, Fedora and Red Hat Linux users can easily customize and replicate installations. Every installation automatically creates a Kickstart file, so one way to create a perfect installation image is to perform a custom installation, selecting exactly the desired package, then using the resulting Kickstart file to replicate it.

Fedora and Red Hat Linux users can easily customize and replicate their installations using Red Hat’s Kickstart, a versatile and easy-to-use customization tool.

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Fedora even has a graphical Kickstart editor, Applications – System Tools – Kickstart. But they aren’t difficult to edit, as they are plain-text files with one option per line. They are found in /root/anaconda-ks.cfg. This is a short snippet from a typical ks.cfg file:

timezone America/Vancouver
bootloader --location=mbr
part /boot --fstype ext3 --size=256 --ondisk=sda
part / --fstype ext3 --size=102400 --grow --ondisk=sda
part swap --size=512 --ondisk=s
@ dialup

The installation files can be anywhere — CD, DVD, network server, or just about any other medium. The installation is started with a boot option that specifies the location of the kickstart file. This example shows how to use a an HTTP server:

linux ks=

A slick way to install dozens, or even hundreds of nodes at once is to use Kickstart, PXE boot, a DHCP server and an TFTP server. For a detailed howto, see the Red Hat System Administration Guide.

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