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Setting up the Suse Installation Server

Setting Up an HTTP Installation Server Using YaST

YaST offers a graphical tool for creating installation repositories. Actually repository is a too serious name as we are talking about simple two level directory structure. It supports HTTP, FTP, and NFS network installation servers. HTTP is the most convenient and fast installation source.

  1. Start YaST > Miscellaneous > Installation Server (as root)
  2. Select the repository type (in this case HTTP). Define the directory in which the installation data should be made available on the server.  For example SLES11_SP2-x86_64
  3. Configure the required repository type. This step relates to the automatic configuration of server services. It is skipped when automatic configuration is deactivated.

    Define an name for the directory of the HTTP server on which the installation data should be found.  For example Install. The repository will later be located under http://Server-IP/Install/repository_name/. The name of the repository, which  defined in the following step.

    HINT: Firewall Settings

    Make sure that the firewall settings of your server system allow traffic on the ports for HTTP, NFS, and FTP. If they currently do not, enable Open Port in Firewall or check Firewall Details first.

  4. Configure the repository. Before the installation media are copied to their destination, define the name of the repository (ideally, an easily remembered abbreviation of the product and version). YaST allows providing ISO images of the media instead of copies of the installation DVDs. If you want this, activate the relevant check box and specify the directory path under which the ISO files can be found locally. Depending on the product to distribute using this installation server, it might be that more add-on CDs or service pack CDs are required and should be added as extra repositories.
  5. Upload the installation data. Insert the media in the sequence requested by YaST and wait for the copying procedure to end. When the sources have been fully copied, return to the overview of existing repositories and close the configuration by selecting Finish.

    Your installation server is now fully configured and ready for service.

To deactivate a repository, select the repository to remove then select Delete. The installation data are removed from the system. To deactivate the network service, use the respective YaST module.

If your installation server needs to provide the installation data for more than one product of the product version, start the YaST installation server module and select Add in the overview of existing repositories to configure the new repository

Setting Up an HTTP Repository Manually

Creating an HTTP repository involves creating directory with the product name and inside it several directories for each volume of media (named CD1, CD2 , etc). After that you need to copy content of the media to the corresponding directories, for example the directory structure for SLES 11 SP2 can look like:


Configure the HTTP server to distribute the contents of your installation directory:

  1. Install the Web server Apache as described in Section 29.1.2, Installation, (↑ Administration Guide ).
  2. Enter the root directory of the HTTP server (/srv/www/htdocs) and create the subdirectory that will hold the installation sources. For example
    mkdir repository
  3. Create a symbolic link from the location of the installation sources to the root directory of the Web server (/srv/www/htdocs):
    ln -s /path_to_repository /srv/www/htdocs/repository
For example:
ln -s /depot/Install /srv/www/htdocs/install
  1. Modify the configuration file of the HTTP server (/etc/apache2/default-server.conf) to make it follow symbolic links. Replace the following line:
    Options None


    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
  2. Reload the HTTP server configuration using rcapache2 reload.

If you have an existing openSUSE box setting up the installation server is pretty easy. Here are the steps involved in setting the server up and linking it to the official Novell yast repostories so your new installations get updated packages.

At this point, you can setup new openSUSE machines by installing against this server. You would need to boot the machine with some sort of openSUSE installation media (the DVD, CD1, a properly setup usb key, or the minimal install CD) to get to the installation menu. From there hit F4, enter your FTP installation server and the /sources/suse-10.2-64bit/CD1 directory, press enter, and then continue with the installation. Having the installation server is really nice because you can control and manage a single, consistent set of rpms.

Setting up autoyast

Just having a central installation server is great but with autoyast you can almost completely automate installation of new openSUSE servers. This works by creating an autoyast control file at which you point new installations. The control file can include instructions for disk partitioning, installed software, services, custom config files, and directions to run extra scripts at various stages of the installation. The link at the top of this post provides a pretty good overview and the documentation here is very helpful as well. That documentation provides almost all of the information you need so where details are excluded from the following look there.

In my specific case (an autoyast file for JBoss servers) the process went like this:

Though the number of steps I just listed seems long, these autoyast files are really very quick to make. You could create any number of them for different machine roles and make them all available for new installs.

Setting up a New Server

Now that you have an installation server (FTP-based in this specific case) and all the autoyast files and other resources a new machine could need, you can setup a new machine from scratch by doing the following:

Now, when I set this up, GRUB wouldnít boot the newly installed machine. It turned out that the kernel version I was running on the reference server (and from which I generated the initial autoyast file) was different from the kernel provided by the installation server. This meant in my autoyast file the GRUB configuration portion was trying to reference a file (vmlinuz- that didnít exist. So make sure your installation server is tied to the official repositories and make sure your reference machine is fully up to date before creating the baseline autoyast file.

I used this same approach to create configurations for JBoss, e-mail, and basic openSUSE-based servers.

2 Comments Ľ

  1. Simon said,

    September 16, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Good tutorial - have been using linux for years, but always been scared off network installs.

    Weíre now rolling out boxes out 10 times faster than before.

    Thanks for the help!



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