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Automating OES 2 Installation Using PXE Boot and AutoYaST

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Michael Faris

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Posted: 1 Nov 2007

Installing OES 2 using PXE Boot and AutoYaST eliminates the need for boot media, installation media and inconsistent server installations.

If you use ZENWorks Preboot Services for your workstation installations, then you know the usefulness of PXE Boot.

Here's what you'll need and how to set it all up.

PXE Setup:

  • TFTP Server – To provide the client (new server) with the boot files.
  • DHCP Server – To provide the client (new server) with an IP address and Options.

Network Installation:

  • AutoYaST – Set of parameters in an XML file to specify installation options.
  • Installation Server – Server based installation media for network Installation.
  • NFS Server – Protocol for accessing the installation media.

I would recommend that this setup be placed on a separate segment or VLAN to eliminate conflicts with existing DHCP servers and ZENworks Preboot Services, if applicable.

Setting up the PXE Server

I used the same server for both the PXE boot and network installation to reduce resources. I used a straight SLES 10 SP1 server without OES 2 services running.

In fact, in the lab, I used a standard desktop PC for the server to test the process, which I do not recommend for a production environment.

  1. Configure the TFTP Server

    Login to the installation server as root and load yast.

    Select Network Services and then TFTP Server.

    Select Enable and type the Boot Image Directory. I used /pxeboot. You can use whatever you choose, and don't worry about creating the directory prior, if it does not exist, it will be created.

    Select Finish.

    Copy the boot loader files to the boot image directory.

    From the SLES10SP1 DVD, or CD 1, copy the files /boot/i386/loader/linux and initrd to /pxeboot

    Copy the file /usr/share/syslinux/pxelinux.0 to /pxeboot

    Create a subdirectory under /pxeboot and name it pxelinux.cfg

    Using your favorite text editor, like vi, create a file called default and place it in /pxeboot/pxelinux.cfg

    Put the following text in /pxeboot/pxelinux.cfg/default
    label linux
    kernel linux
    append initrd=initrd ramdisk_size=65536 
    Save the file and exit.

  2. Configure DHCP Server

    The DHCP Server assigns the IP address to the client (new server) for PXE boot.

    Load YaST, select Network Services then DHCP Server.

    Setup the DHCP server for the subnet you wish to use for the installation segment.

    We need to set some custom DHCP Options for PXE.

    Select Expert Options. Look for the Configured Declarations option and select the new subnet you created and select Edit.

    Add an option and select Filename for the type. Type pxelinux.0 for the filename.

    Add an option and select next-server. Enter the IP address of the TFTP server.

    Select OK and Finish to exit.

Setting up the Network Installation Server

This section provides your clients (new server) to access the media needed for SLES and OES 2 installation. It is relatively straightforward and you will need your SLES 10 SP1 DVD or CDs, OES 2 CD and physical access to the server.

NFS Server is not installed by default. Ensure you install it prior.

Place the SLES 10 SP1 DVD in the server.

Login in as root and load YaST.

Select Miscellaneous and Installation Server.

Select Configure as NFS Source

Note: You can use HTTP or FTP for your source. I chose NFS because tests show that it is faster for data transfer and you would have to ensure that Apache is installed and configured.

Specify the directory where you want the media copied. Ex: /install/slesinst

Set your NFS Options Host and mount options. Defaults are acceptable.

Select Next and select DVD for the source. The copy will take a while.

Repeat for the OES 2 CD.

Configuring AutoYaST

The simplest way to get all the options you want for both SLES and OES 2 is to build a server with OES 2 as an Add-On Product, configure it completely to your organizations guidelines and then Clone this System for AutoYaST at the end of the installation. And then edit the file to remove conflicting data that would cause problems with eDirectory mainly, like Server Name and IP Address.

I have written an article describing new features with AutoYaST to address these conflicts.


Boot a new server and activate PXE Boot. For HP, it's F12.

Here is a similar screen you should see.

If you have configured your boot server correctly, the installation will ensue.


Depending on your environment, this process can save many hours of dredging through multiple server installs.

This is a basic configuration example. Linux offers many possibilities, often depending on your very own imagination and abilities.

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