Setup Kickstart Server in Linux ( RHEL/CENTOS)

What is Kickstart?

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 to 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.

To create a kickstart file, you can use Kickstart Configurator.
Kickstart Configurator is not installed by default on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. Run su - yum install system-config-kickstart or use your graphical package manager to install the software.

Setup Kickstart Server in Linux

1.    Install tftp server and enable TFTP service
a.     yum install tftp-server.
b.    Enable TFTP server.
vi /etc/xinetd.d/tftp and change disable to 'no'
c.     service xinetd restart

2.    Install syslinux if not already installed
yum install syslinux

3.    Copy needed files from syslinux to the tftpboot directory
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/pxelinux.0 /tftpboot
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/menu.c32 /tftpboot
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/memdisk /tftpboot
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/mboot.c32 /tftpboot
cp /usr/lib/syslinux/chain.c32 /tftpboot

4.    Create the directory for your PXE menus
mkdir /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg

5.    For each "Release" and "ARCH" Copy vmlinuz and initrd.img from /images/pxeboot/ directory on "disc 1" of that $Release/$ARCH to /tftpboot/images/RHEL/$ARCH/$RELEASE
mkdir -p /tftpboot/images/RHEL/i386/5.
mkdir -p /tftpboot/images/RHEL/i386/5.8
mkdir -p /tftpboot/images/RHEL/x86_64/5.1
mkdir -p /tftpboot/images/RHEL/x86_64/5.8

6.    For RHEL 5.8 x86_64, do the following
mount /dev/cdrom /cdrom
cd /cdrom/images/pxeboot
cp vmlinuz initrd.img /tftpboot/images/RHEL/x86_64/5.8
Do the above for all releases and ARCH you want to kickstart from this server.

7.    Add this to your existing or new /etc/dhcpd.conf.

8.    Note: is the IP address of your PXE server
allow booting;
allow bootp;
option option-128 code 128 = string;
option option-129 code 129 = text;
filename "/pxelinux.0";

9.    Restart DHCP service
  service dhcpd restart

10.  Create Simple or Multilevel PIXIE menu. Create a file called "default" in /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory. A Sample file named "isolinux.cfg" is found on the boot installation media in "isolinux" directory. Copy this file as default and edit this file as per requirement. A sample default file is given bellow.
default menu.c32
prompt 0
timeout 300


LABEL Pmajic
        MENU LABEL Pmajic
        kernel images/pmagic/bzImage
        append noapic initrd=images/pmagic/initrd.gz root=/dev/ram0 init=/linuxrc ramdisk_size=100000

label Dos Bootdisk
        MENU LABEL ^Dos bootdisk
        kernel memdisk
        append initrd=images/622c.img

LABEL RHEL 5 x86 eth0
        MENU LABEL RHEL 5 x86 eth0
        KERNEL images/RHEL/x86/5.8/vmlinuz
        APPEND initrd=images/RHEL/x86_64/5.8/initrd.img ramdisk_size=10000

LABEL RHEL 5 x86_64  eth0
        MENU LABEL RHEL 5 x86_64  eth0
        KERNEL images/RHEL/x86_64/5.8/vmlinuz
        APPEND initrd=images/RHEL/x86_64/5.8/initrd.img ramdisk_size=10000

11.  Install the kickstart Configurator tool. This tool will be helpful to create the kickstart configuration file.
yum install system-config-kickstart

12.  Create the kickstart config file. This file can be created using kickstart Configuration Tool. A Sample file anaconda-ks.cfg based on current installation of a system is placed in /root directory. We can also use this /root/anaconda-ks-cfg as the configuration file. Copy this file to the location specified in the default file. Make sure the directory is NFS exported if you are using NFS for installing the OS.

13.  Modify the kickstart configuration file as per requirement. If you are using NFS for installation, Make sure to copy the ISO images of Linux disks to any NFS server and NFS export the directory. This server/directory details need to be specified in the jumpstart configuration file.

14.  After creating the KS configuration files and copying the ISO images, the installation can be started.