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Old 11-15-2013, 04:04 PM   #1
pauldean
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Question Setting up small lab - trying to decide installation method


Greetings, Forum Members, just arrived and looking forward to the wonderful exchange of knowledge. Unfortunately, it might be a little one-sided to start, but I pick up speed quickly. :-)

For now, I have a question.
I've been asked to do a tech refresh on some pre-existing servers, 5 old PCs actually, 3 desktops & 2 old towers, to make a working lab for this development team. I have complete access to the machines, but some servers host live applications will have to be moved around while I reinstall the OS on each box.

They've been using Fedora so I'm moving them up to version 18.
So here's my question: What recommendations might anyone have for installation methods for this size lab? I originally thought of setting up a kickstart server, and may yet. I then thought of using a simple NFS mounted repository, but to do that I still need to boot from media to get to the installer. So, I burned some DVDs, and figured then, that I could just install from media after all.
So, I would really like some feedback from those here who may have gone before and faced a similar decision.

The object is to setup this lab and turn it over to the locals, along with a wiki of "what to do if ..." scenarios to make any sys admin tasks as easy to complete as possible.

Please share your opinions.
Thanks, Paul
 
Old 11-15-2013, 04:10 PM   #2
snowpine
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Welcome to the forums Paul!
Unfortunately I do not have experience with this type of deploy, so I will not make up some random advice.
The one thing I do want to mention is to make sure you are aware that all support for Fedora 18 will be ending in a couple of months. So you will either need to upgrade all the machines at that time, or leave your client with an end-of-life operating system. Personally I would go with a long-term-support distribution such as CentOS. Just my 2 cents...
 
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Old 11-15-2013, 04:22 PM   #3
schneidz
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this is what i do with my work laptop (which has windows on the harddrive). i use fedoras live-usb-creator to create a bootable drive then i yum install/configure all the stuff i want.
i use dd to image the drive and save it for safe keeping.

i suppose at this point you can install it on each of your pc's so that they have the same configuration.
 
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Old 11-15-2013, 06:07 PM   #4
selfprogrammed
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I would not turn a network install over to the locals. The locals will find a way to damage anything and the most important achievement is to limit the amount of damage they can do in any particular mistake.

I favor the clone drive, or the install CD, or similar methods.
I tend to install from the install CD on multiple machines, but that is because they are not identical and each requires its own customization. So I keep the config from the last customization and a NOTES file on what I had to do.

These are kept in multiple places so I can easily recreate from any disaster.
Keep a copy of such information, FOR EACH MACHINE. They will not stay identical enough that you can remember the little differences in each.
Be meticulous and write down everything discovered about a machine. This pays off later when you can just look things up. For this I keep a small black college notebook with about 10 pages reserved for each machine.

The most critical things are:
The partition table.
BIOS settings.
The Linux version and selections in the install.
Kernel config file (especially if you have compiled a custom version).
A copy of any file in /etc. or /etc/rc.d that you have altered from the install copy.

Last edited by selfprogrammed; 11-15-2013 at 06:12 PM.
 
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Old 11-15-2013, 06:20 PM   #5
pauldean
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Good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
Welcome to the forums Paul!
Unfortunately I do not have experience with this type of deploy, so I will not make up some random advice.
The one thing I do want to mention is to make sure you are aware that all support for Fedora 18 will be ending in a couple of months. So you will either need to upgrade all the machines at that time, or leave your client with an end-of-life operating system. Personally I would go with a long-term-support distribution such as CentOS. Just my 2 cents...
I need to stick with Fedora, so I guess it's take a chance on The Cat(19).
Thanks, snowpine.
 
Old 11-15-2013, 06:24 PM   #6
pauldean
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USB drive solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by schneidz View Post
this is what i do with my work laptop (which has windows on the harddrive). i use fedoras live-usb-creator to create a bootable drive then i yum install/configure all the stuff i want.
i use dd to image the drive and save it for safe keeping.

i suppose at this point you can install it on each of your pc's so that they have the same configuration.
I sacrificed my favorite memory stick, for now, until I can get another.
I used the live-usb-creator on my corporate laptop, so windows, and it seems to have worked fine.
I'll head over to the lab in a few minutes and try it out. Seems like a nice solution, but not much different than a small case of DVD images. Way cooler though.
Thanks for you solution.
 
Old 11-15-2013, 06:42 PM   #7
pauldean
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Thumbs up CD/DVD install and lots of good advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selfprogrammed View Post
I would not turn a network install over to the locals. The locals will find a way to damage anything and the most important achievement is to limit the amount of damage they can do in any particular mistake.

I favor the clone drive, or the install CD, or similar methods.
I tend to install from the install CD on multiple machines, but that is because they are not identical and each requires its own customization. So I keep the config from the last customization and a NOTES file on what I had to do.

These are kept in multiple places so I can easily recreate from any disaster.
Keep a copy of such information, FOR EACH MACHINE. They will not stay identical enough that you can remember the little differences in each.
Be meticulous and write down everything discovered about a machine. This pays off later when you can just look things up. For this I keep a small black college notebook with about 10 pages reserved for each machine.

The most critical things are:
The partition table.
BIOS settings.
The Linux version and selections in the install.
Kernel config file (especially if you have compiled a custom version).
A copy of any file in /etc. or /etc/rc.d that you have altered from the install copy.
Thank you, selfprogrammed, for your response. It's is very good advice, all around.
I'm keeping installation media in a few different formats and different places for safe keeping.
I've also been keeping the entire etc directory, and /root to get the previous anaconda config file in case I end up putting kickstart in place. And a bunch of other stuff since I have to migrate applications as I rebuild and repupose each server.
All of this will go either in the archives or in the team wiki, which will be running on one of the servers, but will need hard copies of the instructions too. Can't have a potential single point of failure contain the only copy of the Disaster Recovery instructions. That would not be good.
Thanks, again, selfprogrammed, for you input.
 
Old 11-15-2013, 08:44 PM   #8
schneidz
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this mite be helpful:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...3/#post4981710
 
Old 11-20-2013, 08:20 PM   #9
pauldean
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Question Install methods, repositories- NFS/Kickstart/etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by schneidz View Post
Thanks for the response, schniedz, but I think we're getting off topic. At the very least, I didn't follow the posts.

I'm trying to decide what install method is best for a small lab which belongs to a java development team with almost zero permanent Linux resources on the team for system's administration tasks. I'm here only for a short while to clean it up and set up everything up and turn it over.

So. Right now I'm installing from DVDs. I wanted to set up an NFS repository, but I cannot find the right magic in the Fedora-19 documentation or in the Fedora-18 docs for that matter, to get the graphical anaconda to look at the NFS repo and I cannot get to the boot: prompt. The reason for testing an NFS repository is that ultimately, I'm going to have to set up a kickstart repository and I thought doing an NFS install would be an easy way of testing a network based repository.

Now, as I mentioned, I can't even get to a "boot:" prompt to try what I thought would be the simplest way to do an NFS install. All I can get to is a grub prompt and all the docs say to get to the boot: prompt and enter some commands to set up and do the install. It would seem that Schrödinger’s Cat has chosen my machine as its litter box. I'm a newbie, I admit freely. But I think I can hit a few keystrokes while the system is coming up.

Until I can finish setting up a kickstart repo and write a couple pre- and post- scripts, I'm stuck with installing from DVD.
Yuck.
I'm sorry I could not see what you wanted me to see in the other posts.
Thanks, again, schneidz.
 
Old 11-21-2013, 10:51 AM   #10
schneidz
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on second read it seems not very related... what i was pointing to was a method of creating an image of a live-usb that is perfectly configured the way i like. if all your pc's were the same you can install from that image.

you seem to want to boot from the network to initiate the install. i think that is related to pxeboot which i have no experience with. i'll do a little research and if i find something valuable i'll post a link.
 
Old 11-21-2013, 05:21 PM   #11
selfprogrammed
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To boot Linux the kernel must be able to read the harddrive filesystem before it loads any helper modules or programs.
There are a few filesystems that are built into the huge kernels.
This is usually ext2 ext3 ext4, sometimes reiser, but not NFS. The kernel requires a helper to access the NFS filesystem. I don't know if a more recent kernel than the ones I use would allow you to create a custom kernel with NFS built into the kernel. It is not adequate to have it loaded as a module.

The filesystem that Linux is booted from, must be built-in to the kernel without using modules.
It is unlikely that there are install options for filesystems that a normal Linux kernel could not boot from.

One solution to this is to have one ext2 (or ext3, or ext4) partition on the system, used to boot Linux. This partition contains at least the kernel, modules, /sbin, /bin, /etc and /lib, and usually /usr/bin and /usr/lib too. User directories (/home) and user data can be on NFS filesystems that are mounted late in the Linux boot process.

It would be better for Linux if you just kept everything on a ext2 partition, and limit NFS to just the usage that needs NFS. Trying to run Linux programs off a NFS filesystem is an added set of problems that you just do not need. It does not simplify anything.
It complicates things terribly because Linux kernel operations are not prepared to deal with the NFS differences from normal Linux filesystems.

Last edited by selfprogrammed; 11-21-2013 at 05:25 PM.
 
Old 11-22-2013, 07:06 PM   #12
pauldean
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Angry NFS Installation - cannot get the options right.

Hi selfprogrammed, thanks again for the response.
I'm not sure how we got to modifying the kernel, but I'm not trying to do that. Wouldn't want to, (shudder).

So, here's the way I'm tying to do this.
I setup a NFS repository. See the following link to section 8.1.3. Installing via NFS

https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US...stalls-x86-nfs
First, I'm booting the kernel from a Fedora-19-i386-DVD.

And I get hung up right away. See the Note and the bottom of the page below. I'm supposed to be able to enter these commands from the boot: prompt. But, I cannot get to the boot: prompt!

https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US...nstall-nfs-x86
No matter where I go or what I try. I cannot find the right keystrokes or path to get there. I can get to the BIOS, the grub menu, which let's me to the grub> prompt.

I wanted to try the vnc option so I can do some of this remotely, but without the mystical boot: prompt, not happenin'.

I've even tried the Installation without media process, in Chapter 12. It works, but I cannot get to the boot: prompt.

So, where do I enter the NFS and IP information. Well, anaconda eventually loads and youi get an option to enter that information in the NFS config boxes, but I cannot get the syntax right. It doesn't tell me what's wrong, just that it's wrong.

So, I'm about ready to abort and just go down the kickstart path. I need to do that anyway.

Let me know what you think.
Thanks for your help.
- Paul
 
Old 11-22-2013, 09:04 PM   #13
pauldean
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Lightbulb boot: prompt - only one shot?

OK, so I've gotten toa boot: prompt now, but if appears you cannot enter more than one line. Is that what I've been missing? Are you required to enter every option on one line? OMG, if that's the case, I'm really dense.
but being the trooper, I tried that. I piled on the IP=information, and the repo=information and still it just takes it and dumps into anaconda and then your left with the stupid box to add the nfs repo options and heaven help yoiu guessing what those options are. Not to mention, all the information I added on the linux command at the boot: prompt, is gone, I have to enter it all again.
I may be slow, but this installation tool is ridiculous. An the docs, while proliferous, is so disorganized it's like they expect you to memorize the entire doc. Which I pretty much have by now.
I'm calling it quits for the night.
Thanks, all, for listening.
 
Old 11-25-2013, 02:19 PM   #14
selfprogrammed
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauldean View Post
I'm not sure how we got to modifying the kernel, but I'm not trying to do that. Wouldn't want to, (shudder).
Then you did not understand what I was telling you. And the rest is more confusing.
You are trying to make all your hard drives use NFS. NFS is not a native Linux filesystem, and it would be surprising if you found a kernel that would boot from a NFS filesystem drive.

Please abandon the idea of having pure NFS filesystems. You must have read something and misunderstood.
Trying to make Linux boot from NFS involves very advanced activities like making a customized kernel. Compiling your own customized kernel is sometimes necessary, and mostly involves making many choices from a long set of menus. I am not sure if recent kernels would even have a choice that allows NFS as the boot partition filesystem. From what I remember of those options it is not possible to customize the kernel to do that. That means that no one else (like Fedora) could have done it either. And that would mean that Fedora does not have a kernel that can boot from NFS.

Installing from an ISO image kept on a NFS filesystem is entirely different. The install is using a kernel that is running and has a native Linux filesystem to load the helper modules that allow reading NFS drives. The fedora installation notes "Linux repo=" look like instructions to access a repository on NFS from the installer, not how to install with the intention of booting from NFS.

There are many options to select during install, and building an image of the successful install to repeat on other machines is useful. Those images would be stored in a repository which can be kept on a NFS filesystem (to do network install). This is about install source media and has nothing to do with having NFS target install drives.

Everything you are doing to boot from NFS is counter-productive. I am experienced and I would not try to do that. Put your installation on an Ext2 partition and mount those NFS drives AFTER it boots.

Most installers scan the system for acceptable drives to install into, and then lists them on a menu for you to choose from. You choose the drive partition that you want Linux installed onto.
It is likely that the NFS filesystems that you are trying to install onto are not acceptable and so are not listed. If you have all NFS, then there are no acceptable install partitions and that will block you right there.

There are ways for desperate people to temporarily install Linux using the Windows filesystem (without partitioning). They really do not apply here.

Kickstart is an automated installer used by Red Hat to automate the install answers.
It applies when all the machines are identical and the installation answers are identical.
It did not sound like your machines were that identical. Also you need a set of install answers that work to feed to Kickstart. Kickstart will replay them to repeat at the next install.

Kernel options are usually all on one line. They are also on an options line in the Lilo or Grub boot entry. These are options for certain hardware drivers to configure them to the actual hardware, generally because the automatic scan is inadequate. But installer commands do not go on those lines.

I do not do network installs, so have no experience using Kickstart, or NFS repositories.
But I expect that it requires having one valid install to one of the machines first, in order to create the image that goes into the repository. If you have done this already I cannot tell.
1. Install to one of the machines
2. Create image of that install to repository.
3. Use repository image to install to other machines.
You seem to be starting at step 3, as far as I can tell.

Last edited by selfprogrammed; 11-25-2013 at 02:44 PM.
 
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Old 11-25-2013, 05:16 PM   #15
John VV
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now you are aware that in 7 to 8 month you are going to have to REINSTALL
using fedora 21 ( fedora 19 will hit it's end of life 30 DAYS after 21 comes out )
( upgrading and SKIPPING a version has never been supported)
or
in about 90 days
UPGRADE the WHOLE lab to fedora 20 ( fedora 20 comes out in about 1 month )

fedora only supports any one version for 13 months

in comparison
RHEL6 has a 10 YEAR life span
10 years VS 13 months ???
 
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