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Old 06-17-2009, 11:38 AM   #1
KenShelby
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Question Updating Customer Machines


I need to update several hundred industrial compact-PCI machines at widely scattered customer sites around the world.

They are now running Red Hat 3.8 and need to be upgraded to a very specific configuration of Red Hat 4.6 and selected applications. These machines have no CD/DVD drive and no floppy drive. The BIOS does not support booting from a USB drive. The hard disk is a tiny 60GB ATA drive. The boxes do have a NIC, and the BIOS does support bootp.

These upgrades can be applied on site by customer support engineers. While their specific Linux expertise may vary, they can certainly be relied upon to follow instructions.

Any and all suggestions gratefully received!
 
Old 06-17-2009, 12:06 PM   #2
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenShelby View Post
I need to update several hundred industrial compact-PCI machines at widely scattered customer sites around the world.

They are now running Red Hat 3.8 and need to be upgraded to a very specific configuration of Red Hat 4.6 and selected applications. These machines have no CD/DVD drive and no floppy drive. The BIOS does not support booting from a USB drive. The hard disk is a tiny 60GB ATA drive. The boxes do have a NIC, and the BIOS does support bootp.

These upgrades can be applied on site by customer support engineers. While their specific Linux expertise may vary, they can certainly be relied upon to follow instructions.

Any and all suggestions gratefully received!
Well, alot of this "depends"..

If you have support engineers to go on-site, I'd send them out with a spare 60GB drive, already loaded with the OLD configuration, in case something goes wrong, the customer can get up and running again quickly. That said, it isn't too hard to set up a kickstart server on a laptop that the engineer can take on site. Plug it onto the same network as the device, and let kickstart load it all up for you. RedHat support can easily walk you through this, and there's tons of docs on the net for it.

That'd be the way I'd go...but....

If you have the time, configure some new drives at your location. Send them out in waves, to be swapped with the old ones...the old ones come back, to be upgraded to the new OS, and sent out again. Repeat until customers are all upgraded....

Not knowing anything about your software (where the configs are kept, how much (if any), customer data needs to be backed up, etc.), makes it' hard to forumlate better ideas. The kickstart laptop would be the way to go, I think. The next upgrade cycle, you'll have everything in place, and can just copy new images to the support laptops, and away you go....
 
Old 06-17-2009, 12:41 PM   #3
KenShelby
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
Well, alot of this "depends"..
Yeah, doesn't it always.

Quote:
...
it isn't too hard to set up a kickstart server on a laptop that the engineer can take on site
...
Unfortunately, I cannot count on the field guys having a laptop that they can use as a mobile kickstart server. They do all have laptops (running MS Windows), but those machines are the engineers' only connection to corporate email & apps, and as such are under the control of Corporate IT & Networks. Don't think I'd be allowed to put a dual-boot config on 'em even if I could.

Quote:
...
If you have the time, configure some new drives at your location. Send them out in waves, to be swapped with the old ones...the old ones come back, to be upgraded to the new OS, and sent out again. Repeat until customers are all upgraded
...
This was exactly how the machines were maintained back in the days before I came to work here. New policy stipulates that we do something else, now. >shrug<

Quote:
...
Not knowing anything about your software (where the configs are kept, how much (if any), customer data needs to be backed up, etc.), makes it' hard to forumlate better ideas
...
Our apps on the compact-PCI machines are set up pretty simply: programs and config files pretty much all reside in one directory tree under "/opt". The only driver-type stuff is bundled with the VOIP cards we install (from NMS), so we can treat that as a "black box". Any customer data (i.e. voice recording files) is stored on another - larger - server in our system. The little compact-PCI box just handles VOIP and dials the phone calls sent from the big box, in our setup.

Anyway, thanks very much for your reply!

Last edited by KenShelby; 06-17-2009 at 12:48 PM.
 
Old 06-17-2009, 01:08 PM   #4
John VV
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i take it you have thought of using " rsync " after there is a " onsite " back up made
 
Old 06-17-2009, 02:05 PM   #5
TB0ne
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Originally Posted by John VV View Post
i take it you have thought of using " rsync " after there is a " onsite " back up made
Huh...will rsync do a kernel update too?? Never tried that.

But as far as the support laptops go, you can either dual boot them (they shouldn't give you too much of a cramp, since you've got a VERY good reason to do it), or get some external hard drives, and boot the laptop over USB.
 
Old 06-18-2009, 09:20 PM   #6
KenShelby
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I'm thinking of sending the field engineers a VM copy of a kickstart server. If they cable the compact-PCI client and their field laptop together with a crossover, they can do the RHEL install (per my kickstart file) and then install our apps.

Just got the kinks out of a bootp/dhcp/nfs/kickstart server in our lab today. Sure wish the Red Hat docs were better.
 
  


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