Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Automating Ubuntu Installation with Kickstart

Kickstart is a method for providing a predetermined installation configuration for installing Ubuntu. Instead of having a user enter responses on the install screens, the responses can be listed in a kickstart file from which the install process can read. You will need to create a kickstart configuration file on a working Ubuntu system. (Kickstart configuration files have the extension .cfg.) A kickstart file is created for every Ubuntu system that holds the install responses used for that installation. It is located in the root directory at /root/anaconda-ks.cfg.

If you plan to perform the same kind of installation on computers that would be configured in the same way—such as on a local network with hosts that have the same hardware—you could use this kickstart file as a model for performing installations. It is a text file that you can edit, with entries for each install response, such as the following for keyboard and time zone:

keyboard us
timezone America/LosAngeles

More complex responses may take options such as network, which uses --device for the device interface and bootproto for the boot client:

network --device eth0 --bootproto dhcp

Display configuration is more complex, specifying a video card and monitor type, which could vary. You can have the system skip this by using xskip. The first entry is the install source. This will be cdrom for a CD/DVD-ROM install. If you want to use an NFS or Web install instead, you could add that information here, specifying the server name or Web site.

You can also use the system-config-kickstart tool to create your kickstart file. This provides a graphical interface for each install screen. First install the tool. Then, to start it, choose Applications | System Tools | Kickstart. The help manual provides a detailed description on how to use this tool.

The name of the configuration file should be ks.cfg. Once you have created the kickstart file, you can copy it to CD/DVD or even to a floppy disk. You could also place the file on a local hard disk partition (such as a Windows or Linux partition) if you have one. For a network, you could place the file on an NFS server, provided your network is running a DHCP server to enable automatic network configuration on the install computer. When you start the installation, at the boot prompt you specify the kickstart file and its location. In the following example, the kickstart file is located on a floppy disk as /dev/fd0:

linux ks=floppy

You can use hd:device to specify a particular device such as a hard drive or second CD-ROM drive. For an NFS site, you would use nfs:.

Source of Information : McGraw Hill Ubuntu The Complete Reference

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