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7 Activation Key Management

7.1 What are Activation Keys?

An activation key in SUSE Manager is a group of configuration settings with a label. You can apply all configuration settings associated with an activation key by adding its label as a parameter to a bootstrap script. Under normal operating conditions best practices suggest using an activation key label in combination with a bootstrap script.

An activation key can specify:

  • Channel Assignment

  • System Types (Traditionally called Add-on Entitlements)

  • Contact Method

  • Configuration Files

  • Packages to be Installed

  • System Group Assignment

Activation keys are just a collection of configuration settings which have been given a label name and then added to a bootstrap script. When the bootstrap script is executed all configuration settings associated with the label are applied to the system the script is run on.

7.2 Provisioning and Configuration

provision config keys
Figure 7.1: Provisioning and Configuration Overview

7.3 Activation Keys Best Practices

There are a few important concepts which should be kept in mind when creating activation keys. The following sections provide insight when creating and naming your activation keys.

7.3.1 Key Label Naming

One of the most important things to consider during activation key creation is label naming. Creating names which are associated with your organization’s infrastructure will make it easier for you when performing more complex operations. When naming key labels keep the following in mind:

  • OS naming (mandatory): Keys should always refer to the OS they provide settings for

  • Architecture naming (recommended): Unless your company is running on one architecture only, for example x86_64, then providing labels with an architecture type is a good idea.

  • Server type naming: What is, or what will this server be used for?

  • Location naming: Where is the server located? Room, building, or department?

  • Date naming: Maintenance windows, quarter, etc.

  • Custom naming: What naming scheme suits your organizations needs?

Example activation key label names:


7.3.2 Channels which will be Included

When creating activation keys you also need to keep in mind which channels (software sources) will be associated with it.

Important: Default Base Channel

Keys should have a specific base channel assigned to it, for example SLES12-SP2-Pool-x86_64. If this is not the case SUSE Manager cannot use specific stages. Using the default base channel is not recommended and may cause problems.

  • Channels to be included:

    • suse-manager-tools

  • Typical packages to be included:

    • osad (pushing tasks)

      • Installs python-jabberpy and pyxml as dependencies

    • rhncfg-actions (Remote Command, Configuration Managment)

      • Installs rhncfg and rhncfg-client as dependencies

7.4 Combining Activation Keys

You can combine activation keys when executing the bootstrap script on your clients. Combining keys allows for more control on what is installed on your systems and reduces duplication of keys for large complex environments.

combine keys
Figure 7.2: Combining Activation Keys
combine keys2
Figure 7.3: Combining Activation Keys 2

7.5 Using Activation Keys and Bootstrap with Traditional Clients (Non-Salt)

Create the initial bootstrap script template from the command line on the SUSE Manager server with:

# mgr-bootstrap

This command will generate the bootstrap script and place them in /srv/www/htdocs/pub/bootstrap .

Alternatively you may use the Web UI to create your bootstrap script template. For more information, see Book “Reference Manual”, Chapter 17 “Admin”, Section 17.4 “Main Menu › Admin › Manager Configuration”, Section 17.4.2 “Manager Configuration › Bootstrap Script.

Use the Web UI to create your keys. From the Web UI proceed to Overview › Tasks › Manage Activation Keys .

7.6 Using Activation Keys when Registering Salt Minions

With the addition of Salt to SUSE Manager  3 states should now be considered best practice over the more traditional way of combining activation keys. Although states allow for more configuration options you need to place the new system within the correct group so the desired states will be applied to the system. Using an activation key on your minions will place the system within the correct group automatically.

You should be aware of a few facts when working with Salt over traditional activation keys:

  • Currently we do not support specifying an activation key on the minion on-boarding page.

  • Activation keys used with Salt minions are the same as those used with traditional systems and may be shared.

  • The equivalent of specifying a key using the traditional bootstrap method is to place the desired key in the grain of a minion. For more information on grains, see https://docs.saltstack.com/en/latest/topics/targeting/grains.html

  • Once a minion has been accepted either from the Salt › Keys page located in the Web UI or from the command line, all configurations specified by the activation key placed within a salt grain will be applied.

  • Currently you may only use one activation key when working with salt. You cannot combine them, despite this, salt states allow for even more control.

7.6.1 Using an Activation Key and Custom Grains File

Create a custom grains file and place it on the minion here:

# /etc/salt/grains

Then add the following lines to the grains file replacing 1-sles12-sp2 with your activation key label:

  activation_key: 1-sles12-sp2

Now restart the minion with:

# systemctl restart salt-minion

7.6.2 Using an Activation Key in the Minion Configuration File

You may also place the activation key grain within the minion configuration file located in:

# /etc/salt/minion

Now add the following lines to the minion configuration file replacing 1-sles12-sp2 with your activation key label:

    activation_key: 1-sles12-sp2

Reboot the minion with:

# systemctl restart salt-minion
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