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documentation.suse.com / Documentazione di SUSE Linux Enterprise Server / AutoYaST Guide / Understanding the auto-installation process / The auto-installation process
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP3

9 The auto-installation process

9.1 Introduction

After the system has booted into an automatic installation and the control file has been retrieved, YaST configures the system according to the information provided in the control file. All configuration settings are summarized in a window that is shown by default and should be deactivated if a fully automatic installation is needed.

By the time YaST displays the summary of the configuration, YaST has only probed hardware and prepared the system for auto-installation. Nothing has been changed in the system yet. In case of any error, you can still abort the process.

A system should be automatically installable without the need to have any graphic adapter or monitor. Having a monitor attached to the client machine is nevertheless recommended so you can supervise the process and to get feedback in case of errors. Choose between the graphical and the text-based Ncurses interfaces. For headless clients, system messages can be monitored using the serial console.

9.1.1 X11 interface (graphical)

This is the default interface while auto-installing. No special variables are required to activate it.

9.1.2 Serial console

Start installing a system using the serial console by adding the keyword console (for example console=ttyS0) to the command line of the kernel. This starts linuxrc in console mode and later YaST in serial console mode.

9.1.3 Text-based YaST installation

This option can also be activated on the command line. To start YaST in text mode, add textmode=1 on the command line.

Starting YaST in the text mode is recommended when installing a client with less than 64 MB or when X11 should not be configured, especially on headless machines.

9.2 Choosing the right boot medium

There are different methods for booting the client. The computer can boot from its network interface card (NIC) to receive the boot images via DHCP or TFTP. Alternatively a suitable kernel and initrd image can be loaded from a flash disk (for example, a USB stick) or a bootable DVD-ROM.

YaST will check for autoinst.xml in the root directory of the boot medium or the initrd upon start-up and switch to an automated installation if it was found. In case the control file is named differently or located elsewhere, specify its location on the kernel command line with the parameter AutoYaST=URL.

Alternatively, you can place the autoinst.xml to a device, mounted either physically or virtually, that is labeled OEMDRV. In this case, you do not need to specify the location of the autoinst.xml on the kernel command line. The autoinst.xml must be located in the root directory of the device.

9.2.1 Booting from a flash disk (for example, a USB stick)

For testing/rescue purposes or because the NIC does not have a PROM or PXE, you can build a bootable flash disk to use with AutoYaST. Flash disks can also store the control file.

Tip: Copying the installation medium image to a removable flash disk

Use the following command to copy the contents of the installation image to a removable flash disk.

> sudo dd if=IMAGE of=FLASH_DISK bs=4M && sync

IMAGE needs to be replaced with the path to the SLE-15-SP3-Online-ARCH-GM-media1.iso or SLE-15-SP3-Full-ARCH-GM-media1.iso image file. FLASH_DISK needs to be replaced with the flash device. To identify the device, insert it and run:

# grep -Ff <(hwinfo --disk --short) <(hwinfo --usb --short)
      /dev/sdc             General USB Flash Disk

Make sure the size of the device is sufficient for the desired image. You can check the size of the device with:

# fdisk -l /dev/sdc | grep -e "^/dev"
      /dev/sdc1  *     2048 31490047 31488000  15G 83 Linux

In this example, the device has a capacity of 15 GB. The command to use for the SLE-15-SP3-Full-ARCH-GM-media1.iso would be:

dd if=SLE-15-SP3-Full-ARCH-GM-media1.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=4M && sync

The device must not be mounted when running the dd command. Note that all data on the partition will be erased!

9.2.2 Booting from the SUSE Linux Enterprise installation medium

You can use the SUSE Linux Enterprise installation medium (SLE-15-SP3-Online-ARCH-GM-media1.iso or SLE-15-SP3-Full-ARCH-GM-media1.iso) in combination with other media. For example, the control file can be provided via a flash disk or a specified location on the network. Alternatively, create a customized installation media that includes the control file.

9.2.3 Booting via PXE over the network

Booting via PXE requires a DHCP and a TFTP server in your network. The computer will then boot without a physical medium. For instructions on setting up the required infrastructure, see Capitolo 11, Installazione remota.

If you install via PXE, the installation will run in an endless loop. This happens because after the first reboot, the machine performs the PXE boot again and restarts the installation instead of booting from the hard disk for the second stage of the installation.

There are several ways to solve this problem. You can use an HTTP server to provide the AutoYaST control file. Alternatively, instead of a static control file, run a CGI script on the Web server that provides the control file and changes the TFTP server configuration for your target host. This way, the next PXE boot of the machine will be from the hard disk by default.

Another way is to use AutoYaST to upload a new PXE boot configuration for the target host via the control file:

  <pxe_localboot config:type="boolean">true</pxe_localboot>
    DEFAULT linux
    LABEL linux
    localboot 0

This entry will upload a new configuration for the target host to the TFTP server shortly before the first reboot happens. In most installations the TFTP daemon runs as user nobody. You need to make sure this user has write permissions to the pxelinux.cfg directory. You can also configure the file name that will be uploaded. If you use the magic __MAC__ file name, the file name will be the MAC address of your machine like, for example 01-08-00-27-79-49-ee. If the file name setting is missing, the IP address will be used for the file name.

To do another auto-installation on the same machine, you need to remove the file from the TFTP server.

9.3 Invoking the auto-installation process

9.3.1 Command line options

Adding the command line variable autoyast causes linuxrc to start in automated mode. The linuxrc program searches for a configuration file, which should be distinguished from the main control file, in the following places:

  • in the root directory of the initial RAM disk used for booting the system;

  • in the root directory of the boot medium.

The linuxrc configuration file supports multiple keywords. For a detailed description of how linuxrc works and other keywords, see Appendix C, Advanced linuxrc options. Some of the more common ones are:


Initiate an automatic upgrade using AutoYaST; see Section 4.10, “Upgrade”.


Location of the control file for automatic installation; see AutoYaST control file locations for details.


Configure and start the network. Required if the AutoYaST is to be fetched from a remote location. See Section C.3, “Advanced network setup” for details.


Kernel modules to load


Location of the installation directory, for example install=nfs://

Note: Disabling SSL checks

When you are using HTTPS, SSL checking is enabled by default. If necessary, you can disable SSL checking by appending ssl_verify=no to your HTTPS URL, like the following examples:


If you are passing multiple query options, separate them with ampersands:


See the "FTP/HTTP/HTTPS directory tree" section of man 8 zypper for more information.


Installation mode, for example nfs, http etc. (not needed if install is set).


Password for root user if not specified in AutoYaST profile


Server (NFS) to contact for source directory


Directory on NFS Server


Even with <confirm>no</confirm> in the control file, the confirm proposal comes up.

These variables and keywords will bring the system up to the point where YaST can take over with the main control file. Currently, the source medium is automatically discovered, which in some cases makes it possible to initiate the auto-install process without giving any instructions to linuxrc.

The traditional linuxrc configuration file (info) has the function of giving the client enough information about the installation server and the location of the sources. Usually, this file is not required, but it is needed in special network environments where DHCP and BOOTP are not used or when special kernel modules need to be loaded.

You can pass keywords to linuxrc using the kernel command line. This can be done in several ways. You can specify linuxrc keywords along with other kernel parameters interactively at boot time, in the usual way. You can also insert kernel parameters into custom network-bootable disk images. It is also possible to configure a DHCP server to pass kernel parameters in combination with Etherboot or PXE.

Note: Using autoyast2 boot option instead of autoyast

The autoyast2 option is similar to the autoyast option, but linuxrc parses the provided value and, for example, tries to configure a network when needed. This option is not described in this documentation. For information about differences between the AutoYaST and linuxrc URI syntax, see the linuxrc appendix: Appendix C, Advanced linuxrc options. AutoYaST's rules and classes are not supported.

The command line variable autoyast can be used in the format described in the following list.

AutoYaST control file locations
Format of URIs

The autoyast syntax for the URIs for your control file locations can be confusing. The format is SCHEMA://HOST/PATH-TO-FILE. The number of forward slashes to use varies. For remote locations of your control file, the URI looks like this example for an NFS server, with two slashes: autoyast=nfs://SERVER/PATH.

It is different when your control file is on a local file system. For example, autoyast=usb:///profile.xml is the same as autoyast=usb://localhost/profile.xml. You may omit the local host name, but you must keep the third slash. autoyast=usb://profile.xml will fail because profile.xml is interpreted as the host name.

When no control file specification is needed

For upgrades, no autoyast variable is needed for an automated offline upgrade, see Procedure 4.1, “Starting AutoYaST in offline upgrade mode”.

For new installations, autoyast will be started if a file named autoinst.xml is in one of the following three locations:

  1. The root directory of the installation flash disk (for example, a USB stick)

  2. The root directory of the installation medium

  3. The root directory of the initial RAM disk used to boot the system


Looks for control file in the specified path, relative to the source root directory, for example file:///autoinst.xml when the control file is in the top-level directory of any local file system, including mounted external devices such as a CD or USB drive. (This is the same as file://localhost/autoinst.xml.)


Looks for the control file on a storage device. Do not specify the full path to the device, but the device name only (for example, device://vda1/autoyast.xml). You may also omit specifying the device and trigger autoyast to search all devices, for example, autoyast=device://localhost/autoinst.xml, or autoyast=device:///autoinst.xml.


Looks for the control file on an NFS server.


Retrieves the control file from a Web server using the HTTP protocol. Specifying a user name and a password is optional.


Retrieves the control file from a Web server using HTTPS. Specifying a user name and a password is optional.


Retrieve the control file via TFTP.


Retrieve the control file via FTP. Specifying a user name and a password is optional.


Retrieve the control file from USB devices (autoyast will search all connected USB devices).


Retrieve the control file from the installation source: either from the default installation source or from the installation source defined in install=INSTALLATION_SOURCE_PATH.


Looks for the control file on a CIFS server.


Searches for a control file on a device with the specified label.

Several scenarios for auto-installation are possible using different types of infrastructure and source media. The simplest way is to use the appropriate installation media of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLE-15-SP3-Online-ARCH-GM-media1.iso or SLE-15-SP3-Full-ARCH-GM-media1.iso). But to initiate the auto-installation process, the auto-installation command line variable should be entered at system boot-up and the control file should be accessible for YaST.

In a scripting context, you can use a serial console for your virtual machine, that allows you to work in text mode. Then you can pass the required parameters from an expect script or equivalent.

The following list of scenarios explains how the control file can be supplied:

Using the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server installation media

When using the original installation media (SLE-15-SP3-Online-ARCH-GM-media1.iso or SLE-15-SP3-Full-ARCH-GM-media1.iso is needed), the control file needs to be accessible via flash disk (for example, a USB stick) or network:

Flash disk (for example, a USB stick).  Access the control file via the autoyast=usb://PATH option.

Network.  Access the control file via the following commands: autoyast=nfs://.., autoyast=ftp://.., autoyast=http://.., autoyast=https://.., autoyast=tftp://.., or autoyast=cifs://... Network access needs to be defined using the boot options in linuxrc. This can be done via DHCP: netsetup=dhcp autoyast=

Using a custom installation media

In this case, you can include the control file directly on the installation media. When placing it in the root directory and naming it autoinst.xml, it will automatically be found and used for the installation. Otherwise use autoyast=file:///PATH to specify the path to the control file.

Using a network installation source

This option is the most important one because installations of multiple machines are usually done using SLP or NFS servers and other network services like BOOTP and DHCP. The easiest way to make the control file available is to place it in the root directory of the installation source, naming it autoinst.xml. In this case, it will automatically be found and used for the installation. The control file can also reside in the following places:

Flash disk (for example, a USB stick).  Access the control file via the autoyast=usb://PATH option.

Network.  Access the control file via the following commands: autoyast=nfs://.., autoyast=ftp://.., autoyast=http://.., autoyast=https://.., autoyast=tftp://.., or autoyast=cifs://...

Note: Disabling network and DHCP

To disable the network during installations where it is not needed or unavailable, for example when auto-installing from DVD-ROMs, use the linuxrc option netsetup=0 to disable the network setup.

With all AutoYaST invocation options it is possible to specify the location of the control file in the following ways:

  1. Specify the exact location of the control file:

  2. Specify a directory where several control files are located:


    In this case the relevant control file is retrieved using the hex digit representation of the IP as described below.

    The path of this directory needs to end with a /.

    The files in the directory must not have any extension, for example .xml. So the file name needs to be the IP or MAC address only.

    > ls -r control-files
    C00002 0080C8F6484C default

If only the path prefix variable is defined, YaST will fetch the control file from the specified location in the following way:

  1. First, it will search for the control file using its own IP address in uppercase hexadecimal, for example -> C000025B.

  2. If this file is not found, YaST will remove one hex digit and try again. This action is repeated until the file with the correct name is found. Ultimately, it will try looking for a file with the MAC address of the client as the file name (mac should have the following syntax: 0080C8F6484C) and if not found a file named default (in lowercase).

As an example, for, the HTTP client will try:


in that order.

To determine the hex representation of the IP address of the client, use the utility called /usr/bin/gethostip available with the syslinux package.

Example 9.1: Determine HEX code for an IP address
> /usr/bin/gethostip 0A0A0001

9.3.2 Auto-installing a single system

The easiest way to auto-install a system without any network connection is to use the original SUSE Linux Enterprise Server DVD-ROMs and a flash disk (for example, a USB stick). You do not need to set up an installation server nor the network environment.

Create the control file and name it autoinst.xml. Copy the file autoinst.xml to the flash disk.

9.3.3 Combining the linuxrc info file with the AutoYaST control file

If you choose to pass information to linuxrc using the info file or as boot options, you may integrate the keywords into the AutoYaST control file. Add an info_file section as shown in the example below. This section contains keyword—value pairs, separated by colons, one pair per line.

Example 9.2: linuxrc Options in the AutoYaST control file

install: nfs://
dud: https://example.com/driver_updates/filename.dud
upgrade: 1
textmode: 1

Note that the autoyast2 keyword must point to the same file. If it is on a flash disk (for example, a USB stick), then the option usb:// needs to be used. If the info file is stored in the initial RAM disk, the file:/// option needs to be used.

9.4 System configuration

The system configuration during auto-installation is the most important part of the whole process. As you have seen in the previous chapters, almost anything can be configured automatically on the target system. In addition to the pre-defined directives, you can always use post-scripts to change other things in the system. Additionally you can change any system variables, and if required, copy complete configuration files into the target system.

9.4.1 Post-install and system configuration

The post-installation and system configuration are initiated directly after the last package is installed on the target system and continue after the system has booted for the first time.

Before the system is booted for the first time, AutoYaST writes all data collected during installation and writes the boot loader in the specified location. In addition to these regular tasks, AutoYaST executes the chroot-scripts as specified in the control file. Note that these scripts are executed while the system is not yet mounted.

If a different kernel than the default is installed, a hard reboot will be required. A hard reboot can also be forced during auto-installation, independent of the installed kernel. Use the reboot property of the general resource (see Section 4.1, “General options”).

9.4.2 System customization

Most of the system customization is done in the second stage of the installation. If you require customization that cannot be done using AutoYaST resources, use post-install scripts for further modifications.

You can define an unlimited number of custom scripts in the control file, either by editing the control file or by using the configuration system.