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Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP4

2 Installation on x86, AMD64, Intel 64, and Itanium

This chapter describes the steps necessary to prepare for the installation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on x86, AMD64, Intel 64, and Itanium computers. It introduces the steps required to prepare for various installation methods. The list of hardware requirements provides an overview of supported systems supported by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Find information about available installation methods and several common known problems. Also learn how to control the installation, provide installation media, and boot with regular methods.

2.1 Required Background

To keep the scope of these guidelines manageable, certain technical assumptions have been made:

  • You have some computer experience and are familiar with common technical terms.

  • You are familiar with the documentation for your system and the network on which it runs.

  • You have a basic understanding of Linux systems.

For an overview of the documentation available for your product and the latest documentation updates, refer to http://www.suse.com/doc.

2.2 System Requirements for Operating Linux

The SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server operating system can be deployed on a wide range of hardware. It is impossible to list all the different combinations of hardware SUSE Linux Enterprise Server supports. However, to provide you with a guide to help you during the planning phase, the minimum requirements are presented here.

If you want to be sure that a given computer configuration will work, find out which platforms have been certified by SUSE. Find a list at http://developer.novell.com/yessearch/Search.jsp.

2.2.1 Hardware for x86

Computers based on x86 constitute a cost-effective way of building high-performance systems. The preconditions for operating SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on this platform are as follows:


The number of CPUs supported depends on the kernel used. Specifically, these are as follows:

Table 2.1: CPUs Supported by the Kernel


Oldest CPU Type

Maximum Number of CPUs


PentiumPro, Athlon



Pentium II, Athlon XP


Memory Requirements

A minimum of 512 MB is required. The recommended memory is 1 GB. For a multiprocessor system, 256 MB per processor is required. Systems with less than 1 GB main memory need additional swap space that extends the virtual memory to 1 GB.

Hard Disk Requirements

The disk requirements depend largely on the installation. Commonly, you need more space than the installation software itself needs to have a system that works properly. Minimal requirements for different selections are:


Hard Disk Requirements

Minimal X Window System

1.2 GB

GNOME Desktop

3.2 GB

KDE Desktop

2.7 GB

All patterns

10 GB

Boot Methods

The computer can be booted for installation from DVD, USB hard drive, or the network. A special boot server is required to boot over the network. This boot server can be configured with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. To use USB hard drives, the BIOS or firmware must support booting from USB devices. Create a bootable USB hard drive as described in Table 6.1, “Boot Options”.

2.2.2 Hardware for Itanium

The Itanium architecture is 64-bit and allows the operation of large servers.


II (older Itanium CPUs are no longer supported). Dual core CPUs and hyperthreading are also supported.

Maximum Number of CPUs

At most, 4096 CPUs are supported. For the calculation of the CPU count, a dual-core CPU counts as two CPUs and a hyperthreaded CPU with two siblings also counts as two CPUs. 1024 CPUs could mean 512 dual cores, 512 single cores with hyperthreading, or 256 dual cores with hyperthreading.


A minimum of 1GB RAM per CPU socket is recommended.

Hard Disk Requirements

The disk requirements depend largely on the installation selected. Commonly, you need more space than the installed software itself needs to have a system that works properly. Minimal requirements for different selections are:


Hard Disk Requirements

Minimal System

4 GB


10 GB

Boot Methods

Options for booting the computer depend on the available hardware. All boot methods available to the machine should work. A special boot server is required to use PXE boot over the network. This may also be set up with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

2.2.3 Hardware for AMD64 and Intel 64

The AMD64 and Intel 64 architectures support the simple migration of x86 software to 64 bits. Like the x86 architecture, they constitute a value-for-money alternative.


All CPUs available on the market to date are supported. This includes dual-core CPUs.

Maximum Number of CPUs

The maximum number of CPUs supported by AMD64 and Intel 64 is 4096.

Memory Requirements

A minimum of 512 MB of memory is required. Requirements depend on the application. However, the minimum recommended is 1024 MB or 512 MB per CPU on multiprocessor computers. The theoretical upper limit on the amount of memory supported by the kernel is 512 GB.

Hard Disk Requirements

The disk requirements depend largely on the installation selected. The required space for this architecture is similar to x86 but you should allocate some space for compatibility libraries. Minimum requirements for different selections are:


Hard Disk Requirements

Minimal X Window System

1.4 GB

GNOME Desktop

3.5 GB

KDE Desktop

3 GB

All patterns

8.5 GB

Boot Methods

The computer can be booted from a CD or a network. A special boot server is required to boot over the network. This can be set up with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

2.2.4 Supported Virtualization Hosts

The i586 and x86_64 version of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server can also be installed as VM Guests on various virtualization hosts. The following host operating systems and virtualization platforms are supported:

  • KVM on SLES 11 SP2+

  • XEN on SLES 10 SP4 / 11 SP1+

  • Citrix XenServer 6.0 / 6.1

  • Microsoft Windows 2008 SP2+ / 2008 R2+ / 2012+

  • Oracle VM 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.2

  • VMware ESX 5.1 / ESXi 5.1 / ESX 5.2 / ESXi 5.2

2.3 Installation Considerations

This section encompasses many factors that need to be considered before installing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on x86, AMD64, Intel 64, and Itanium hardware.

2.3.1 Installation Type

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is normally installed as an independent operating system. With the introduction of Xen, it is also possible to run multiple instances of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on the same hardware. However, the controlling Domain-0 installation for Xen is performed like a typical installation with some additional packages. The installation of Xen guests is described in Chapter 3, Setting Up Virtual Machines.

2.3.2 Boot Methods

Depending on the hardware used, the following boot methods are available for the first boot procedure (prior to the installation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server).

Table 2.2: Boot Options

Boot Option


CD or DVD drive

The simplest booting method. The system requires a locally-available CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive for this.

Floppy or USB disks

Find the images required for creating boot disks on the first CD or DVD in the /boot directory. See also the README in the same directory. Booting from a USB memory stick is only possible if the BIOS of the machine supports this method.

PXE or bootp

Must be supported by the BIOS or by the firmware of the system used. This option requires a boot server in the network. This task can be handled by a separate SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Hard disk

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server can also be booted from hard disk. For this, copy the kernel (linux) and the installation system (initrd) from the /boot/loader directory of the first CD or DVD onto the hard disk and add an appropriate entry to the boot loader.

2.3.3 Installation Source

When installing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, the actual installation data must be available in the network, on a hard disk partition, or on a local DVD. To install from the network, you need an installation server. To make the installation data available, set up any computer in a Unix or Linux environment as an NFS, HTTP, SMB, or FTP server. To make the installation data available from a Windows computer, release the data with SMB.

The installation source is particularly easy to select if you configure an SLP server in the local network. For more information, see Section 14.2, “Setting Up the Server Holding the Installation Sources”.

2.3.4 Installation Target

Most installations are to a local hard disk. Therefore, it is necessary for the hard disk controllers to be available to the installation system. If a special controller (like a RAID controller) needs an extra kernel module, provide a kernel module update disk to the installation system.

Other installation targets may be various types of block devices that provide sufficient disk space and speed to run an operating system. This includes network block devices like iSCSI or SAN. It is also possible to install on network file systems that offer the standard Unix permissions. However, it may be problematic to boot these, because they must be supported by the initramfs before the actual system can start. Such installations are useful if there is a need to start the same system in different locations or if you intend to use Xen features like domain migration.

2.3.5 Different Installation Methods

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server offers several different methods for controlling installation:

  • Installation on the console

  • Installation via serial console

  • Installation with AutoYaST

  • Installation with KIWI images

  • Installation via SSH

  • Installation with VNC

By default, the graphical console is used. If you have a large number of similar computers to install, it is advisable to create an AutoYaST configuration file or a KIWI preload image and make this available to the installation process. See also the documentation for autoyast2 in Chapter 21, Automated Installation and KIWI in Chapter 17, KIWI.

2.4 Boot and Installation Media

When installing the system, the media for booting and for installing the system may be different. All combinations of supported media for booting and installing may be used.

2.4.1 Boot Media

Booting a computer depends on the capabilities of the hardware used and the availability of media for the respective boot option.

Booting from DVD

This is the most common possibility of booting a system. It is straightforward for most computer users, but requires a lot of interaction for every installation process.

Booting from a USB Hard Drive

Depending on the hardware used, it is possible to boot from a USB hard drive. The respective media must be created as described in Table 6.1, “Boot Options”.

Booting from the Network

You can only boot a computer directly from the network if this is supported by the computer's firmware or BIOS. This booting method requires a boot server that provides the needed boot images over the network. The exact protocol depends on your hardware. Commonly you need several services, such as TFTP and DHCP or pxeboot. If you need a boot server, also read Section 14.1.3, “Remote Installation via VNC—PXE Boot and Wake on LAN”.

2.4.2 Installation Media

The installation media contain all the necessary packages and meta information that is necessary to install a SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. These must be available to the installation system after booting for installation. Several possibilities for providing the installation media to the system are available with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Installation from DVD

All necessary data is delivered on the boot media. Depending on the selected installation, a network connection or add on media may be necessary.

Networked Installation

If you plan to install several systems, providing the installation media over the network makes things a lot easier. It is possible to install from many common protocols, such as NFS, HTTP, FTP, or SMB. For more information on how to run such an installation, refer to Chapter 14, Remote Installation.

2.5 Installation Procedure

This section offers an overview of the steps required for the complete installation of SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server in the required mode. Part II, “Manual Deployment” contains a full description of how to install and configure the system with YaST.

2.5.1 Booting from a Local Interchangeable Drive

CD-ROM and floppy drives and USB memory sticks can be used for installation purposes. Adjust your computer to your needs:

  1. Make sure that the drive is entered as a bootable drive in the BIOS.

  2. Insert the boot medium in the drive and start the boot procedure.

  3. The boot menu of the CD, DVD, floppy, or USB disk allows transferring different parameters to the installation system. See also Section 14.4.2, “Using Custom Boot Options”. If the installation should be performed over the network, specify the installation source here.

  4. If unexpected problems arise during installation, use safe settings to boot.

2.5.2 Installing over the Network

An installation server is required to perform the installation by using a network source. The procedure for installing this server is outlined in Section 14.2, “Setting Up the Server Holding the Installation Sources”.

If you have an SLP server, select SLP as the installation source in the first boot screen. During the boot procedure, select which of the available installation sources to use.

If the DVD is available on the network, use it as an installation source. In this case, specify the parameter install=<URL> with suitable values at the boot prompt. Find a more detailed description of this parameter in Section 14.4.2, “Using Custom Boot Options”.

2.6 Controlling the Installation

Control the installation in one of several ways. The method most frequently used is to install SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server from the computer console. Other options are available for different situations. Find more information about the available installation methods in Chapter 5, Deployment Strategies.

2.6.1 Installation on the Computer Console

The simplest way to install SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is using the computer console. With this method, a graphical installation program guides you through the installation. This installation method is discussed in detail in Chapter 6, Installation with YaST.

You can still perform the installation on the console without a working graphics mode. The text-based installation program offers the same functionality as the graphical version. Find some hints about navigation in this mode in Section 3.1, “Navigation in Modules”.

2.6.2 Installation Using a Serial Console

For this installation method, you need a second computer that is connected by a null modem cable to the computer on which to install SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Depending on the hardware, even the firmware or BIOS of the computer may already be accessible to the serial console. If this is possible, you can carry out the entire installation using this method. To activate the serial console installation, additionally specify the parameter console=ttyS0 at the boot prompt after the boot process has completed and before the installation system starts.

On most computers, there are two serial interfaces, ttyS0 and ttyS1. For the installation, you need a terminal program like minicom or screen. To initiate the serial connection, launch the screen program in a local console by entering the following command:

screen /dev/ttyS0 9600

This means that screen listens to the first serial port with a baud rate of 9600. From this point on, the installation proceeds similarly to the text-based installation over this terminal.

2.6.3 Installation with SSH

If you do not have direct access to the computer hardware and, for example, the installation should be launched from a management console, control the entire installation process over the network. To do this, enter the parameters UseSSH=1 and SSHPassword=<secret> at the boot prompt. An SSH daemon is then launched in the system and you can log in to the system as user root with the password secret. To connect, use the command ssh -X root@<ipaddr>.

If you do not have a DHCP server available in your local network, manually assign an IP address to the installation system. Do this by entering the option HostIP=<ipaddr> at the boot prompt.

As soon as you are logged in to the installation system, launch the actual installation with the command yast. The installation will start in the graphical mode if DISPLAY is set. This then guides you through the installation. This procedure is described in detail in Section 14.1.5, “Simple Remote Installation via SSH—Dynamic Network Configuration”.

2.6.4 Installation over VNC

If you do not have direct access to the system, but want a graphical installation, install SUSE Linux Enterprise Server over VNC. This method is described in detail in Section 14.5.1, “VNC Installation”.

As suitable VNC clients are also available for other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows and MacOS, the installation can also be controlled from computers running those operating systems.

2.6.5 Installation with AutoYaST

If you need to install SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on a number of computers with similar hardware, it is recommended you perform the installations with the aid of AutoYaST. In this case, start by installing one SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and use this to create the necessary AutoYaST configuration files.

AutoYaST is extensively documented in Chapter 21, Automated Installation.

2.7 Dealing with Boot and Installation Problems

Prior to delivery, SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server is subjected to an extensive test program. Despite this, problems occasionally occur during boot or installation.

2.7.1 Problems Booting

Boot problems may prevent the YaST installer from starting on your system. Another symptom is when your system does not boot after the installation has been completed.

Installed System Boots, Not Media

Change your computer's firmware or BIOS so that the boot sequence is correct. To do this, consult the manual for your hardware.

The Computer Hangs

Change the console on your computer so that the kernel outputs are visible. Be sure to check the last outputs. This is normally done by pressing CtrlAltF10. If you are unable to resolve the problem, consult the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server support staff. To log all system messages at boot time, use a serial connection as described in Section 2.6, “Controlling the Installation”.

The Itanium Boot Loader

If you have manually altered the kernel or initrd on your system, run /sbin/elilo before shutting down the computer. If you leave out this step, your system may not be bootable.

Boot Disk

The boot disk is a useful interim solution if you have difficulties setting the other configurations or if you want to postpone the decision regarding the final boot mechanism. A boot disk may also be a suitable solution in connection with OS/2 or Windows NT. Fore more details on creating boot disks, see Section 11.4, “Creating Boot CDs”.

Virus Warning after Installation

There are BIOS variants that check the structure of the boot sector (MBR) and erroneously display a virus warning after the installation of GRUB or LILO. Solve this problem by entering the BIOS and looking for corresponding adjustable settings. For example, switch off virus protection. You can switch this option back on again later. It is unnecessary, however, if Linux is the only operating system you use.

2.7.2 Problems Installing

If an unexpected problem occurs during installation, information is needed to determine the cause of the problem. Use the following directions to help with troubleshooting:

  • Check the outputs on the various consoles. You can switch consoles with the key combination CtrlAltFn. For example, obtain a shell in which to execute various commands by pressing CtrlAltF2.

  • Try launching the installation in failsafe mode. If the installation works without problems in this case, there is an incompatibility that causes either ACPI or APIC to fail. In some cases, a BIOS or firmware update fixes this problem.

  • Check the system messages on a console in the installation system by entering the command dmesg.

2.7.3 Redirecting the Boot Source to the Boot DVD

To facilitate the installation process and avoid accidental installations, the default setting on the installation DVD for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is that your system is booted from the first hard disk. At this point, an installed boot loader normally takes over control of the system. This means that the boot DVD can stay in the drive during an installation. To start the installation, choose one of the installation possibilities in the boot menu of the media.

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