Autoinstallable Distributions

The autoinstallation process relies on an several files to initiate the installation. These files include the Linux kernel, an initial RAM disk, and other files required to boot the operating system in installation mode.

SUSE Manager uses the mgradm tool to copy the installation file from the source to the server container.

You can extract the needed files from a DVD image. For information, see Distribution Based on an ISO Image.

Alternatively, you can install the tftpboot-installation package. For information, see Distribution Based on a RPM Package.

You must also have a base channel synchronized on your SUSE Manager Server for the same operating system version as those files.

When you have the files ready, and the base channel synchronized, you need to declare the distribution. This operation associates the installation files to the base channel. The distribution can be referred to by one or more installation profiles. For information, see Declare an Autoinstallable Distribution.

1. Distribution Based on an ISO Image

This method assumes you have installation media for the operating system you want to install on the clients. This is usually a DVD .iso image that contains the Linux kernel, an initrd file, and other files required to boot the operating system in installation mode.

Procedure: Importing Files from Installation Media
  1. Use mgradm to import installation data from the ISO image:

    # mgradm distribution copy <image_name>.iso <image_name>
  2. Take a note of the distribution path reported by mgradm. You will need it when you declare the distribution to SUSE Manager.

1.1. Distribution autodetection and registration

mgradm is able to automatically detect distribution name and register it to the server. Provided ISO image needs to contain a .treeinfo file.

Procedure: Import distribution file with autodetection and registration
  1. Use mgradm:

    # mgradm distribution copy --api-user <username> --api-password <password> <image_name>.iso

2. Distribution Based on a RPM Package

This method works on SUSE systems. It is simpler than importing contents from an installation media, because it uses prepackaged files for your installation system.

Procedure: Extracting Files from an Installation Package
  1. On the SUSE Manager Server, install the package whose name starts with tftpboot-installation. You can determine its exact name with the command zypper se tftpboot-installation

  2. You can install the package to different root to avoid need for restart using following command:

    # mkdir /opt/tftpinstall
    # zypper --installroot /opt/tftpinstall install tftpboot-installation-SLE-Micro-5.5-x86_64
  3. Find the installation files with the command ls -d /opt/tftpinstall/usr/share/tftpboot-installation/*.

  4. Copy installation files using mgradm:

    # mgradm distribution copy /opt/tftpinstall/usr/share/tftpboot-installation/SLE-Micro-5.5-x86_64 SLE-Micro-5.5-x86_64
  5. Take a note of the distribution path reported by mgradm tool. You will need it when you declare the distribution to SUSE Manager.

  6. After mgradm tool finishes, you can remove /opt/tftpinstall directory.

This procedure prepares the installation of the same operating system version as the one that powers your SUSE Manager Server. If you want to install a different operating system or version on the client, you need to manually get the package tftpboot-installation-* from the distribution it belongs to. In the Package Search input box SUSE Manager, search the packages whose names start with tftpboot-installation, then look at the package’s details. They show the local path below /var/spacewalk/.

3. Declare an Autoinstallable Distribution

The next step after extracting the autoinstallation files is to declare an autoinstallable distribution.

Procedure: Declaring an Autoinstallable Distribution
  1. In the SUSE Manager Web UI, navigate to Systems  Autoinstallation  Distributions.

  2. Click Create Distribution, and complete these fields:

    • In the Distribution Label field, enter a name to identify your autoinstallable distribution.

    • In the Tree Path field, enter the path to the installation media saved on your SUSE Manager Server.

    • Select the matching Base Channel. This must match the installation media.

    • Select the Installer Generation. This must match the installation media.

    • OPTIONAL: Specify kernel options to use when booting this distribution. There are multiple ways to provide kernel options. Only add options here that are generic for the distribution.

  3. Click Create Autoinstallable Distribution.

The installation files that you prepared might not contain the packages you need to install. If they are not included, add useonlinerepo=1 to the Kernel Options field.

The package repositories contain metadata that can be unsigned. If the metadata is unsigned, add insecure=1 to the Kernel Options field, or use your own GPG key as explained in Use Your Own GPG Key.

These kernel options are needed for example when you use the "online installer" ISO images instead of the full DVD, or when you use the tpboot-installation package.

Navigate to Systems  Autoinstallation  Distributions to manage your autoinstallable distributions.

You can autoinstall SUSE Manager Proxy 4.3 in the same way as SUSE Linux Enterprise clients. Make sure you use the SUSE Linux Enterprise installation media, and choose the SLE-Product-SUSE-Manager-Proxy-4.3-Pool for x86_64 base channel.