A Kickstart Server is a small server (maybe 40GB hard disk and 128MB RAM) that runs the Apache web server and stores de-compressed images of installation media for the Red Hat/Centos/Scientific Linux ( ) distros. It also stores network-accessible Kickstart configuration scripts that allow those distros to be installed, over the network, with minimal or zero user intervention.A Kickstart Server thereby allows you to build multiple new Enterprise-class Linux servers in a ‘cookie-cutter’ fashion, quickly and consistently. It is therefore a key part of building a ‘standard operating environment’ in which to run Enterprise-class software, such as Oracle.
In this article, I’ll explain how to build your own Kickstart server and populate it with suitable distro media and Kickstart configuration scripts.
The hardware requirements for an effective Kickstart Server are pretty minimal:
- Single CPU
- 32-bit minimal . operating system
- 40GB of hard disk space (or more, if you want multiple versions of multiple distros served)
- 512MB RAM
A Kickstart server doesn’t do much except transfer files over a network, so it doesn’t need to be a major piece of kit. It does need to run its own operating system, of course, and if that’s going to be andistro, it only needs to be a 32-bit one. A known bug in the installer, however, means that you have to install that O/S in at least 512MB RAM (any less and the installer either just comes to an unexplained halt or tells you explicitly that you don’t have enough memory to continue). Once the O/S has been installed, though, it will run quite happily in just 128MB of RAM (though maybe 256MB is a bit more comfortable!)
These low hardware specs and variable pre/post-install memory requirements mean that building your Kickstart server as a virtual machine is an ideal way of doing it. Failing that, you can run it on just about any piece of ancient hardware you have sitting around doing nothing (my old Thinkpad, vintage 2005, has been used in this way before now!)
Building the Server
If your Kickstart server only has 512MB of RAM, theinstaller will not be able to launch the graphical O/S installer. Instead, you do everything with an ancient-looking text interface. On the whole, you just keep clicking [OK] to move things along.
Once the server has rebooted, you’ll be presented with a pretty stark login prompt. Login as the root user with the password you provided during the installation process.