Chapter 30. Installing Through VNC

Many enterprise customers perform interactive installations on systems in datacenters. These systems are often, but not always, installed in a rack environment and do not have a display, keyboard, or mouse. Additionally, a lot of these systems even lack the ability to connect a graphical display. Given that enterprise hardware rarely needs that ability at the physical system, this hardware configuration is acceptable.
The Red Hat Enterprise Linux installer (anaconda) offers users two interactive modes of operation. The original mode is a text-based interface. The newer mode uses GTK+ and runs in the X Window environment. The purpose of this document is to explain how the graphical installation mode can be used in enterprise environments, even when the system lacks a proper display and input devices typically associated with a workstation.
The primary driver behind the document is to encourage use of the graphical installer, even in enterprise environments. The text mode environment lacks a lot of capabilities found in the graphical mode. Many users still feel that the text mode interface provides them with additional power or configuration ability not found in the graphical version. The opposite is true. Much less development effort is put in to the text mode environment and specific things (e.g., LVM configuration) are deliberately left out of the text mode environment. The reasons for this are:
  • Less screen real estate for creating user interfaces similar to those found in the graphical mode.
  • Difficult internationalization support.
  • Desire to maintain a single interactive installation code path.
All of these reasons and more are why you, the enterprise customer, should be making using of the Virtual Network Computing (VNC) mode offered in anaconda. VNC allows the graphical mode of the installer to run locally, but display on a system connected to the network.

30.1. VNC Viewer

Performing a VNC installation requires a VNC viewer running on your workstation or other terminal computer. Locations where you might want a VNC viewer installed:
  • Your workstation
  • Laptop on a datacenter crash cart
VNC is open source software licensed under the GNU General Public License. Versions exist for Linux, Windows, and MacOS X. Here are some recommended VNC viewers:
  • vncviewer is available on Red Hat Enterprise Linux by installing the vnc package:
    # yum install vnc
  • TightVNC is available for Windows at
  • MacOS X includes built-in VNC support as of version 10.5. In the Finder, click the Go menu and choose Connect to Server. In the server address field, you can type vnc://SERVER:DISPLAY, where SERVER is the IP address or DNS host name of the VNC server you wish to connect to and DISPLAY is the VNC display number (usually 1), and click Connect.
Once you have verified you have a VNC viewer available, it's time to start the installation.