Chapter 2. Kickstart installation basics

The following provides basic information about Kickstart and how to use it to automate installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

2.1. What are Kickstart installations

Kickstart provides a way to automate the RHEL installation process, either partially or fully.

Kickstart files contain some or all of the RHEL installation options. For example, the time zone, how the drives should be partitioned, or which packages should be installed. Providing a prepared Kickstart file allows an installation without the need for any user intervention. This is especially useful when deploying Red Hat Enterprise Linux on a large number of systems at once.

Kickstart files also provide more options regarding software selection. When installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux manually using the graphical installation interface, the software selection is limited to pre-defined environments and add-ons. A Kickstart file allows you to install or remove individual packages as well.

Kickstart files can be kept on a single server system and read by individual computers during the installation. This installation method supports the use of a single Kickstart file to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux on multiple machines, making it ideal for network and system administrators.

All Kickstart scripts and log files of their execution are stored in the /tmp directory of the newly installed system to assist with debugging installation issues.

Note

In previous versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Kickstart could be used for upgrading systems. Starting with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, this functionality has been removed and system upgrades are instead handled by specialized tools. For details on upgrading to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, see Upgrading to RHEL 8 and Considerations in adopting RHEL 8.

2.2. Automated installation workflow

Kickstart installations can be performed using a local DVD, a local hard drive, or a NFS, FTP, HTTP, or HTTPS server. This section provides a high level overview of Kickstart usage.

  1. Create a Kickstart file. You can write it by hand, copy a Kickstart file saved after a manual installation, or use an online generator tool to create the file, and edit it afterward. See Chapter 3, Creating Kickstart files.
  2. Make the Kickstart file available to the installation program on removable media, a hard drive or a network location using an HTTP(S), FTP, or NFS server. See Chapter 4, Making Kickstart files available to the installation program.
  3. Create the boot medium which will be used to begin the installation. See Creating installation media and Chapter 12, Preparing to install from the network using PXE.
  4. Make the installation source available to the installation program. See Chapter 5, Creating installation sources for Kickstart installations.
  5. Start the installation using the boot medium and the Kickstart file. See Chapter 6, Starting Kickstart installations.

If the Kickstart file contains all mandatory commands and sections, the installation finishes automatically. If one or more of these mandatory parts are missing, or if an error occurs, the installation requires manual intervention to finish.