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How do I create an RHN activation key for automated RHN registration of my Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems?

Updated 2014-03-20T17:25:00+00:00


  • How to use the Red Hat Network (RHN) activation key feature to make it easier to register Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems to RHN during automated system installation.


  • Red Hat Network or RHN Satellite Server
  • Management & Provisioning Entitlement

Note: A management & provisioning entitlement is required for any system that uses an activation key to register to RHN. If there is no active management entitlement in the account, the Activation Keys option will not be visible under the Systems tab.


  • Creating an RHN activation key is simple, and it allows you to securely register systems to RHN or RHN Satellite via the command line.  Most commonly, this is used as part of remote kickstart installations in the %post install section.
  1. For RHN : Log in to RHN account or Satellite server as a user with administrative privileges

    For Satellite: Log in to the Satellite's webui as a Satellite Admin or Organization Admin.

  2. For RHN: Go to Subscriptions -> Classic Management -> Registered Systems -> Activation Keys -> Create New Key

    For Satellite: Go to 'Activation Keys' in the gray box on the left side of the page. Then to 'create
    new key' in the top right of the page.

  3. Fill in the Description field with something meaningful (like "marketing," or "developer")

  4. Set the Usage Limit to enforce a maximum number of systems that can use this key

  5. Set Add-On Entitlements to "Provisioning" or "Management" depending on the needs of this system

  6. Set Universal Default. Universal Default means that this key will be used for any system registered to this account that does not specify a key. To have key as default one, set this to "yes"; set this to "no" if you want this key to be used only when specified.

At this point, you can also associate Child Channels, Groups as well as Configuration Channels (provided you have Provisioning Entitlement) with the key so that systems registered with it automatically subscribe to them.

To change information about a key, such as the channels or groups, click its description in the key list, make your modifications in the appropriate tab, and click the Update Key button. To disassociate channels and groups from a key, deselect them in their respective menus by Ctrl-clicking their highlighted names. To remove a key entirely, click the delete key link in the top-right corner of the edit page.

Once you have created your activation key, you can use it to register any Red Hat Enterprise Linux system from the command line. For details on how to register a system using an activation key, refer to: How do I use rhnreg_ks to register my Red Hat Enterprise Linux system to RHN?

If you encounter "Error Code 91" when trying to register a system to RHN using an activation key, you are most likely out of management entitlements. For more information, refer to: When registering a system to RHN I received an error stating: 'error code 91: red hat software management exhausted' what do I do?.

What is the difference among Update, Management, Provisioning, and Monitoring Entitlements in RHN?

NOTE: Once system is registered using an Activation key, any changes made to the key will be not reflected on the existing registered Client, while the modified changes will only reflected on the new clients which are registered using this key. When system is registered using activation key Registered by field of Recently Registered Systems page of Satellite will show username who created activation key on Satellite.