How to create an activation key for automated registration of Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems to Red Hat Satellite 5?

Solution Verified - Updated -


  • Red Hat Satellite 5
  • Management & Provisioning Entitlement

Note: A management & provisioning entitlement is required for any system that uses an activation key to register to Satellite 5. If there is no active management entitlement in the account, the Activation Keys option will not be visible under the Systems tab.


  • How to use the activation key feature to make it easier to register Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems to Red Hat Satellite 5 during automated system installation.
  • How to subscribe system to configuration channel at the time of registration ?
  • How to create an activation key for automated registration of Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems to Red Hat Satellite 5?
  • How to create an Activation key ?



Following the Red Hat Network (RHN) UI shutdown in July 2017, Red Hat is blocking new systems from registering to RHN Classic Hosted beginning Oct. 31, 2017. Please refer to Red Hat Subscription Management Migration FAQ and Red Hat Subscription Management - Migrating to RHSM for more information.

  • Creating an activation key is simple, and it allows you to securely register systems to Red Hat Satellite 5 via the command line.  Most commonly, this is used as part of remote kickstart installations in the %post install section.
  1. Log in to the Satellite 5 server's Web UI as a Satellite Admininistrator or Organization Administrator.

  2. 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 "Monitoring" depending on the needs of this system

  6. Set Universal Default if applicable. 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.

  7. Activation key can be used to have required child channels,configuration channels,install packages and add system to required group. These all things are configurable from respective tab of activation key.

  8. 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 key 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. To do this, copy and paste the key's ID (e.g. 1-328d86a62d1b7cfd750b99f02be7fe85) from the web interface and then pass it to the rhnreg_ks command (e.g. rhnreg_ks --activationkey 1-328d86a62d1b7cfd750b99f02be7fe85).

For more information on using activation keys with Red Hat Satellite 5, please refer to Satellite 5 documentation.

If you encounter "Error Code 91" when trying to register a system via RHN Classic tooling 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 5 will show username who created activation key on Satellite 5.

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This completely does not work.

Sorry you didn't have any luck with this solution. I encourage you to open a support case for the issue, or contact customer service.

I think @Contegix Support's problem is that there is no "Activation Keys" option under Registered Systems, even if you are logged in as an administrator. I am one and I can't see that option.

Yes - If there is no active management entitlement available in the account, the Activation Keys option/tab will not be visible under the Registered Systems.

This does not work for me, either -- even though I am our organization administrator.

This still fails. No Activation Keys available.

Under "RHN Classic Management", it now says, "Red Hat is transitioning to Red Hat Subscription Management (RHSM) for all Red Hat products by July 31st, 2017. Learn more about transitioning from RHN."

How do I do this now?

Where is the key id? It's simply not there!

This is specific to Satellite 5.x not Satellite 6.1 and does not work.

Activation Keys for Satellite 6 are covered in the User Guide, and they function quite similarly to how they did in Satellite 5.

Satellite 5's activation keys allowed you to:

  1. Join an arbitrarily defined group (A system group)
  2. Enable specific content (by setting a Systems base/child channels to either a Red Hat channel or a Custom/Cloned Channel)
  3. Add additional entitlements (Monitoring/Provisioning/Virt/Virt Platform)

Satellite 6's activation keys allow you to do similar:

  • Join an arbitrarily defined group (A Host collection)
  • Enable specific content, by setting a hosts Content View, Lifecycle Environment and/or Product Content (which repos are enabled by default)
  • Add additional subscriptions

Additionally, like in Satellite 5, an activation key needs to be associated with a provisioning artifact to ensure that it is used at the end of provisioning to get the system registered to Satellite. In Satellite 5, this was a property of the kickstart itself. In Satellite 6, this is a property of the Host Group.

Lastly, the behavior of activation keys has changed in Satellite 6.1 to be a bit more flexible. Read Activation Key Enhancements with Red Hat Satellite 6.1 to understand more.

Hopefully this clears this up for you.