Web-Kickstart Overview

What Does this Do?

You need access to Web-Kickstart to install supported Realm Linux machines.


Web-Kickstart is a Rapid Deployment System that generates Red Hat Kickstart files from a set of config files found in AFS. These config files are very similar to Kickstarts but they do provide for some common defaults and common setups used around campus. This config file also describes the root password and system administrator groups that will be distributed to the machine. (See Root Passwords and Admin Users.) A config file indicates that the corresponding machine is installed and configured by a trusted NCSU system administrator and is a trusted machine on the network.

Web-Kickstart has its own web page which includes documentation of the config files, examples, and instructions to boot into the installer either by PXE or a boot CD.

The Web-Kickstart configs are located here:

where group identifies the department or IT organization you work in.

To gain access create a SupportTicket and ask for access to the Web-Kickstart system. Include if you would like a new group created or would like to join an existing group. If you are not sure if a group exists for your IT organization that’s fine too. We’ll get things sorted out into the correct places.

When you’ve been given access we will let you know what AFS directory you can use for your config files. We will also create an example or two to help get you started making a config for your first machine. You will be in 2 additional PTS groups in the BP cell. They are installers:common and (normally) installers:<group>.

Writing Web-Kickstart Config Files

A common question is how to start writing Web-Kickstart config files. The first step is to identify the version of Realm Linux you wish to deploy and the matching version tag. The Web-Kickstart Website has a table on the front page that matches each version of Realm Linux with the version tag that Web-Kickstart understands. With that, you can write the simplest config file.

The above complete config file will install a default workstation setup of Realm Linux 6 64 bit Server. However, you will most likely want to use your IT organization’s passwords and administrative users as well as control who can log in remotely and locally. (See Root Passwords and Admin Users.) At the minimum Campus Linux Services recommends that you start with the following. A # starts a comment.

The default partitioning layout is given below. To replace the default partitioning you may use any of the partitioning, logical volumes, and raid keywords that you would in a normal Red Hat Kickstart. See the Red Hat Documentation for the matching RHEL version and look for the Kickstart Options section. These are also linked to from the Web-Kickstart webpage. If you make use of any of the partitioning commands specify your entire partitioning layout as the default will not apply.

Finally, some handy tricks. Use the use keyword to include other Web-Kickstartion config files rather than repeat the same content in every config file. The above suggested config to start with will probably end up exactly the same for a large number of your machines with possible variations in the versions used. Put that in a different file and include it rather that duplicate it in every file.

Another good practice is to use the base config file (the one that matches the host’s name) for all the hardware specific configuration. This is mostly partitioning. Then use an use file to pull in the software configuration. This allows you to setup multiple machines that have identical software configurations on non-identical hardware.

Use symlinks to clone machines. Web-Kickstart doesn’t care if its a file or a symlink it just reads the configuration out of the file named the fully qualified domain name of the host.

Web-Kickstart Templates

A simple server setup using Realm Linux 6.

Most departments should have a use file to include the basic information about your department that doesn’t change from machine to machine. I suggest you create a use/ directory in your Web-Kickstart directory for these include files. I name the basic departmental include the same name as the department. An example of the line to use would be

  • use¬†oit-tss/use/tss

Here’s a template for this departmental include file.