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SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Deployment Guide
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5.1 Simple Mass Installation

IMPORTANT: Identical Hardware

This scenario assumes you are rolling out SUSE Linux Enterprise to a set of machines with exactly the same hardware configuration.

To prepare for an AutoYaST mass installation, proceed as follows:

  1. Create an AutoYaST profile that contains the installation details needed for your deployment as described in Section 5.1.1, Creating an AutoYaST Profile.

  2. Determine the source of the AutoYaST profile and the parameter to pass to the installation routines as described in Section 5.1.2, Distributing the Profile and Determining the autoyast Parameter.

  3. Determine the source of the SUSE Linux Enterprise installation data as described in Section 5.1.3, Providing the Installation Data.

  4. Determine and set up the boot scenario for autoinstallation as described in Section 5.1.4, Setting Up the Boot Scenario.

  5. Pass the command line to the installation routines by adding the parameters manually or by creating an info file as described in Section 5.1.5, Creating the info File.

  6. Start the autoinstallation process as described in Section 5.1.6, Initiating and Monitoring the Autoinstallation.

5.1.1 Creating an AutoYaST Profile

An AutoYaST profile tells AutoYaST what to install and how to configure the installed system to get a completely ready-to-use system in the end. It can be created in several different ways:

  • Clone a fresh installation from a reference machine to a set of identical machines

  • Use the AutoYaST GUI to create and modify a profile to meet your requirements

  • Use an XML editor and create a profile from scratch

To clone a fresh reference installation, proceed as follows:

  1. Perform a normal installation.

  2. After you complete the hardware configuration and read the release notes, check Create Profile For AutoYaST, if it is not yet checked by default. This creates a ready-to-use profile as /root/autoyast.xml that can be used to create clones of this particular installation.

To use the AutoYaST GUI to create a profile from an existing system configuration and modify it to your needs, proceed as follows:

  1. As root, start YaST.

  2. Select Miscellaneous Autoinstallation to start the graphical AutoYaST front-end.

  3. Select Tools Create Reference Control File to prepare AutoYaST to mirror the current system configuration into an AutoYaST profile.

  4. As well as the default resources, like boot loader, partitioning, and software selection, you can add various other aspects of your system to the profile by checking the items in the list in Create a Reference Control File.

  5. Click Create to have YaST gather all the system information and write it to a new profile.

  6. To proceed, choose one of the following:

    • If the profile is complete and matches your requirements, select File Save as and enter a filename for the profile, such as autoyast.xml.

    • Modify the reference profile by selecting the appropriate configuration aspects (such as Hardware/Printer) from the tree view to the left and clicking Configure. The respective YaST module starts but your settings are written to the AutoYaST profile instead of applied to your system. When done, select File Save as and enter a suitable name for the profile.

  7. Leave the AutoYaST module with File Exit .

Figure 5-1 Editing an AutoYaST Profile with the AutoYaST Front-End

5.1.2 Distributing the Profile and Determining the autoyast Parameter

The AutoYaST profile can be distributed in several different ways. Depending on the protocol used to distribute the profile data, different AutoYaST parameters are used to make the profile location known to the installation routines on the client. The location of the profile is passed to the installation routines by means of the boot prompt or an info file that is loaded upon boot. The following options are available:

Profile Location





Makes the installation routines look for the control file in specified path (relative to source root directory—file:///autoyast.xml if in the top directory of a CD-ROM).



Makes the installation routines look for the control file on a storage device. Only the device name is needed—/dev/sda1 is wrong, use sda1 instead.



Makes the installation routines look for the control file on a floppy in the floppy drive. This option is especially useful, if you want to boot from CD-ROM.



Has the installation routines retrieve the control file from an NFS server.



Has the installation routines retrieve the control file from an HTTP server.



Has the installation routines retrieve the control file from an HTTPS server.



Has the installation routines retrieve the control file from a TFTP server.



Has the installation routines retrieve the control file from an FTP server.

Replace the server and path placeholders with values matching your actual setup.

AutoYaST includes a feature that allows binding certain profiles to the client's MAC address. Without having to alter the autoyast= parameter, you can have the same setup install several different instances using different profiles.

To use this, proceed as follows:

  1. Create separate profiles with the MAC address of the client as the filename and put them on the HTTP server that holds your AutoYaST profiles.

  2. Omit the exact path including the filename when creating the autoyast= parameter, for example:

  3. Start the autoinstallation.

YaST tries to determine the location of the profile in the following way:

  1. YaST searches for the profile using its own IP address in uppercase hexadecimal, for example, is C000025B.

  2. If this file is not found, YaST removes one hex digit and tries again. This action is repeated eight times until the file with the correct name is found.

  3. If that still fails, it tries looking for a file with the MAC address of the clients as the filename. The MAC address of the example client is 0080C8F6484C.

  4. If the MAC address–named file cannot be found, YaST searches for a file named default (in lowercase). An example sequence of addresses where YaST searches for the AutoYaST profile looks as follows:


5.1.3 Providing the Installation Data

The installation data can be provided by means of the product CDs or DVDs or using a network installation source. If the product CDs are used as the installation source, physical access to the client to install is needed, because the boot process needs to be initiated manually and the CDs need to be changed.

To provide the installation sources over the network, set up a network installation server (HTTP, NFS, FTP) as described in Section 4.2.1, Setting Up an Installation Server Using YaST. Use an info file to pass the server's location to the installation routines.

5.1.4 Setting Up the Boot Scenario

The client can be booted in several different ways:

Network Boot

As for a normal remote installation, autoinstallation can be initiated with Wake on LAN and PXE, the boot image and control file can be pulled in via TFTP, and the installation sources from any network installation server.

Bootable CD-ROM

You can use the original SUSE Linux Enterprise media to boot the system for autoinstallation and pull in the control file from a network location or a floppy. Alternatively, create your own custom CD-ROM holding both the installation sources and the AutoYaST profile.

The following sections provide a basic outline of the procedures for network boot or boot from CD-ROM.

Preparing for Network Boot

Network booting with Wake on LAN, PXE, and TFTP is discussed in Section 4.1.3, Remote Installation via VNC—PXE Boot and Wake on LAN. To make the setup introduced there work for autoinstallation, modify the featured PXE Linux configuration file (/srv/tftp/pxelinux.cfg/default) to contain the autoyast parameter pointing to the location of the AutoYaST profile. An example entry for a standard installation looks like this:

default linux 

# default label linux 
    kernel linux append initrd=initrd ramdisk_size=65536 insmod=e100 \

The same example for autoinstallation looks like this:

default linux 

# default label linux 
    kernel linux append initrd=initrd ramdisk_size=65536 insmod=e100 \
    install= \

Replace the example IP addresses and paths with the data used in your setup.

Preparing to Boot from CD-ROM

There are several ways in which booting from CD-ROM can come into play in AutoYaST installations. Choose from the following scenarios:

Boot from SUSE Linux Enterprise Media, Get the Profile over the Network

Use this approach if a totally network-based scenario is not possible (for example, if your hardware does not support PXE) and you have physical access to system to install during most of the process.

You need:

Boot and Install from SUSE Linux Enterprise Media, Get the Profile from a Floppy

Use this approach if an entirely network-based installation scenario would not work. It requires physical access to the system to install for turning on the target machine, or, in the second case, to enter the profile's location at the boot prompt. In both cases, you may also need to change media depending on the scope of installation.

You need:

  • The SUSE Linux Enterprise media

  • A floppy holding both the profile and the info file


    Access to the boot prompt of the target to enter the autoyast= parameter

Boot and Install from Custom Media, Get the Profile from the Media

If you just need to install a limited number of software packages and the number of targets is relatively low, creating your own custom CD holding both the installation data and the profile itself might prove a good idea, especially if no network is available in your setup.

5.1.5 Creating the info File

The installation routines at the target need to be made aware of all the different components of the AutoYaST framework. This is done by creating a command line containing all the parameters needed to locate the AutoYaST components, installation sources, and the parameters needed to control the installation process.

Do this by manually passing these parameters at the boot prompt of the installation or by providing a file called info that is read by the installation routines (linuxrc). The former requires physical access to any client to install, which makes this approach unsuitable for large deployments. The latter enables you to provide the info file on some media that is prepared and inserted into the clients' drives prior to the autoinstallation. Alternatively, use PXE boot and include the linuxrc parameters in the pxelinux.cfg/default file as shown in Preparing for Network Boot.

The following parameters are commonly used for linuxrc. For more information, refer to the AutoYaST package documentation under /usr/share/doc/packages/autoyast.

IMPORTANT: Separating Parameters and Values

When passing parameters to linuxrc at the boot prompt, use = to separate parameter and value. When using an info file, separate parameter and value with :.




The network device to use for network setup (for BOOTP/DHCP requests). Only needed if several network devices are available.


When empty, the client sends a BOOTP request. Otherwise the client is configured using the specified data.






Name server.


Location of the the control file to use for the automatic installation, such as autoyast=


Location of the installation source, such as install=nfs://


If set to 1, enables VNC remote controlled installation.


The password for VNC.


If set to 1, enables SSH remote controlled installation.

If your autoinstallation scenario involves client configuration via DCHP and a network installation source and you want to monitor the installation process using VNC, your info would look like this:

autoyast:profile_source install:install_source vnc:1 vncpassword:some_password

If you prefer a static network setup at installation time, your info file would look like the following:

autoyast:profile_source \
install:install_source \ 
hostip:some_ip \ 
netmask:some_netmask \ 

The \ indicate that the line breaks have only been added for the sake of readability. All options must be entered as one continuous string.

The info data can be made available to linuxrc in various different ways:

  • As a file in the root directory of a floppy that is in the client's floppy drive at installation time.

  • As a file in the root directory of the initial RAM disk used for booting the system provided either from custom installation media or via PXE boot.

  • As part of the AutoYaST profile. In this case, the AutoYaST file needs to be called info to enable linuxrc to parse it. An example for this approach is given below.

linuxrc looks for a string (start_linuxrc_conf) in the profile that represents the beginning of the file. If it is found, it parses the content starting from that string and finishes when the string end_linuxrc_conf is found. The options are stored in the profile as follows:

# Don't remove the following line:
# start_linuxrc_conf
install: nfs:server/path
vnc: 1
vncpassword: test
autoyast: file:///info

# end_linuxrc_conf
# Do not remove the above comment


linuxrc loads the profile containing the boot parameters instead of the traditional info file. The install: parameter points to the location of the installation sources. vnc and vncpassword indicate the use of VNC for installation monitoring. The autoyast parameter tells linuxrc to treat info as an AutoYaST profile.

5.1.6 Initiating and Monitoring the Autoinstallation

After you have provided all the infrastructure mentioned above (profile, installation source, and info file), you can go ahead and start the autoinstallation. Depending on the scenario chosen for booting and monitoring the process, physical interaction with the client may be needed:

  • If the client system boots from any kind of physical media, either product media or custom CDs, you need to insert these into the client's drives.

  • If the client is not switched on via Wake on LAN, you need to at least switch on the client machine.

  • If you have not opted for remote controlled autoinstallation, the graphical feedback from AutoYaST is sent to the client's attached monitor or, if you use a headless client, to a serial console.

To enable remote controlled autoinstallation, use the VNC or SSH parameters described in Section 5.1.5, Creating the info File and connect to the client from another machine as described in Section 4.5, Monitoring the Installation Process.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop Deployment Guide
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