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Suse installer (YaST) is pretty flexible, but there are a lot of idiosyncrasies and to learn the ropes takes a lot of time even for experienced with other flavors of Linux/Unix sysadmin. Especially tricky is autoyast with its XMLconfiguration file and poor detection of errors.

! After selection of Installation menu item on a boot screen of GUI installation, you can press F4 and select installation Source.

We can structure installation into several (pretty arbitrary ;-) parts. That simply learning the intricacies and provides the ability to concentrate on important for each operation/part details:

  1. Configure RAID and Create Dell Service Partition
  2. Boot from SLES Installation DVD or Other Medium
    • ! After selection of Installation menu item on a boot screen of GUI installation, you can press F4 and select installation Source.
    • Normally, the installation is performed from the inserted installation medium (DVD or USB stick/disk). Here you can select FTP or NFS servers. If the installation is deployed on a network with an SLP server, select an installation source available on the server with this option. Find information about SLP in Chapter 19, SLP Services in the Network of the SLES Administration Guide
  3. Partition the Harddrives
  4. Select set of packages to be installed
  5. Configure root and Perform network configuration
  6. Reboot the system and perform post-install configuration
  7. Harden the server

There are two versions of Linux 32 bit and 64 bit. 64-bit version requires CPUs with extended instruction set (AMD64 and Intel 64 CPU). Those day servers have only 64-bit CPUs. It make sense to use 64-bit version unless software explicitly requires 32 bit version. 32-bit version actually can access more then 4GB of memory via PAE extensions. Another exception is virtual machine environment: 32-bit kernel is better for virtial guests. For example VMware allows to run paravirtualised vbersion of 32-bit Suse.

Availability of Linux for 64-bit Intel and AMD hardware platforms does not necessarily mean that all the applications included have already been ported to 64-bit platforms. Often this is not true and a lot of application even commercial one are distributed only for 32-bit mode. ^4-bit Suse contin fully functional 32 bit subsystem and can run 32 bit applications.

To be executed correctly, every application requires a range of libraries. Unfortunately, in many cases the names for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of these libraries are identical. They must be differentiated from each other by placement:

Subdirectories of 32-bit /lib directories whose data content does not depend on the word size are not moved.

The installed 32-bit and 64-bit libraries must have an API (application programming interface) that matches the installed header files. The normal Linux environment is designed according to this principle.

In the case of manually updated libraries, you need to resolve these issues yourself.

The Linux Boot Process

The Linux boot process consists of several stages each represented by another component. The following list briefly summarizes the boot process and features all the major components involved.

  1. BIOS. After the computer has been turned on, the BIOS initializes the screen and keyboard and tests the main memory. Up to this stage, the machine does not access any mass storage media. Subsequently, the information about the current date, time, and the most important peripherals are loaded from the CMOS values. When the first hard disk and its geometry are recognized, the system control passes from the BIOS to the boot loader.

  2. MBR boot Loader. The first physical 512-byte data sector of the first device defined in BIOS load chain is loaded into the main memory and the program that resides at the beginning of this sector takes over. It usually loads another loader but it can do so only if the latter is located at fixed disk addresses as no file system is present. That's why it is often referred to as Master Boot Record (MBR). The boot loader then passes control to the actual operating system, in this case, the Linux kernel at /boot partition.

  3. Kernel and initramfs. MBR loads both the kernel and an initial RAM–based file system (initramfs) into memory. initramfs is a small cpio archive. It contains a small executable that uses BIOS calls called init that handles the mounting of the real root file system. It provides a minimal Linux environment that enables the execution of programs before the actual root file system is created. This minimal Linux environment is loaded into memory by BIOS routines and does not have specific hardware requirements other than sufficient memory.

    • init on initramfs This program performs all actions needed to mount the proper root file system on the installation media, like providing kernel functionality for the needed file system and device drivers for typical mass storage controllers. After the root file system has been found, it is checked for errors and mounted. If this has been successful, the initramfs is cleaned and the init program on the root file system is executed.
    • Before the root file system can be mounted and the operating system can be started, the kernel needs the corresponding drivers to access the device on which the root file system is located. These drivers may include special drivers for certain kinds of hard drives or even network drivers to access a network file system. The needed modules for the root file system may be loaded by init on initramfs. After the modules are loaded, udev provides the initramfs with the needed devices. Later in the boot process, after changing the root file system, it is necessary to regenerate the devices. This is done by boot.udev with the command udevtrigger.

The main purpose of init on initramfs is to prepare the mounting of and access to the real root file system. Depending on your system configuration, init is responsible for the following tasks.

When init is called during the initial boot as part of the installation process, its tasks differ from those mentioned earlier:

Installation from CD/DVD

CD/DVD are default installation medium for YAST. Local CD/DVD installations are very much the same for Solaris and Linux. The installation program prompts for information when it is required. A menu of options is presented in some parts so that you can select the appropriate choice or choices. As with a Solaris installation, Linux will perform the following operations.

  1. Probe the hardware for devices and load the appropriate device drivers.
  2. Select installation type (the initial not upgrade ). This is an important step and in GUI installer After selection Installation menu item on a boot screen of GUI installation, you can press F4 and select installation Source. Normally, the installation is performed from the inserted installation medium (DVD or USB stick/disk). Here you can select FTP or NFS servers. If the installation is deployed on a network with an SLP server, select an installation source available on the server with this option. Find information about SLP in Chapter 19, SLP Services in the Network of the SLES Administration Guide
  3. Select language
  4. Accept license agreement
  5. Select a time zone.
  6. Select GUI (Gnome of KDE). Gnome typically is used with SLES.
  7. Assign a host name.
  8. Set up a network setup type (DHCP or static IP)
    1. If static IP, you will be asked to enter the IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS servers to use.
    2. You can also use DHCP.
  9. Repartition hard disk:
    • Desktop usually have 250G drive. Less if it is solid state.
    • Laptops typically have at last 80G drive. Often solid state.
  10. Prompt for a automatic or manual disk layout for the file systems. Select manual and allocate 4G for swap and 10G for root and 8G for /home partitions (if you have a separate /home partition you can upgrade system without need to restore your data)
  11. Select filesystem for partitions. You should use ext4 as your filesystem
  12. Prompt for the software bundle or packages to install. You need carefully browse and add your own choices of software packages to the default selection proposed by the installer, so click on the Change button and select Software from the menu, which brings you to the main Software Selection screen
    • suse installs vim and screen automatically
    • Add several packages that I will use in lectures:
      • vino -- VNC for Gnome
      • mc (Midnight commander, requres glib),
      • gvim
      • expect (requres TCL).
      • Wireshark
      • nmap
      • Other packages that you might be interested in.

Modern Linux usually recognizes most devices and installs without major hardware problems on standard desktop and laptop.

Note: In Solaris, the installation program will use the current console as an I/O device, and if you are using a serial interface, it will use that same serial interface. In Linux for IA32 , the default console device used for installation is the graphics card. If you need to install the system using a serial interface, you need to specifically tell the installation program to do so by adding the nofb console=ttyS0 kernel boot options.

Installing using remote display

In Solaris, you can install using the local graphic display or the serial interface. In Linux, you can install using the local graphic display, serial interface, and a few other remote modes.

In RHEL, you have the following options:

Add a display=IP_OF_REMOTE_X:0 argument to the kernel boot line for using a remote X Server for displaying the installation GUI.
Add a vnc vncpassword=MIN_6_CHAR_PASS argument to the kernel boot line for using a VNC client from another machine to connect to the installation GUI.

In SLES, you have the following options:

Add a usessh=1 sshpassword=MIN_1_CHAR_PASS argument to the kernel boot line for starting a ssh installation. If you connect with ssh -X, you can have graphical GUI.
Add a vnc=1 vncpassword=MIN_5_CHAR_PASS argument to the kernel boot line for using a vnclient from another machine to connect to the installation GUI.

Partitioning

The two minimum partitions are the root partition, signified with a forward slash (/), and a swap partition, which Linux uses as virtual memory. You also would benefit form a separate /home partitions for the reasons explained above. Traditionally, the size of the swap partition is equivalent to (or a multiple of) the amount of hardware RAM you have installed.

If you have only these two partitions, YaST will put all standard directories on the same partition as /. These are

Fun with Configuration Files

Instead of a single file linux configuration files are often spitted into chunks which are stored then into directories. The main file just assembles the chunks. As in other areas of life this quest to more flexibility actually sometimes backfire and turns into its opposite.

Some of those "hacked" files include /etc/profile (with chunks stored at /etc/profile.d), crontab (crontab.d), syslog (actually Suse uses syslog-ng instead of regular syslog), etc. RC files are structures similarly to Solaris with links to each run level.

Some of the more important system-related configuration files in this directory are

Choosing and Using a Shell

Suse uses different default shell. But it is a better interactive shell then Korn shell.

Also the default ksh in linux is broken and ksh93 should be installed. It is also more reliable for complex scripts.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Apr 19, 2012] Create an ISO from your SLES DVD and add it as an installation source from the command line Novell User Communities

Preamble:

We call repositories "services" in SUSE Linux Enterprise. These commands have been tested on a SLES 10 SP1.

1) First create a directory where you will store your ISO files.

mkdir /home/sources

2) Now create your ISO

mkisofs -J -R -iso-level 4 -o /home/sources/sles10sp1.iso /media/SLES10SP_001/

Click to view

3) Now we add the ISO as a service (installation source)

zypper sa "iso:/?iso=/home/sources/sles10sp1.iso" "SLES 10 SP1"

4) Verify that the service has been successfully added

zypper sl

5) Now we can delete the DVD as a service

zypper sd 1

6) Finally we now test the ISO as a service and install a package like nmap

zypper in -y nmap

[Jul 22, 2011] linuxman - SLES 10 installation notes

Some miscellaneous tweaks that might be desired:
  • Disable splash screen (mainly for servers which have no X) - /etc/sysconfig/bootsplash:
SPLASH="no"
  • Enable clearing out of /tmp and /var/tmp - /etc/sysconfig/cron:
MAX_DAYS_IN_TMP="30"
MAX_DAYS_IN_LONG_TMP="90"
LONG_TMP_DIRS_TO_CLEAR="/var/tmp"
OWNER_TO_KEEP_IN_TMP=""
DAILY_TIME="HH:MM"   # where HH:MM is the desired time to run cron.daily jobs
CLEAR_TMP_DIRS_AT_BOOTUP="yes"
SEND_MAIL_ON_NO_ERROR="yes"    # if you have jobs from which you wish to see output
SYSLOG_ON_NO_ERROR="yes"
  • Enable chrooted postfix - /etc/sysconfig/postfix:
POSTFIX_CHROOT="yes"
POSTFIX_UPDATE_CHROOT_JAIL="yes"
  • Enable tighter permissions of common programs - /etc/sysconfig/security:
PERMISSION_SECURITY="secure local"
  • Enable snort - /etc/sysconfig/snort:
SNORT_ACTIVATE="yes"
SNORT_AUTO="your-ip/mask"
SNORT_PROMISC="yes"
  • Enable magic SysRq key - /etc/sysconfig/sysctl:
ENABLE_SYSRQ="yes"

[Jun 21, 2008] Automate Installation of Web Server in openSuse 11.2

Scott Morris shares a new bash script that will help you get a web server installed and running with minimal effort.

[Aug 30, 2008] SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 Hands-Free Installations (feature)

Check out this new Novell Connection article by Nathan Conger for instructions on how to set up and configure a Network Installation Server for speedy, hands-free installations.

[Aug 30, 2008] Lock, Stock and Barrel: Moving SUSE Linux Enterprise to a new Machine (tip)

It turns out that SUSE Linux Enterprise won't boot properly if you move the hard drive from one machine to another machine (even if you connect the hard drive to the same controller). Not to worry - Muhammad Sharfuddin figured out a workaround, and shares it here.

[Aug 30, 2008] Installing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Without a Bootable CD (tip)

Ashish Kumar shares a tip on how to install SLES on a machine that has Linux (boot loaded GRUB) already installed.

[Jan 28, 2008] Network Install HOWTO by Graham White

September 12, 2002 | IBM

SuSE Server Setup

SuSE Client Install

[Oct 8, 2007] Techzone Why SUSE Why

The installer certainly takes a while, but after the install, the system is set up with all online repose including non-oss repos (including if I remember correct packman) and all installed packages (and thus the whole OS) were up to date.

It certainly takes a while (though only an hour orso here) but it isn't 'antiquated'. It has many more options and features available than ubuntu and pclinuxos for example, and it leaves your system fully updated with all the latest updates.

That said, I do imagine that would be difficult to see after being bored to death for 6 hours. I certainly don't blame you for some hard feelings there. The livecd system would indeed by a good idea.

===

It is not necessary to download anything from the internet during installation. If you only want to use the CD medium uncheck the "Use online repositories" checkbox. It needs to be selected by default so netinstalls will "just work", and CD users can still have a complete experience with flash, java etc if they have an internet connection during install.

A live-cd with installer will be released in a week or so. (There is one for RC-1) This allows installing from the desktop as in some other distributions. It is significantly less flexible than the normal installer though. And using a livecd does not show whether things will work, in fact things are far less likely to work on a livecd.

Codec installation from packman you should find significantly easier than in previous versions. If you attempt to play an mp3 in e.g. amarok if you don't have fluendo's support installed (I think it will be if you included media from the online repositories) Then you would be linked to http://software.opensuse.org/codecs

The "community information" there will get you the fullest support, and will no longer require knowing how to add the packman repository etc.

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