Using the self-serve net installer/CentOS and Scientific Linux

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Installing CentOS or Scientific Linux using the BitFolk installer.

Supported distributions

  • CentOS 5.x
  • CentOS 6.x
  • CentOS 7.x
  • Scientific Linux 6.x

Supported install methods

CentOS 5.x

  • Interactive text-mode
  • Custom kickstart URL

CentOS 6.x, Scientific Linux 6.x

  • Semi-interactive text mode (automated partitioning and package selection)
  • Interactive VNC GUI
  • Custom kickstart URL

CentOS 7.x

  • Semi-interactive text mode (automated partitioning)
  • Custom kickstart URL

CentOS 8.x

Warning Warning: CentOS 8 has dropped support for the PV mode Xen guests that BitFolk currently uses. BitFolk is in the process of switching to PVH mode guests, which will resolve this issue, but this is not yet ready. Therefore it is not currently possible to install CentOS 8 with the official installer. CentOS 8 can however still be installed from the Rescue VM.

About kickstart

All RHEL-like installs use a kickstart profile.

The default kickstart profile

The default kickstart profiles for CentOS 5.x and CentOS 7.x perform a largely interactive text mode install, whereas the default kickstart for CentOS 6.x and Scientific Linux 6.x perform a mostly automatic install. In particular, the default installer kickstart for CentOS 6.x and Scientific Linux 6.x has automated partitioning and package selection. The different behaviour is down to Red Hat dropping disk partitioning and package selection from the text mode installer:


Warning Warning: If you select text mode for a kickstart installation, make sure that you specify choices for the partitioning, bootloader, and package selection options. These steps are automated in text mode, and anaconda cannot prompt you for missing information. If you do not provide choices for these options, anaconda will stop the installation process.
http://docs.redhat.com/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6/html-single/Installation_Guide/index.html#s1-kickstart2-file


Selecting a different kickstart profile

Since version v1.48bitfolk16 you can use the kickstart Xen Shell command to choose from some alternate kickstart profiles, or (from version v1.48bitfolk18) to specify a URL to your own custom profile.

Performing an interactive install

If you want to do an interactive install of CentOS 6.x or Scientific Linux 6.x you're going to need to use the VNC GUI kickstart.

This intially boots the text mode installer as far as acquiring an IP address and networking config (automated). It then generates a random password and starts a VNC server. You can connect to this with any VNC client, using the randomly-generated password. A normal GUI interactive install proceeds from there.

A typical Linux VNC client is vinagre.

CentOS 5's text mode installer

Partitioning

Soon after the install starts you'll see something like this:

Welcome to CentOS                                                               
   +-------------------------+ Partitioning Type +-------------------------+    
   |                                                                       |    
   |    Installation requires partitioning of your hard drive.  The        |    
   |    default layout is reasonable for most users.  You can either       |    
   |    choose to use this or create your own.                             |    
   |                                                                       |    
   | Remove all partitions on selected drives and create default layout.   |    
   | Remove linux partitions on selected drives and create default layout. |    
   | Use free space on selected drives and create default layout.          |    
   | Create custom layout.                                                 |    
   |                                                                       |    
   |       Which drive(s) do you want to use for this installation?        |    
   |          [*]   xvda    10237 MB (Xen Virtual Block Device) ^          |    
   |          [*]   xvdb      251 MB (Xen Virtual Block Device) #          |    
   |                                                                       |    
   |                          +----+   +------+                            |    
   |                          | OK |   | Back |                            |    
   |                          +----+   +------+                            |    
   |                                                                       |    
   |                                                                       |    
   +-----------------------------------------------------------------------+    
                                                                                
<Space>,<+>,<-> selection   |   <F2> Add drive   |   <F12> next screen

You are advised to:

  • move the cursor to the "Create custom layout." line
  • hit tab to move drive selection, where you can toggle the drives with the space key
  • when done there, tab again to the "OK" button and press return to continue.

You will then see something like:

Welcome to CentOS                                                               
                                                                                
 +------------------------------+ Partitioning +------------------------------+ 
 |                                                                            | 
 |        Device          Start    End     Size       Type     Mount Point    | 
 | /dev/xvda                                                                ^ | 
 |   Free space                1    1306   10240M  Free space               # | 
 | /dev/xvdb                                                                : | 
 |   Free space                1      33     256M  Free space               : | 
 | /dev/xvdc                                                                : | 
 |   Free space                1     621    4864M  Free space               : | 
 |                                                                          : | 
 |                                                                          : | 
 |                                                                          : | 
 |                                                                          v | 
 |                                                                            | 
 |      +-----+   +------+   +--------+   +------+   +----+   +------+        | 
 |      | New |   | Edit |   | Delete |   | RAID |   | OK |   | Back |        | 
 |      +-----+   +------+   +--------+   +------+   +----+   +------+        | 
 |                                                                            | 
 |                                                                            | 
 +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ 
                                                                                
    F1-Help     F2-New      F3-Edit   F4-Delete    F5-Reset    F12-OK

You just need to remember the above advice to put root as type ext3 on xvda1 and swap as xvdb1.

The install will now proceed normally and should be finished in a couple of minutes.

Finishing the install

Once the install has completed you'll see something like:

sending termination signals...done                                             
sending kill signals...done
disabling swap...
        /tmp/xvdb1
unmounting filesystems...
        /mnt/runtime done
        disabling /dev/loop0
        /proc done
        /dev/pts done
        /sys done
        /tmp/ramfs done
        /selinux done
        /mnt/sysimage/sys done
        /mnt/sysimage/proc done
        /mnt/sysimage/selinux done
        /mnt/sysimage/dev done
        /mnt/sysimage done
rebooting system
Restarting system.
xen-shell>

You should now be able to boot into the new CentOS install.

CentOS 7.x's text mode installer

On CentOS 7.x the default kickstart sets all defaults and leaves you to set your own root password. If you wish it is then possible at this point for you to alter most settings apart from disk partitioning. The initial installer screen will look something like the following:

Starting automated install......
Generating updated storage configuration
Checking storage configuration...
================================================================================
================================================================================
Installation

 1) [x] Language settings                 2) [x] Timezone settings
        (English (United Kingdom))               (Etc/UTC timezone)
 3) [x] Software selection                4) [x] Installation source
        (Custom software selected)               (http://lon.static.bitfolk.com/
 5) [x] Network settings                         centos/7/os/x86_64)
        (Wired (eth0) connected)          6) [x] Install Destination
 7) [x] Kdump                                    (Custom partitioning selected)
        (Kdump is enabled)                8) [!] Create user
 9) [!] Set root password                        (No user will be created)
        (Password is not set.)
  Please make your choice from above ['q' to quit | 'b' to begin installation |
  'r' to refresh]:

You will need to select '9' to set a root password.

In what appears to be a bug, after setting the root password the installer will insist now that "3) Software selection" now needs completing. Select '3' and then make your selection (e.g. just '1' for a minimal install), then 'c' to continue.

The installer screen will now resemble:

 1) [x] Language settings                 2) [x] Timezone settings
        (English (United Kingdom))               (Etc/UTC timezone)
 3) [!] Software selection                4) [!] Installation source
        (Processing...)                          (http://lon.static.bitfolk.com/
 5) [x] Network settings                         centos/7/os/x86_64)
        (Wired (eth0) connected)          6) [x] Install Destination
 7) [x] Kdump                                    (Custom partitioning selected)
        (Kdump is enabled)                8) [x] Create user
 9) [x] Set root password                        (No user will be created)
        (Password is set.)
  Please make your choice from above ['q' to quit | 'b' to begin installation |
  'r' to refresh]:

'r' to refresh until it changes to:

 1) [x] Language settings                 2) [x] Timezone settings
        (English (United Kingdom))               (Etc/UTC timezone)
 3) [x] Software selection                4) [x] Installation source
        (Minimal Install)                        (http://lon.static.bitfolk.com/
 5) [x] Network settings                         centos/7/os/x86_64)
        (Wired (eth0) connected)          6) [x] Install Destination
 7) [x] Kdump                                    (Custom partitioning selected)
        (Kdump is enabled)                8) [x] Create user
 9) [x] Set root password                        (No user will be created)
        (Password is set.)
  Please make your choice from above ['q' to quit | 'b' to begin installation |
  'r' to refresh]:

and then you are ready to use 'b' to begin the installation. There will be no further questions until the installation is completed.

If you desire an entirely automated installation then:

  1. Take a copy of the default kickstart file.
  2. Add an appropriate rootpw command.
  3. Host your kickstart file on some web server.
  4. Select your kickstart file from BitFolk's Xen Shell.

The addition of a rootpw command to the default kickstart will result in an entirely automated install that will not pause for input at all.