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4. SuSE Server Setup

This section explains how to set up your server machine to be an install server for SuSE Linux. You can set up any Linux distribution to be a SuSE Linux install server, this machine does not necessarily have to be running SuSE Linux itself.

This guide starts from the point where you have a machine installed with Linux which is already up and running and connected to your network. If you require help with installing Linux on your server then please consult the Further Information section of this HOWTO in Appendix A.

4.1 Setting Up Filespace

In order for your server to act as a SuSE Network Install server you will need to put on all the required data that will be needed to perform a full installation of the SuSE version you are serving. For example, if you are used to installing SuSE using CDs then you will need space on your server to copy ALL the contents of each CD onto your server.

So, before you even think about setting up your machine as an install server, you must check that you have the required space available. This sounds like a trivial thing to check but it is very important and easily forgotten when you're setting up.

How much space will you need?

A guide for the amount of space that you will require will be the amount or space of install media that you are intending to copy from later. This might be one of the following examples:

How much space do you have?

You will need the appropriate amount of space available to your system on some local filesystem. It does not matter what form this takes, whether it's a RAID device, local disk (either SCSI or IDE), etc. Ensure that the space you intend to use is formatted with your chosen filesystem and is mounted.

You can check this space with the command:

df -h

If this output shows you have enough space to copy your install media then great, you can continue installation. If not then it's time to think about an upgrade to your intended server machine!

4.2 Copy Installation Media

Once you know you have enough space available it's time to start copying your install media to your chosen filesystem and directory. For the purposes of this HOWTO we will use the following example to represent the directory from which our install server will be setup and running:


Copy your install media to /install. The following example shows you how to do this for copying your SuSE CD images to /install:

  1. Mount your CD
    e.g. mount /mnt/cdrom
  2. Copy the data from CD
    e.g. cp -av /mnt/cdrom /install
  3. Unmount the CD
    e.g. umount /mnt/cdrom
  4. Now swap CDs and repeat from step 1 for each of your CDs you have.
  5. Ensure that you have the dot files from the root directory of each CD copied over to /install

Now you should have all you need in /install but if you have copied from CD then as far as SuSE is concerned the /install directory still represents a set of CD images that you have copied. You need to change this such that the set of CD images appears as a single installation medium. Use the following Perl command to do this:

perl -pi -e 's/InstPath:\t\d+/InstPath:\t01/' /install/suse/setup/descr/common.pkd

4.3 Enable Remote Access

Time to make your install data available to other machines on the network.


SuSE is best installed over the network using NFS since support for the HTTP and FTP protocols is not necessarily supported during installation, even though later system updates may be applied over HTTP or FTP.

To install over NFS you need to meet certain conditions on the server:

To export your install directory edit the /etc/exports file and add an entry for /install to it. In our example, we would use the folowing line:

/install *(ro)
When you have saved your exports file you must then get your NFS daemon to read its configuration file again in order to export the directory you just added. Do this by running the command:
exportfs -r
This gives us the most simple read-only export to all hosts on our network. If you want to include more advanced options in your export e.g. only exporting to certain hosts on the network or a certain subnet, etc then see your man page for the exports file at exports (5).

You have now completed the basic setup of your install server.

4.4 Package Customisation

You can, if you wish, add your own packages to the SuSE distribution so that they are installed along with SuSE over the network when you install your clients. The advantage of this is that you don't have to spend time configuring each machine for packages that you may want installed that are not included with SuSE. Examples of this might be your own RPM packages that you have created or some specialised package.

Simply copy your RPM package files into the following directory

NOTE: you may need to create this directory if it does not exist

Your custom RPM packages should now be available to the clients.

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