Fully automated Fedora Linux installation manual (create custom installation cd)

Few will deny that everybody who installs Fedora or other Linux distributions on a regular basis will realize one day that the installation can be done without user intervention. There is no doubts that it could at least save installer’s time.

Let me describe how to create custom CD for fully automated installation of Fedora Core 5 (this manual is also is applicable for other versions of Fedora, RedHat and CentOS).

First of all copy contents of Fedora Core 5 FIRST installation compact disc to some directory. As Fedora Linux uses Anaconda installer and supports ‘kickstart’ installation method, we’ll create kickstart file (simply text file) with all needed installation options and put it to new Fedora installation CD. Create text file named as ks.conf (just for example) at the directory you’ve extracted CD and fill it up with the following contents (my example):

lang en_US
cdrom
keyboard us
install
reboot
timezone Europe/Kiev
selinux –disabled
auth –enablemd5 –useshadow
firewall –disabled
rootpw your_root_password
network –bootproto=static –device=eth0 –ip=192.168.0.1 –netmask=255.255.255.0 –hostname=viper_tes_fc5 –nodns
clearpart –all
part swap –recommended –ondisk=hda
part / –fstype ext3 –size 1 –grow –ondisk hda
bootloader –location=mbr
%packages
@ Core
-acpid
-anacron
-apmd
-cpuspeed
-aspell-en
-aspell
-at
-bluez-utils
-dhcpv6_client
-finger
-gpm
-irda-utils
-smartmontools
-ypbind
-nfs-utils
%post
/sbin/chkconfig sendmail off

This file assumes that your server has single IDE hard drive and one network interface card. In case of SATA or SCSI hdd just replace ‘hda’ with ‘sda’.

Please find full description of kickstart options here.

There are two ways to start kickstart installation when booting from Fedora installation CD: 1) type ks=cdrom:/ks.conf just after boot: prompt and press enter; 2) make kickstart installation method default (in this case installation will be performed automatically just since you’ve inserted disk to cdrom).

To apply first way it’s enough to assemble new Fedora installation cd and boot with it. To follow second way it’s necessary to modify file isolinux.cfg at isolinux directory of first Fedora Core 5 installation CD. To edit isolinux.cfg go to the directory you’ve copied Fedora installaion CD contents to, then change dir to isolinux folder and open file isolinux.cfg for writing. You’ll see something like this:

default linux
prompt 1
timeout 600
display boot.msg
F1 boot.msg
F2 options.msg
F3 general.msg
F4 param.msg
F5 rescue.msg
label linux
kernel vmlinuz
append initrd=initrd.img
label text
kernel vmlinuz
append initrd=initrd.img text
label ks
kernel vmlinuz
append ks initrd=initrd.img
label local
localboot 1
label memtest86
kernel memtest
append –

To make kickstart installation method default just replace line ‘
default linux‘ with ‘default kickstart‘ and add these lines to the end of the file:

label kickstart
kernel vmlinuz
append initrd=initrd.img ks=cdrom:/ks.conf

You may also replace 600 timeout with timeout you like (in ms). After changes are done save file.

The last step is to assemble new Fedora boot CD. In case you’re running Windows you may use IsoMagic or some other programs to edit ISO images and create custom bootable CDs.

As I’m not Windows user (wow!) I’ll describe how to assemble new bootable Fedora installation CD with Ubuntu (or ANY other Linux distribution):

1) go to directory you’ve copied Fedora Core 5 CD files to

2) execute command:

sudo mkisofs -o /tmp/new.iso -b isolinux/isolinux.bin -c isolinux/boot.cat -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table -J -R -V “Custom Fedora” .

This will create new ISO CD image at /tmp/new.iso.

After ISO is ready you can use any CD burning tools like cdrecord, k3b, gnome-baker to burn it onto compact disc.

At this point procedure is finished and you can test custom Fedora Core 5 installation CD by booting with it. BACKUP YOUR DATA BEFORE BOOTING with just created Fedora installation CD as the installation procedure is automated and HDD formatted without user confirmation.

If everything goes well after finishing installation you will get Fedora installed with hostname ‘viper_tes_fc5’ set and IP address 192.168.0.1/255.255.255.0 assigned to server’s network interface card.

Hope it helps anybody. Please feel free to contact me and I’ll help. Good luck!

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