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10. FAQs/Wish list

Q: After KickStart installation, my machine won't boot up. The BIOS complains with a message like Missing operating system.

A: Sounds like the partition with the root filesystem on isn't bootable. Use fdisk to toggle its bootable status.

Q: After the floppy boots, I get the message: Error opening files for kickstart copy: File exists.

A: Use a more recent version of boot.img and supp.img - look in the updates directory of your local RedHat mirror site. There was a bug in some older versions of these for RedHat 5.1.

Q: Can you have all outstanding patches (update RPMs) applied automatically too ? How ?

A1: Copy the RPMs you want installing to the RPMS directory from which the installation is going to take place, get rid of the older RPMs, and update the file RedHat/base/hdlist with the new RPM details. See Appendix C for a script from Eric Doutreleau to do this for you. If you do this yourself, remember to run genhdlist afterwards!

A2: Try this Perl script: patchup. This compares the RPMs your system has installed with those in a nominated directory and reports on the ones it thinks need updating. It can even install them for you if you trust it to.

A3: rpm2hml has a much more powerful (12MB of C code vs. a page of Perl!) version of A2.

Q: A single config file on the install server for all of the clients, perhaps as a fallback after trying IPADDR-kickstart ?

A1: Use the BOOTP/DHCP 'boot file' parameter bf to set the filename.

A2: Add a a record bf=/kickstart/ks.cfg to the relevant entry in /etc/bootptab.

Q: More flexibility when things go wrong - e.g. prompt for alternate locations if distribution not found on CD-ROM.

A: ?

Q: Explicit exclusion of packages - e.g. everything apart from sendmail.

A: Rebuild the BASE package without sendmail.

Q: Choose which services are started automatically on boot-up by the run-level scripts under /etc/rc.d/.

A: The chkconfig utility lets you configure which services are run automatically on boot-up. You can run this in your post-installation script section, e.g. to run ypbind in run levels 3, 4 and 5:

chkconfig --level 345 ypbind on

and it will start the ypbind level on the 345 level.

Q: When executing the shell commands in the %post section, bring any output up in another virtual console rather than overwriting the main screen. Could be done in the shell commands section using open?.

A: No problem - do something like this:

  exec >/dev/tty5

Q: Does the filesystem creation code check for bad blocks ?

A: If you switch to the virtual console where the filesystem creation output is being displayed, you won't see any mention of the 'read-only' test being performed. Looks like the answer is no.

Q: Can I arrange things so some of my machines are configured differently from others ?

A: You could move the host dependent stuff into the scripted section of the KickStart config - e.g. only install a given RPM if on a given machine. It would be useful to have a conditional installation feature in the packages section of the config file, e.g. switching on architecture, or hostname/domain name/IP address.

Q: Are there any changes between RedHat 5.1 and 5.2 ?

A1: Lots of changes in the installer, but mostly bug fixes or cosmetic improvements. No impact on KickStart as far as I can tell - from a diff -rcs of the two misc/src/install directories.

A2: RH5.2 now apparently includes the automatic IP allocation/DHCP patches to bootpd, but they have left out the documentation which tells you how to use it.

Q: (How) can you clear a specific partition or partitions ? e.g. to leave /home but zap /.

A: You can't - yet!

Q: Can you arrange to have your partitions created across multiple drives ? e.g. / on sda and /home on sdb.

A: Don't think so - looks like you only get access to the first drive from the partitioning tool.

Q: Is it possible to specify existing partitions to be included in the mount table, or is it only possible to specify the creation of new partitions that will then be included?

A: ?

Q: After running mkkickstart, where is the file it creates?

A: It doesn't create a file - it dumps the KickStart config to stdout.

Q: In virtual console 4 (Alt-F4) I get Unable to load NLS charset cp437(nls_cp437). What does this mean ? Should I be worried ?

A: Sounds like you're trying to mount a CD-ROM burned with the Joliet (Unicode extensions to ISO 9660. In theory the filenames on the CD-ROM might get munched and not make it through to Linux correctly. In practice it doesn't seem to cause any problems - could be a spurious dependency ?

Q: Why am i getting the X Window System installed ? I didn't put it in my list of packages.

A: The XFree86-VGA16 RPM is a 'base' component, and as such always gets installed - unless you change the definition of the base class.

Q: In my post-installation script, can I use the packages which have been installed by now to do funky things not possible with the limited tools on the floppies ?

A: Yep - e.g. if you chose to install Perl when you put your KickStart config together, almost anything is possible in about five lines :-)

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