A few years ago, IBM enabled its powerful platform of servers based on the Power™ Architecture to run with the most innovative and stable operational system at the time. Thus, the Linux® on POWER® philosophy was born. Linux on POWER seeks to make the Linux experience easier and more stable on POWER machines. Accordingly, the IBM Linux Technology Center (LTC) in Brazil designed the IBM Installation Toolkit so users can easily install Linux on the Power Architecture™.
This article shows you how to use the toolkit to install a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) distribution on a POWER machine.
The IBM Installation Toolkit provides a set of tools that greatly simplify the installation of Linux on virtualized and non-virtualized Power machines. Additionally, you can use the toolkit as a bootable rescue DVD to run diagnostic tools and repair previously installed operating systems. You also get access to the IBM value-added software needed to fully exploit the industry-leading capabilities of the Power Architecture platform, such as Dynamic Logical Partitioning (DLPAR).
With the live DVD, you can install the following RHEL or SLES versions:
- SLES 9 (GA, SP1, SP2, SP3) and SLES 10 (GA and SP1)
- RHEL 4 (GA, U1, U2, U3, U4, U5) and RHEL 5 (GA)
Some of the key functions of the IBM Installation Toolkit for Linux on POWER are:
- Easy Linux installation: A wizard helps you install and configure Linux on POWER machines in just a few steps, and it works with new and existing configurations. With remote installation control, you can run installations by directing a graphical Web browser or a secure shell (SSH) to the target machine. Both DVD and network-based installations are supported.
- Access to the latest firmware and IBM value-add software: You get an easy-to-use interface for updating system firmware, as well as access to the latest system firmware. This single comprehensive source for all Linux on POWER software provides IBM Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) tools.
- Easy management of your computing environment: You get a bootable rescue DVD for system diagnostics or maintenance on previously installed operating systems. You also get access to the latest Linux on POWER documentation, including an application to easily create and manage network repositories containing Linux and IBM value-added packages.
You can use the IBM Installation Toolkit live DVD on the Open Power™, Power Blades (JS20, JS21), System i5™, System p5™, and System p6™ families including the IntelliStation® POWER 185 (ATX). This includes the POWER5™, POWER6™, and PowerPC 970 processor families.
The minimum memory required to run the IBM Installation Toolkit is 512MB.
In POWER6, the latest version of IBM Installation Toolkit (2007.09.25) supports only RHEL 4 U5 and SLES 10 SP1 installations.
The toolkit supports two types of RHEL and SLES installations: using the distribution's CD/DVDs or over network.
To perform a network installation (using HTTP, FTP, or NFS protocols), you must set up an installation server (or repository server) with the System Tools package provided in the toolkit. (Your network administrator must have added your machine to the list of allowed clients for network boot.) Otherwise, you will not be able to install your system correctly. If you are not sure whether your machine can be served a network image, contact your network administrator.
For both types of installations, and for both SLES and RHEL, start at the Welcome Center's installation wizard. To start the wizard, boot the machine with the toolkit.
To boot using the IBM Installation Toolkit Live DVD, make sure your system has the CD/DVD-ROM drive or the Network Adaptor as its first boot device as follows:
- Power on your system.
- At the prompt, press "1" to enter the SMS Menu.
- In the SMS Menu, select the following options: Boot Options > Configure Boot Device Order > Select 1st Boot Device > List All Devices.
- Select either your CD/DVD-ROM drive or a Network Adaptor from the list.
- Select Set Boot Sequence: Configure as 1st Boot Device.
- Select Exit System Management Services.
- Select Yes to exit.
As mentioned, to boot via the Network Adaptor, your network administrator must have added your machine to the list of allowed clients for network boot. Contact your network administrator if you have questions.
Once the boot method is selected, the IBM Installation Toolkit will start like any Linux distribution. The first step of the boot process is the boot loader shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. IBM Installation Toolkit boot loader
At the boot loader prompt, you can press the Tab key to see all of the available labels you can type to boot your machine. If your machine is an ATX and you want to boot it using the serial console, type the atx-serial label and press Enter; otherwise, use the default label for booting or press Enter.
Next, load the root filesystem into the memory. The root filesystem contains all installation, diagnostics, and recovery tools used by the toolkit, including the Linux on POWER documentation catalog. This step can take several minutes.
During the boot process, you will be asked to select your locale and keyboard settings from a list. If your system times out while this process is going on or if any option was left unselected, the system defaults (English/standard US keyboard) will be loaded.
At the end of the boot process, you see a shell prompt, as in Figure 2.
Figure 2. IBM Installation Toolkit successfully booted
Now you can start the installation wizard by typing
WelcomeCenter. If your machine has a graphics card,
the X server will start up and the Welcome Center will open
The Welcome Center installation wizard steps are the same for the RHEL and SLES distributions, but DVD and network installations have slight differences, as described below.
When you start the Welcome Center for the first time after boot, you see the license agreement shown in Figure 3 (text and graphical modes are both shown). If you decline the license, the Welcome Center will not continue.
Figure 3. IBM Installation Toolkit license, text and graphical modes
In text mode, press Enter on the [+] View License link to read the license. Once you accept the license, you see the Welcome Center main menu shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Welcome center main menu, text and graphical modes
To start a new Linux installation from the main menu, choose to install Linux. You can choose the main aspects of your new Linux installation.
The first option is the Linux distribution that you want to install in the target system. It can be SLES 9 (or any of its service packs), SLES 10, RHEL 4 (or any of its updates), or RHEL 5. Older Linux distributions may not support POWER6 machines; for that reason, the only distributions supported on this architecture are RHEL 4 Update 5 and SLES 10 SP1.
The next option is the Installation Profile field; it determines the set of packages that will be installed in the target system. You have four options:
- Minimal package selection installs a minimal system.
- Minimal package selection with X installs a minimal system that contains the X Window System. This is useful for servers that have a graphics card and need to keep the installation to a minimum.
- Install all packages installs all of the packages from the distribution.
- Default package selection installs the distribution's default package selection.
The Installation media option specifies the location of the packages: either the distribution set of CD/DVDs or an installation server (network).
The last option is for disk partitioning: how the installer is going to partition the machine's disk. You have two options, but before you select one, read the Note below:
- Automatic partitioning: The installer chooses the best disk-partitioning plan for your system (all data on the disk will be lost).
- Manual partitioning: You partition the machine's disks manually through the Welcome Center's partitioning interface.
Note: Before you select a partitioning option, be aware that:
- The latest version of the IBM Installation Toolkit (2007.09.25) does not support partitions under LVM and RAID. If you choose to install SLES 9 or 10, all of your LVM partitions will be erased.
- A PReP partition is automatically created on the automatic partitioning option. You need to create the PReP partition if you select manual partitioning. If you don't have a PReP partition on your system yet, the installer will give you instructions for creating one.
Figure 5 shows the first wizard screen.
Figure 5. Installation settings, text and graphical modes
If you chose to install the target system over the network, the next screen is the Network Based Installation setting. In this screen, you can set the server and path of the distribution (Network Install Server) and IBM Installation Toolkit (IBM/Additional Packages Server) repositories.
If you booted the target machine from the network, that information might be already available; in that case, just select a server from the drop-down list. Otherwise, you will be required to provide the information manually. The screen fields are:
- Protocol determines how the server is providing the packages over the network: HTTP, FTP or NFS. Contact your network administrator if you do not have this information.
- Server IP is the IP address of the installation server. Contact your network administrator to get this information.
- Server directory is the directory that you use to access the distribution content on the server. Contact your network administrator if you do not have this information.
The distribution package repository and IBM packages repository must be set up on the server by the System Tools. (The packages from IBM and the distribution's packages may be on different servers, or on the same server, but in different directories, depending on how your network administrator configured this.) If they were not set up using the System Tools, the Welcome Center will fail to recognize the repositories.
Figure 6 demonstrates this step of the wizard.
Figure 6. Installation wizard server options, text and graphical modes
After configuring all the Network Based Installation settings, the next step of the wizard is disk selection or custom disk partitioning. The Disk Selection option applies only to automatic partitioning installations; the Custom Disk Partitioning option performs manual partitioning.
The disk selection screen shows a list of all disks on the machine that you can choose to install the new system. All of the data on the selected disk will be lost.
On the custom disk partitioning screen, you will be able to partition your disk manually. You first see how your disks are currently partitioned, as shown in Figure 7. (This step of Welcome Center wizard just configures the partitioning plan of your disks. The disks will be effectively partitioned only when Auto YaST or Anaconda start their jobs. )
Figure 7. Installation wizard, partitioning, text and graphical modes
If not all of your disks are displayed, click the Reset button to reload the values. (Clicking Reset will discard all of your modifications to the partition plans so far). This interface shows some information about your system, such as the amount of free space left in the disk and the size of your disk.
Select the disk you want to work on, and then use the buttons below it to Add, Delete, Delete All, Edit, or Reset. The Reset button resets the partition plan you just created. Use the Add button to create partitions after selecting the disk where you want to create these partitions and:
- Specify the type of partition: ext2, ext3, vfat, swap, or prep. The reiserfs option will be shown only if you've selected SLES 9 or 10 to install.
- Specify the size in bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, or terabytes.
- Specify the partition's mount point.
To fill up the disk space when creating the last partition, select the Use all available space checkbox.
To apply your choices, click Create. Figure 8 illustrates this action in graphical mode. The interface to create partitions in text mode is similar.
Figure 8. Creating a new partition with the installation wizard
You can change the properties of a partition by selecting the partition and clicking Edit. You may also select an existing partition and reuse it by editing the partition and changing its properties. The reuse of an existing partition will fail if you are installing a new SLES 10 system, and the existing system is not SLES 10. In this case, the best practice is to delete all existing partitions and create new ones, or use the automatic partitioning.
If you do not have a PReP partition, the wizard will display an alert. Click on Help me to fix this issue, and select the disk where you want to create the PReP boot partition. To lessen the risk of getting a bad configuration for the boot loader in RHEL 4 or 5, always create a boot partition (/boot) for your system.
The required partitions are the PReP partition, swap partition, and a root ("/") partition. If you forget to create one of these, the Welcome Center will display an error message and prompt you to create them.
After you've finished creating a partition plan for your system, click Next.
Now you can configure all network cards so your future installed system can access your private network or the Internet. The network cards can be configured to use DHCP, or you can manually configure it.
By default, all network cards are configured to use DHCP. To manually configure any card, select the one that you want to configure and then click the Edit button and in the following screen, click Manual. At the next screen, provide the following information:
- IP address for the card
Then select Configure to confirm your changes, or Cancel to cancel the operation. Figures 9 and 10 show the automatic and manual network configuration screens, respectively, in both the graphical and text modes.
Figure 9. Wizard network configuration, text and graphical modes
Figure 10. Wizard manual network configuration, text and graphical modes
The next step is selecting the target system configuration, as shown in Figure 11.
Figure 11. Installation wizard system configuration, text and graphical modes
Here you can:
- Select the type of keyboard and mouse attached to the machine (Input Peripherals field).
- Select the language and time zone for the system (Localization field). If the hardware clock is set to local time instead of UTC, select the Set to local time checkbox.
- Set the root password for the new installed system (System Security field).
The next step is the IBM Value-add Software selection shown in Figure 12.
Figure 12. Installation wizard IBM packages selection, text and graphical modes
Here you can select optional packages to install and read their descriptions. The list does not include packages that do not apply to your machine. The package families are initially collapsed. Click the "+" symbol to expand the list.
If you choose one or more optional IBM value-add software packages, a screen with a licensing summary of all selected packages appears, as shown in Figure 13.
Figure 13. Installation wizard IBM packages licenses
Either accept or decline the licenses. The installation will proceed only if you accept the licenses. You can read the license's text by following the links to them. Use your browser's back button to return the license acceptance screen later.
At this point, the installation can begin. When you are ready to continue, click Click here to install the system, as shown in Figure 14.
Figure 14. Installation wizard, ready to go, text and graphical modes
Now Auto YaST or Anaconda is launched and the system is installed automatically. No input from you is necessary, except to change the CD/DVDs.
When the installation program asks for the first media in a SLES install, you can insert either the first CD/DVD or a corresponding SLES Service Pack CD. If you choose to install SLES 9 using a SLES Service Pack CD, the installer will detect it, and you will need to change the CD/DVDs when required.
While the installation takes place, a screen similar to the top one in Figure 15 will be displayed if you are installing SLES, and the bottom one if you are installing RHEL.
Figure 15. After the configuration, YaST (top) and Anaconda (bottom) will install packages and set up some services
After the installation finishes, the system will not automatically reboot. You will see the main page of the Welcome Center and may choose to reboot the system there by selecting Utilities > Reboot System and then confirming the action by clicking Continue.
During the first boot after installation, YaST and Anaconda will install all IBM packages you selected with the installation wizard and set up some services. Also, the Red Hat Hardware Discovery Utility (Kudzu) might report a new hardware card in your system. If so, select Ignoring.
When the boot process finishes, you can log in as root in the system and create normal user accounts. An image of the Welcome Center is installed at this point and you can start it by typing WelcomeCenter.
This article walks you through installing a complete Linux system and some IBM value-added packages in just a few clicks, using the IBM Installation Toolkit. You can also use the toolkit to install IBM RAS tools on a previously installed system, upgrade the firmware level on Power machines, perform diagnostics or maintenance operations on previously installed systems, and browse and search Linux on POWER documentation included on the toolkit ISO.
"Leverage transparent huge pages on Linux on POWER"
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Paulo Ricardo Paz Vital is a Software Engineer at the IBM Linux Technology Center in Brazil. He graduated in Computer Engineering at the Dom Bosco Catholic University (UCDB) in 2003. He has been working with Linux and UNIX systems since 1999. At IBM, he develops the IBM Installation Toolkit and Yaboot projects.