Deploy Red Hat across multiple computers using Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment

Any time you have employees, overhead costs are going to be substantial, especially when it comes to new hires. Of the many things new employees need, setting up their computer and its operating system, and installing and configuring appropriate applications is one of the most time-consuming. Tivoli® Provisioning Manager for Operating System Deployment greatly reduces this overhead by allowing you to create and manage deployable images and any associated software packages efficiently through a Web interface. This tutorial shows you how to use Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment to create installation images and manage packages for an actual deployment of RedHat Enterprise Linux®.

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Sam Boucot (boucot@verizon.net), Developer and writer, Freelance writer

Sam BoucotSam Boucot graduated with a degree in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986. He has worked for many years as a database programmer.



22 May 2007

Before you start

This tutorial is for IT specialists who are responsible for deploying multiple computers, particularly if these machines use RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It explains how to use Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Operating System Deployment to deploy RHEL to one or more computers.

It assumes that you are familiar with the basics of system management. Familiarity with Tivoli Provisioning Manager is not required, but familiarity with Linux in general and RedHat Enterprise Linux in particular is recommended.

About this tutorial

Taking a new computer from its "bare metal" state to having a functional operating system and the necessary software can be a complex and time consuming project. Performing this task for multiple computers on a regular basis -- as IT specialists often have to do for new hires and equipment purchases -- can be torture. Fortunately, Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Operating System Deployment automates this process so that it doesn't have to be an endurance test.

This tutorial focuses on using Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment to deploy one or more installations of RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in a cross-platform environment. Learn about the following:

  • What Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment is
  • How to install Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment on Windows
  • What capabilities the Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment Web Console gives you
  • How to create an unattended installation profile for deploying RHEL
  • How to deploy RHEL from an unattended installation profile
  • How cloning an existing system works, and the implications thereof

Before you get started, you'll need a few tools.

Prerequisites

None

System requirements

To complete the steps in this tutorial, you will need to have access to the following:

  • Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Operating System Deployment: You can download a free trial version of Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment.
  • The server machine: This is the machine on which Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment runs. This machine must be running one of these operating systems:
    • Windows 2000, Windows 2003
    • Fedora Core 3, 4, 5, 6 (i386)
    • RedHat Enterprise Linux: RHEL3, RHEL4, RHAS4 (i386)
    • SuSE Linux Professional 9.x (i386)
    • SuSE Linux Enterprise Server: SLES 9, SLES 10 (i386)
    • Solaris 8, Solaris 9, Solaris 10 (SPARC)
    • FreeBSD 6.0 or higher (i386)
    • Mac OS X 10.4 (universal binary)
    This tutorial was written and tested using a system in which the server machine runs Windows 2003.
  • A DHCP server: This can be a separate server, or can be running on the main Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment server.
  • Image server: Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment creates disk images that must be stored somewhere. Again, this can be on the main server. In any case, the image server must have a minimum capacity of 10 GB.
  • The target machine: This machine must be compatible with RHEL4, and must have at least 8 GB of disk space.

Overview

The overall process of using Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Operating System Deployment can involve as many as three machines for a single deployment; let's get the lay of the land before diving in.

What is Tivoli Provisioning Manager?

You've just hired a new engineer (or secretary, or accountant, or some such). Great, right? Sure, unless you're the IT specialist responsible for making sure the new hire has a working computer when they report to work Monday morning. If you're that person, you're faced with the inevitable task of not only acquiring a new computer, but also installing the appropriate operating system, and any additional software that's commonly used in the new employee's position. You'll also have to make sure that you have all of the appropriate drivers for this machine, and that they're installed properly.

To make matters worse, your company buys computers on a commodity basis; whoever's the least expensive when it needs the new systems gets the order. That means different machines have different components, and thus need different drivers.

What a nightmare.

Fortunately, you also have Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment. Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment enables you to remotely deploy both an operating system and any required drivers and software packages.

Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Open Source Deployment is part of the Tivoli family of management tools. Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment enables you to create and manage installation "images", which you can then use to create (or recreate) the operating system on a remote target machine. It enables you to manage those operating systems once they're installed.

Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment also enables you to use the same image for multiple machines by separating out the driver installation process. That way, you only have to manage a single image for a particular installation task; when Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment performs the install, it automatically determines which drivers are appropriate for the current machine.

The task set out in this tutorial, however, is a bit more straightforward.

What you are going to accomplish

In this tutorial, you are going to learn how to use Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment to deploy RedHat Enterprise Linux. This task involves as many as three computers:

  • The server: You'll need your Tivoli installation, of course. In this case, you'll be installing TPM for OSD on a Windows 2003 server.
  • The source: Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment gives you the option to create an installation "from scratch", or to clone an existing installation. This tutorial focuses on the "from scratch" method, but discusses both.
  • The target: This is the machine onto which you're deploying the operating system.

You'll proceed as follows:

  1. Determine your requirements.
  2. Obtain Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment.
  3. Install Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment.
  4. Get familiar with the Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment Web Console.
  5. Create an "unattended installation profile", which enables you to install RHEL4 "from scratch".
  6. Use Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment to deploy the package specified by the profile.

Let's get started.


Install Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS deployment

The first step to easily deploying Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to your company's computers is to download and install Tivoli Provisioning Manager for Operating System Deployment V5.1 (Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment) from IBM. At the time of this writing, IBM offers a 60 day evaluation version of the software. It includes all of the full product's features, so you'll be able to get a good idea of how it works.

  1. Download Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment. You'll see a list of hardware requirements: Be sure you have what's necessary to run and host Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment, and also what's needed for the target machine onto which you plan to deploy RHEL4. When in doubt, it's always advisable to get extra memory.
  2. After you've unarchived Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment, open the folder and double-click the Setup wizard, which guides you through the entire installation process. First, select the language for your installation, as you can see in Figure 1.
    Figure 1. Select the language panel
    Select the language panel
  3. Select your language. English is used for this tutorial. Click on the arrow button to continue to the next screen.
  4. Click Next on the Welcome screen to begin the installation.
  5. View and accept the terms in the License Agreement and then click Next.
  6. Configure which features of Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment to install, as shown in Figure 2.
    Figure 2. Choosing the features to install
    Choosing the features to instal

    You can choose which features to install and/or not install. For example, if you're a very small shop and everyone speaks the same language, you might opt to skip the Multilingual interface. The install covered in this tutorial includes the default set of features.

  7. Click Next.
  8. Continuing on, the next screen prompts you to select a data folder, as shown in Figure 3.
    Figure 3. Designating a data folder
    Designating a data folder

    This tutorial uses c:\TPMfOS Files\ to store the disk images that you'll eventually deploy on target machines. These images are essentially copies of an entire deployment, so they can get pretty large. Make sure that this directory is on a partition that has at least 10 GB of space available. Click Next.

  9. Choose the HTTP and HTTPS ports for the Web interface's console settings, as shown in Figure 4.
    Figure 4. HTTP server console settings
    HTTP server console settings

    Unless you've already got HTTP servers running on them, choose port 8080 for HTTP and port 443 for HTTPS. If they're not available, you can choose other ports, or you can shut down or reconfigure the conflicting application. Click Next.

  10. Enter an Administrator name and password, as shown in Figure 5.
    Figure 5. Selecting an Administrator name and password
    Selecting an Administrator name and password

    You don't have to use the name "Administrator"; you can have any username you choose. This tutorial uses TPMADMIN. Enter a password, confirm it, and click Next.

  11. Choose a user account for the Web interface, as shown in Figure 6.
    Figure 6. Choosing a user account for the Web interface
    Choosing a user account for the Web interface

    You can set up a specific username and password to protect the Web interface, but you don't have to. If you leave this screen blank (as we did for this tutorial) Tivoli uses the local system account as the account for logging into and using the Web interface extension. Click Next.

  12. The last screen shows all of the options you've chosen. You can go back now and make changes to your installation, or click Install to begin.

    Finally, you arrive at the final screen of the installation, as shown in Figure 7.

    Figure 7. Completing the installation
    Completing the installation
  13. Check the Launch check box to launch the Web-based console upon completion of the installation. Clicking Finish brings you to the screen shown in Figure 8.
    Figure 8. The Web-based console
    The Web-based console

At this point you've successfully configured and installed Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment V5.1. In the next section you'll login to and learn to use the Web-based console.


Using the Web interface

Years ago, a Web interface was a novelty, and typically contained only the most basic functions of an application. Not these days! The Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment Web interface is a slick graphical Web console interfacing to the Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment back end. Through the Web interface you can command Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment in an intuitive Web environment. This section shows you how to open it up and log in. It also introduces you to the various available functions.

Accessing the Web interface

  1. Open the Web interface to Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment. If you've closed it since you first installed the software, click Start and navigate to the Programs menu, All Programs in Windows Server 2003. Click IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager, and then click Web interface. You should see a screen as shown in Figure 9.
    Figure 9. Security alert
    Security alert
  2. The security alert is just a warning to tell you that the certificate used for the SSL connection to the Web interface is from an unrecognized Certificate Authority, but is indeed valid. Fortunately, although the browser doesn't know it, you know it's a trustworthy source because it is packaged with the IBM Tivoli product you just installed. Ignore the alert by clicking Yes to proceed.

The Web interface should now appear, as previously shown in Figure 8. Now let's see what capabilities the Web interface gives you.

First time user?

To learn more about the Web interface, click First time console user? in the bottom-right corner. Doing so shows you some basics about using the Web interface, as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. First time console user?
First time console user?

Take note of the three bullets shown in Figure 10, so that you won't get confused by possible random console behavior. Next you'll login.

Logging in

To login and begin using the Web interface, simply enter the Administrator username and password you created in the installation section (see Figure 11).

Figure 11. Logging in
Logging in

After you've entered your username and password, login by clicking Log on. Logging in takes you to the next page, shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. Logged in
Logged in

Here you can view the possible places to go. Feel free to click on the various menus on the left side. Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment also provides additional assistance for new users.

Bob the Bulb

If you find yourself stuck, Bob the Bulb comes to the rescue! Bob the Bulb is a small avatar that provides assistance with the Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment interface. You can activate him by clicking the little yellow question mark on the bottom-right corner of the screen, to the right of the Logout button. Bob the Bulb should appear as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13. Enter Bob the Bulb
Enter Bob the bulb

If you ever need some assistance, be sure to see if Bob the Bulb can help you out. You can de-activate him, and send him back to where he came from by clicking the little yellow question mark with a red X on it on the bottom-right corner of the screen, to the right of the Logout button.

Now let's take a look at what you came here fore: OS deployment.

The OS Deployment menu

The OS Deployment menu is where you'll spend the most time. Select OS Deployment on the left side, the third blue menu item from the top, as shown in Figure 13. You'll see four submenus there:

  • Host Monitor -- Monitor the hosts associated with Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment, such as machines on which you have deployed operating systems.
  • Task templates -- Task templates you can create to help automate the everyday tasks you perform using TPM for OSD.
  • Profiles -- Profiles you create that are associated with disk images of operating systems that are deployable to target machines.
  • Software packages -- Custom software packages that you create, which can you can then deploy to live machines.

There you have it! You're a master of the Web interface for Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment. Next, learn about how to create an unattended setup profile of RHEL4.


Create an unattended setup profile

An unattended setup allows you to deploy operating systems on target machines such that when the operating system is being deployed/installed the installation process will not ask any questions. Thus, it does not need to be manually watched, attended, and can complete without user input. This section shows you how to create an unattended setup profile that you'll deploy later.

A word about hardware requirements

Before proceeding, it's crucial to make sure that the hardware onto which you're going to be deploying RedHat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL4) is actually compatible with RHEL4. This might seem like a simple task, but it's not. The hardware not only has to work with RHEL4, it has to be configurable by RHEL4.

Pay particular attention to your motherboard and video card, and make sure you check the appropriate Hardware Compatibility List. It's not unusual for a salesman to be less familiar with the requirements of Linux in general, and RHEL4 in particular.

With your hardware in place, it's time to create a new profile.

Creating a new profile

You're going to create a new profile, and then designate it as an unattended setup profile.

  1. Open the Web interface, and then select (in the menu on the left side) OS Deployment > Profiles. Your screen should look like Figure 14.
    Figure 14. The System profiles page
    The System profiles page
  2. Here you can see existing profiles, if any, and options to create new profiles and/or CDs, or import/export from/to RAD. Because you're creating a new unattended setup profile, click New profile. You should see the screen shown in Figure 15.
    Figure 15. Select type of profile
    Select type of profile
  3. Select Unattended setup, which is basically a scripted installation that won't require any user input. Click Next, which brings you to the following screen:
    Figure 16. Select operating system type
    Select operating system type

Because Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 is a Linux OS, select Linux system profile shown in Figure 15. Next, configure more about the Linux system profile you're creating.

Configuring a Linux unattended setup profile

After selecting Linux system profile, you can configure the sizes of the swap, root and boot partitions, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17. Allocating hard disk space for partitions
Allocating hard disk space for partitions

This is where familiarity with installing Linux systems comes in handy. If you're not sure what to do, get assistance from your friendly neighborhood Linux administrator. This tutorial uses 1024MB for swap space, 100% disk space for root using the ExtFS file system, and 256MB for the /boot partition. Clicking next brings you to the next screen, as shown in Figure 18.

Figure 18. Where can the Linux CDs be found?
Where can the Linux CDs be found?

By choosing 100% as the root partition size, rather than a specific number of MB, you ensure that the deployment can be successful even if the disk drive is smaller than you anticipated.

The simplest way to provide access to the RHEL4 CDs is to use the CD-ROM drive on the Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment server.

  1. Select On your local computer and click Next. You should see the screen shown in Figure 19.
    Figure 19. What drive can the Linux CDs be found in?
    What drive can the Linux CDs be found in?
  2. Enter which drive the Linux CDs can be found in, in this case E:\. In the next section you'll configure the installation with respect to RHEL4.

Configuring RHEL4

  1. After choosing the drive for the Linux CDs, place disk one into your CD drive, and click Next. The system searches the CDs to detect which operating system is contained therein, as shown in Figure 20.
    Figure 20. Searching the CD
    Searching the CD
  2. When Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment finds an OS it can deploy, it alerts you, as shown in Figure 21.
    Figure 21. Operating system found
    Operating system found
  3. With the correct operating system found, you can now begin configuring it. The purpose of generating an unattended profile is essentially to answer, up front, any questions the installer would normally ask you in the course of installing the operating system you're going to deploy.

    For example, the first screen, shown in Figure 22, asks you to choose the RHEL4 windowing system.

    Figure 22. Choosing a Windowing system
    Choosing a Windowing system

    Every Linux environment needs a windowing system, and every Linux user has their favorite. For this tutorial KDE has been chosen as the desktop environment.

  4. Click Next to continue, as shown in Figure 23.
    Figure 23. Choosing software packages to install
    Choosing software packages to install

    One advantage to using Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment is that you don't have to install absolutely everything -- but you can, if you like. Figure 23 shows available software packages you can add to the installation process.

  5. If you want everything installed, check all the boxes. This tutorial shows a minimal installation.
  6. Click Next to continue, as shown in Figure 24.
    Figure 24. Choosing a time zone
    Choosing a time zone
  7. Select your time zone and the appropriate language, and click Next.
  8. The next screen asks if you want to specify a custom configuration file, which enables you to set specific parameters for the installation. This tutorial doesn't use a custom configuration file, but if you wanted to this is where you would specify its location.
  9. Click Next to continue, as shown in Figure 25.
    Figure 25. Profile description and comment
    Profile description and comment

    In a real system, this profile would likely be one of many, so it's a good idea to make sure that your title is descriptive, or at least that the comment has enough information for you to know what machines and circumstances warrant using this particular profile.

  10. In this case, however, you won't need as much detail, you'll only be generating a single profile. Enter Linux RHEL4 Setup for the description and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 for the comment.

Now you're ready to generate the profile.

Generating the profile

  1. After entering an appropriate description and comment for the profile, click Next.
  2. The next several screens begin the disk image creation process by gathering all of the required packages from the installation CD(s). Eventually you'll see a screen asking for the location of the other packages needed to complete the profile, as shown in Figure 26.
    Figure 26. Insert another disk
    Insert another disk
  3. If the contents of the other CDs are in other disk drives, or mounted elsewhere on your hard drive, you can simply select the other location. It's more likely, though, that you'll have all five RHEL4 CDs. Insert them in succession until the profile is completely created. Depending on the software packages chosen earlier, you might now need all five CDs.
  4. When the profile is complete you'll see the screen shown in Figure 27.
    Figure 27. Unattended setup profile complete!
    Unattended setup profile complete!
  5. When the system has finished generating the profile, go back to the Profiles page. You should see your new profile in the list, as shown in Figure 28.
    Figure 28. Seeing your new profile
    Seeing your new profile

Now you have a profile ready to deploy. You'll see that next.


Deploy the profile

In the previous section, you created an unattended profile, a list of instructions and the image they created, which you can use to deploy the operating system to a remote host. In fact, you can use to deploy that operating system to multiple hosts. It's time to see how that works.

Determining the target host

Before you can deploy this profile to install RHEL4 on the target machine, you will need to verify two things. First, confirm that there is a host defined for the target machine. The host tells Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment where to find the target machine. To confirm that you have designated a host:

  1. Click Host Monitor under OS Deployment (see Figure 29).
    Figure 29. Host Monitor
    Host Monitor
  2. Check the host to make sure the MAC address and IP address fields have entries.
  3. Verify that the host is configured by double-clicking on the host to open the Host details page.
  4. Confirm that the following fields are present: host name, product key, user full name and organization, an administrator password, and workgroup or domain name.

Deploying an unattended profile

It's time to deploy the unattended profile. To start the process:

  1. Open the Contextual actions menu by clicking the Default node shown in Figure 30.
    Figure 30. Contextual actions menu
    Contextual actions menu
  2. Click Deploy to open the Start deployment screen shown in Figure 31.
    Figure 31. Selecting the RHEL profile
    Selecting the RHEL profile
  3. Leave step 1 as it is, because you're not using a custom deployment scheme. In step 2 select the profile that you just created. Unless you're deploying additional software packages, leave step 3 alone as well.
  4. Click OK to kick off the Deployment process on the target machine shown in Figure 32. After you click OK, the system knows where to install the new operating system. When you turn on the target machine, Tivoli installs RHEL4 on it. If you look closely, you can see the Anaconda installation screens flashing by on the Tivoli console (as shown next in Figures 32-38), and when it finishes, you will have a complete RHEL installation on your target machine.
    Figure 32. Copying operating system files
    Copying operating system files
  5. Because all of the tough decisions were made in the process of creating the profile, the first step here is to copy the files to the target machine. When Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment is finished copying files, it starts the installation process as shown in Figure 33.
    Figure 33. Starting system installation on the target machine
    Starting system installation on the target machine
  6. Part of the installation process is to start the Linux installer, Anaconda, shown in Figure 34.
    Figure 34. The Linux installer started on the target client
    The Linux installer started on the target client
  7. Anaconda can then install the operating system as specified in the profile. When it's done, it reboots the machine (see Figure 35).
    Figure 35. Linux is loaded in the target computer
    Linux is loaded in the target computer
  8. Finally, the installation requires a second reboot as shown in Figure 36:
    Figure 36. The last reboot
    The last reboot
  9. If something goes wrong, click the Tivoli button, which enables you to show error or upload logs to track down the problem shown in Figure 37.
    Figure 37. Checking installation logs
    Checking installation logs

If all goes well, you'll see a message, shown in Figure 38:

Figure 38. Successful deployment message
Successful deployment message

The target machine is now ready to use. You can also use this profile to install RHEL4 to any compatible machine.


Clone an existing machine

All of this might seem like a lot of work to preinstall a single machine, and perhaps it is. But the real strength of Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment can involve the simplicity of an alternate method, cloning an existing system.

Cloning a machine

When you clone an existing machine, you copy the operating system, the operating system settings and drivers, and all of the installed software and data files from a source machine to a target machine.

There are four steps in the cloning process:

  1. Remove unwanted files from the source machine; remember, absolutely everything gets copied.
  2. Capture an image of the source machine and then store it on the Tivoli server to be deployed at a later time.
  3. Modify the profile for the captured image to match the characteristics of the target machine.
  4. Deploy the profile for the captured image to the target machine.

Cloning pros and cons

Cloning an existing machine certainly has some advantages over creating an unattended profile from scratch. For one thing, you don't need to know nearly as much about the system or the software that you're including; if it's on the source, it's going to the target. Also, you don't have to worry as much about configuration, assuming that everything works properly on the source machine.

On the other hand, cloning doesn't give you the control you get by creating a profile from scratch. Whatever decisions were made when the system was first installed (and who knows when that was?) are the decisions you're going to be stuck with.

But no matter which way you decide to go, there's no doubt that Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment can make your life easier when it comes to Operating System deployment.


Summary

Installing RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on any system can be a challenging task unless you're pretty familiar with it. Installing it on multiple machines is a process that almost has to be automated in order to be manageable, let alone efficient. In this tutorial, you learned how to use Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment to manage the installation process.

In addition to learning how to install Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment, you learned how to create an unattended setup profile, which creates an image you can use to deploy RHEL on one or more machines, and how to deploy it. You also learned about cloning an existing machine, and how it compares to creating an unattended profile.

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Zone=Tivoli (service management), Tivoli, Linux
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ArticleTitle=Deploy Red Hat across multiple computers using Tivoli Provisioning Manager for OS Deployment
publish-date=05222007