[lug] distro versions of kickstart

Alan Robertson alanr at unix.sh
Sat Aug 3 15:31:55 MDT 2002

D. Stimits wrote:
> Alan Robertson wrote:
>> D. Stimits wrote:
>>> I was wondering, how many distributions have something similar to 
>>> Redhat's kickstart? Of those distributions, how many have good 
>>> interfaces for designing installs?
>> SuSE does (alice).  I expect other RH-clone distros also do.
>> There's also the System Installation Suite (SIS) which works for ALL 
>> distros.  So, once you learn it, you can use the same method for all.
>> Basically with it, you set up a "golden image" using the normal distro 
>> tools, and then tell SIS to capture it.  It then can modify it 
>> somewhat to fix network data, disk types, and a few other things.  
>> It's not a filesystem image, but a tar image, so things like size of 
>> disk, etc. are irrelevant.
> So to use SIS, you would basically create an actual install, and then 
> dump it's configuration? It sounds like it is an "adaptive cloning" 
> device (extraction by example, with knowledge of indivdiual distro quirks).
> Kickstart seems to be more of a straight script to semi-automate by 
> meta-specification, rather than using an existing install (in fact, this 
> seems to be one minor weakness, I can't dump a kickstart config from a 
> running system...it creates a kickstart image of a new install right at 
> the finish of the install, but can't take into account system changes 
> over time). The gui tool for kickstart is even dumber, it won't allow 
> you to pick individual packages, and once you exit the program, you 
> can't load an existing kickstart file to edit.
> Alice sounds like probably it is very close to kickstart. I can't 
> imagine Mandrake doesn't have something (and probably python based). Do 
> you happen to have a feel for how popular Alice and SIS are, and who 
> uses them most?

Alice works for SuSE, and is supported by SuSE.  You might ask Anas Nashif 
about it (I'm not sure if he still works on it, but he knows it pretty 
well).  nashif at suse.de

SIS was originally written for cluster installs.  It is supported by folks 
in my department at IBM.  It can also handle updates, and ongoing 
maintenance, which is nice.  If you want more info on SIS, check their 
project site on sourceforge, or drop an email to Sean Dague 
(sldague at us.ibm.com).  They get the machine up, and then tar over the image. 
  The only thing you'd have to worry about would be getting the initial 
install image to recognize whatever filesystem you had in mind...

It isn't *quite* as simple as that, but that's not a half-bad explanation 
;-)  If you've ever installed windows systems using something like Norton 
Ghost, the idea is somewhat similar.  I've CCed Sean, so he can correct me 
if he needs to ;-)

You can update an system, capture a new image, and then update all the other 
machines which were based on that image.  That seems pretty nice.

As to how many people use either, I really don't know.  SIS is part of the 
OSCAR project, which is the most popular free cluster installer on Linux.

	-- Alan Robertson
	   alanr at unix.sh

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