Managing RPM-Based Systems with Kickstart and Yum

Q. Ethan McCallum

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Beijing • Cambridge • Farnham • Köln • Sebastopol • Tokyo

March 12, 2007


Managing multiple Red Hat-based systems can be easy—with the right tools. The yum package manager and the Kickstart installation utility are full of power and potential for automatic installation, customization, and updates. Here’s what you need to know to take control of your systems.

Manual Versus Automated

Why Kickstart and Yum?

Kickstart and yum are tools to automate installation, updates, and upgrades of Linux systems. Specifically, they operate on RPM-based Linux variants, such as the Red Hat Linux line (including the Enterprise and Fedora branches) and CentOS. Both tools have a learning curve and require some infrastructure for you to use them to their fullest extent.

As with any tool, it’s fair to ask, “What can it do for me? Why would I take the time to learn it?” My inspiration was, well, installing Fedora Core several times. To see what I mean, consider some of the information you enter when you install a Red Hat operating system (OS) by hand:

  • Choose your install type (initial install or upgrade).

  • Carve out your disk structure.

  • Configure networking.

  • Define a basic firewall.

  • Choose time zone.

  • Set the root password.

  • Configure the boot loader.

  • Choose which software to install (use the predefined groups or ...

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