Deploying Operating Systems Using Cobbler - PXE Boot

Cobbler is a Linux installation server that allows for rapid setup of network installation environments. It glues together and automates many associated Linux tasks so you do not have to hop between many various commands and applications when deploying new systems, and, in some cases, changing existing ones. Cobbler can help with provisioning, managing DNS and DHCP, package updates, power management, configuration management orchestration, and much more.

Here in my example, my machine name is cobbler and its IP is and its running CentOS 6.5 x86_64 version

1) For simplicity and testing purposes, disable SELinux
[root@cobbler ~]# vim /etc/sysconfig/selinux

2) Reboot your system after applying SELinux Changes

3) Install the EPEL Repo for Cobbler Packages
[root@cobbler ~]# rpm -ivh

4) Install the following packages
[root@cobbler ~]# yum install dhcp cobbler pykickstart mod_python tftp -y

5) Enable xinetd tftp and rsync services
[root@cobbler ~]# vim /etc/xinetd.d/tftp
disable = no                    <- Change this line to "no"

[root@cobbler ~]# vim /etc/xinetd.d/rsync
disable = no                    <- Change this line to "no"

6) Start the xinetd, httpd, cobbler services and start the necessary at boot time
[root@cobbler ~]# for i in xinetd httpd cobblerd; do service $i restart; chkconfig $i on; done;
[root@cobbler ~]# chkconfig tftp on 
[root@cobbler ~]# chkconfig rsync on

7) Download the network boot-loaders for cobbler
[root@cobbler ~]# cobbler get-loaders

8) Change the default template of the dhcp file included with cobbler to match your network
[root@cobbler ~]# cp /etc/cobbler/dhcp.template /etc/cobbler/
[root@cobbler ~]# vim /etc/cobbler/dhcp.template
allow booting;
allow bootp;
ignore client-updates;
set vendorclass = option vendor-class-identifier;
option pxe-system-type code 93 = unsigned integer 16;
subnet netmask {
     option routers   ;
     option subnet-mask;
     range dynamic-bootp;
     default-lease-time         21600;
     max-lease-time             43200;
     next-server      ;
     class "pxeclients" {
          match if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 9) = "PXEClient";
          if option pxe-system-type = 00:02 {
                  filename "ia64/elilo.efi";
          } else if option pxe-system-type = 00:06 {
                  filename "grub/grub-x86.efi";
          } else if option pxe-system-type = 00:07 {
                  filename "grub/grub-x86_64.efi";
          } else {
                  filename "pxelinux.0";

9) Change the cobbler setting file according to the below

[root@cobbler ~]# vim /etc/cobbler/settings
manage_dhcp: 1


10) Mount your CentOS 6.5 DVD to a mount point, here I am mounting on /mnt
[root@cobbler ~]# mount /dev/sr0 /mnt

11) Import the Distro details into cobbler using the below command (It takes time to copy the distro data into /var/www/cobbler/. So be patient)
[root@cobbler ~]# cobbler import --path=/mnt --name=CentOS_6.5_x86_64

12) Copy the default anaconda-ks.cfg to the default location of cobbler kickstart files
[root@cobbler ~]# cp anaconda-ks.cfg /var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts/centos65.ks

13) Modify the centos65.ks file to the following or according to your requirement
[root@cobbler ~]# vim /var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts/centos65.ks
url --url
lang en_US.UTF-8

keyboard us
network --onboot yes --device eth0 --bootproto dhcp --noipv6
rootpw  --iscrypted $6$4t6CgzQlwQKVFUEb$.mWJx35kMLobSabwpoKzlVpTvmTjxapy5GjSJdWkWANgV9J0SE4tm/oYMQjOYFdAyp5FgpevxXmzyy5/3xcHS.
firewall --service=ssh
authconfig --enableshadow --passalgo=sha512
selinux --enforcing
timezone Asia/Kolkata
bootloader --location=mbr --driveorder=sda --append="crashkernel=auto rhgb quiet"

clearpart --linux --drives=sda
repo --name="CentOS"  --baseurl=cdrom:sr0 --cost=100
%packages --nobase

14) Add the distro information to the cobbler for PXE Boot
[root@cobbler ~]# cobbler distro add --name=CentOS_6.5_x86_64 --kernel=/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/CentOS_6.5_x86_64/isolinux/vmlinuz --initrd=/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/CentOS_6.5_x86_64/isolinux/initrd.img 

15) Add the kickstart profile to the distro
[root@cobbler ~]# cobbler profile add --name=CentOS_6.5_KS --distro=CentOS_6.5_x86_64 --kickstart=/var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts/centos65.ks

16) Restart and synchronize the changes that were made into cobbler
[root@cobbler ~]# service cobblerd restart
[root@cobbler ~]# cobbler sync

17) Configure the firewall to allow ports 80 (HTTP) and 69 (TFTP) 
[root@cobbler ~]# iptables -I INPUT -p tcp -s -d --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
[root@cobbler ~]# iptables -I INPUT -p udp -s -d --dport 69 -j ACCEPT
[root@cobbler ~]# service iptables save

18) Restart the below services once again to make sure all the changes are applied to the services
[root@cobbler ~]# for i in xinetd httpd cobblerd; do service $i restart; chkconfig $i on; done;

19) Boot a new linux machine and make sure it boots via Network and at the menu prompt select the CentOS_6.5_KS option


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