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kickstart file cannot be found during a network installation

Posted on 2007-11-29
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Last Modified: 2013-12-15
Hi,
I'm trying to kickstart install several Red Hat Enterprise Server 5 on several computers--their configuration is identical.
I have set up the RHES5 installation tree by copying the contents of an ES5 DVD (made from an ISO file) into an NFS installation directory, in this case /distrib/RH51ES.
I then ran the system-config-netboot utility to set up PXE booting.  The PXE booting itself goes fine and the installation proceeds until I choose the correct network interface.  The install continues a bit after that and then pops up an error message: "Unable to download the kickstart file.  Please modify the kickstart parameter below..."  The line below is usually filled with "garbage" such as !H##<CC><CC><CC> ...etc.  This can be erased and a new parameter entered, so I've tried "ks.cfg",  "/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg"  "nfs:192.168.0.116:/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg" and other variants which didn't work...  
Here is the /etc/dhcpd.conf file that is used:

# DHCP Server Configuration file.
#   see /usr/share/doc/dhcp*/dhcpd.conf.sample  
#
ddns-update-style interim;
subnet 192.168.0.0 netmask 255.255.255.0 {
  option subnet-mask 255.255.255.0;
  option broadcast-address 192.168.0.255;
  option domain-name-servers 192.168.0.242;

  group {
          # option vendor-class-identifier "PXEClient";
          next-server 192.168.0.116;
          filename "linux-install/pxelinux.0";
        #  filename "/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg";
          host bcc30 {
                hardware ethernet 00:0E:0C:AB:AE:2C;
                fixed-address 192.168.0.30;
                #option host-name "bcc30";
                filename "/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg";
          }
        }
}
# End
Some of these lines may be incorrect or meaningless--I'm trying a number of things to try to get this working!
I've tried putting the ks.cfg file into the installation directory and also into the /tftpboot directory with no results.

I'd appreciate any practical experience anyone has had doing network kickstart installs or with this particular error.

Thank you!
Don P.
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Question by:donpar
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by:
arrkerr1024 earned 500 total points
ID: 20382207
You don't specify the name of the kickstart file in the dhcp configuration, you specify the name of the loader.  The pxelinux.0 is then going to look for a number of standard file names, your ip address converted to hex, and then finally one called "default".  Try just using "default' for starters, but change to the converted IP later so that you can have different KS files for different machines.

When you ran the pxe wizard I think it should have asked you the name of the kickstart file too...?
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by:arrkerr1024
arrkerr1024 earned 500 total points
ID: 20382237
If you actually got the installed booted up on the client you SHOULD have been able to enter nfs:192.168.0.116:/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg for your kickstart location though, unless there were problems with NFS or with your network on the client machine.

One tip: instead of using NFS you can use http.  I do this because 1) its almost easier, and probably a lot more secure, and 2) because apache has nice log files.  If  you throw your kickstart and installation tree on an http site you can tail the access and error logs and if you have a typo somewhere you can still see the machine trying to access a file, etc.  Its made my life troubleshooting a LOT easier.
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by:donpar
ID: 20384376
Thank you for your rapid response!

I will try your "default" suggestion first.  Yes, when I ran the system-config-netboot, it did prompt for the ks file name.  Don't have the server available at the moment, so don't remember exactly what my entry was.  Probably something like "/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg"

Yes, it could be something about the NFS configuration, but successfully mounted the NFS share on another system with no problem.  I did specify the nfs:192.168.0.116:/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg when the kickstart file location was prompted but it still couldn't find the ks file.

If NFS just will not work, I'll do the http method; had not considered that http will be a lot easier to troubleshoot--that is a good suggestion...

I'll post again when I have some results...

Thanks again,

Don P.

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Author Closing Comment

by:donpar
ID: 31411852
Actually BOTH of the comments put me on the right track and the PXE/Kickstart installation completed successfully!

The dhcpd.conf file worked as configured in the question, although I did remove the commented out lines.
What really solved the issue was entering the correct URL for the kickstart file in the system-config-netboot configurator.  The entry here needed to be:  "nfs:129.197.0.116:/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg".  This entry was placed in a config file in the /tftpboot tree which had a file name equivalent to the MAC address of the client being installed.

A note: strangely, the "nfs:129.197.0.116:/distrib/RH51ES/ks.cfg" entry did not work when I was prompted for the kickstart file during installation.

In any case, thank you!

Don P.
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