Tips & Tricks
Featured Article: Kickstart Basics

Performing a Kickstart Installation

Kickstart can use a local CD-ROM, a local hard drive, NFS, FTP, or HTTP to perform a Red Hat Linux installation. Kickstart uses the ks.cfg configuration file, which can be located on a local boot drive or the local network.

Typically, the ks.cfg file is stored on a bootable MS-DOS diskette. Otherwise, your computer must be able to boot off the network and find the configuration via the network. The network-based process is more difficult to perform and we concentrate on using a floppy diskette-based system in this appendix.

Using Kickstart over a network

Network-based Kickstart installations are more difficult to implement than the floppy-based ones. However, network-based Kickstart installations offer advantages. Once configured, a network-based system offers better automation features than the floppy method. Rather than building different floppies for different installation options, the process is made easier when using a network.

You need a BOOTP or DHCP server on your private network to perform a network-based Kickstart installation. The BOOTP or DHCP server provides the installation client with its IP address so that it can communicate on the network; network connectivity is, of course, essential if the computer is to receive the Kickstart configuration. Please see Appendix D for instructions on configuring a DHCP server.

The Kickstart client needs to NFS mount the directory on the Kickstart server that contains the ks.cfg file. For instance, following is the default DHCP server configured by Red Hat Linux:

filename "/usr/new-machine/kickstart/";

The server contains the directory /usr/new-machine/kickstart where the Kickstart configuration file is stored. The client mounts that directory and proceeds to download and use the ks.cfg file. Once loaded, the client installs the Red Hat packages specified from the server's configuration file.

For more information about performing network-based Kickstart installations, please consult the documents in the Kickstart directory stored at

Creating a Kickstart Configuration File

A simple-text file, the Kickstart file contains a list of the elements, identified by a key word, used to create a Red Hat Linux computer. Some elements are optional, others are required. You can omit optional elements from the ks.cfg file; however, you must manually enter the omitted information during the installation process.

The elements have the following form:

<command section> <any combination of %pre, %post, %packages> <installclass>

Comments are allowed. Each comment line must begin with the pound -- # -- sign.

Kickstart can control upgrades. Please consult the Kickstart documentation for information about performing upgrades.

The Kickstart file is divided into three sections:

  • Commands
  • Package list
  • Scripts

The Kickstart file has the following form, an order you must maintain:

<kickstart commands>
<package list>
<post script>

The following listing shows the beginning of a sample ks.cfg file, based on the server chivas we used in this book:

lang en_US

#network --bootproto static --ip --netmask --gateway 10.0


device ethernet ne2k-pci

keyboard "us"

zerombr yes
clearpart --linux
part swap --size 94
part /home --size 8014

mouse genericps/2

timezone America/Denver

Get more information on this, and what to do once it's installed in Red Hat Linux Internet Server from Red Hat Press.