Ask Shadowman

February 2003

Some people call him the space cowboy, some call him the gangster of love, but they've got it all wrong. He's only got one name. Like Mxyzptlk or Snuffalupagus. He's fast, he's furious, he is... The Shadowman, and he's back to let you know, he can really shake 'em down.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.

Ionel G. jumped up, jumped up, and got down, then asked:
I'm 15 identical machines and i will install RH7.3 (the same configuration) Tell me please how to automate the installation?

Shadowman says:
Well, good to meet all 15 of you. You're gonna want to use kickstart for that. You can install and configure one machine, and use it to make your kickstart file, and serve the installation files. Once you've gone through the first install, run:

mkkickstart --nfs machine1:/export/distro > ks.cfg
Where machine one, is the name (or IP) you can use for this machine, and /export/distro, is the tree you want to share. Let's use that one, shall we?
mkdir /export
mkdir /export/distro
And copy in each of the binary disks from RedHat down, Insert CD1:
mount /mnt/cdrom
cp -var /mnt/cdrom/RedHat /export/distro/
Same for CD2.

Now edit /etc/export, adding a line like:
/export/distro *(ro)
/sbin/service nfs reload
Now the server is ready and you have your base kickstart file ready to go. Use a blank floppy, and take the bootnet.img file from the images directory of CD1. Insert the floppy and:
cat bootnet.img > /dev/fd0
Look at your ks.cfg, the look at the documentation for any kickstart craftiness you wish to add, and copy the ks.cfg to the floppy. Insert the floppy in your next machine and type:
    boot: linux ks=floppy
At the boot prompt. And voila! Magic happens. By the 15th machine, it you should have all the kinks worked out.

Rob S. awoke from 20 years slumber to find a long white beard and this question:
I am the administrator of a windows 2000 network. All the servers and clients are windows 2000. I have purchased a copy of red hat 8.0 and would like to place this on the network as a client. I have no experience of linux whatsoever and would like to find a simple walkthrough from start to finish on how to accomplish this, if it is possible.

Shadowman says:
Shadowman is going to make an ass out of u and me and fill in some gaps. Let's assume that you are running DHCP. Let's assume you are using Windows as the primary domain controller. Go ahead and do an everything install of 8.0, it saves time picking packages, but takes longer to install, and eats more disk space. This is from Shadowman's assumption that you are independently wealthy and are flush with free time and disk space.

Once installed, boot up. Double click the home directory on your desktop and type smb:// in the location field and hit enter. If all went well you should see some Windows machines. If all went really well you'll see the new Linux box on your Network Neighborhood from Windows. There are of course other things to do, most of which are documented in mind numbing detail at The Linux Documentation Project ( or, if you prefer print, grab Running Linux by O'Reilly and Associates.

I know this was intended as a client, but since you did an everything install, unplug all of the Windows 2000 servers. You're free! Now go and help the others.

In short:

To Craig S., who had something strange happen last December, Shadowman says: Add 'search default.domain' to the top of your /etc/resolv.conf file/

To Joe B., who can't start X because ther are 'no screens found', Shadowman says: Don't worry, it happens to a lot of guys. Try running 'redhat-config-xfree86' and experiment with resolutions.

To John Z., who has RPM 3 v.4 issues, Shadowman says: After installing the latest version of RPM try 'rpm –rebuilddb', it should work fine. If not, get the source and try 'rpmbuild –rebuild program.src.rpm'

To Christopher T., who lost his index page, Shadowman says: /var/www/html is where you'll want your real content to go.

To Gayatri V., who is seeking the source, Shadowman says: The source, is with you, always. But on a more pragmatic note, you can find it on the source CD, or in the SRPMS directory of the release you are using from ftp.

And To Don P., who wants to uninstall and reinstall 7.2, Shadowman says: just run the installer again and select upgrade (even though you're not upgrading), it will fix all that's wrong in your case, without changing the install itself.