This post covers the questions and answers during the March 2020 Smart Management and Satellite Ask Me Anything (AMA) calls. 

For anyone not familiar, the Smart Management AMAs are an "ask me anything" (AMA) style event where we invite Red Hat customers to bring all of their questions about Red Hat Smart Management and Satellite, drop them in the chat, and members of the product team answers as many of them live as we can during the AMA and we then follow up with a blog post detailing the questions and answers.

The ground rules of the AMA are:

  • In the interest of making everyone feel like they can truly ask any question, the Smart Management AMA sessions are not recorded. 

  • The Smart Management AMA is not the appropriate place to ask questions about specific support cases or specific sales issues. While we may be able to give generic feedback about certain areas we cannot use this time to troubleshoot or dig into logs. For your support cases please continue to work with Red Hat support, and for any sales issues please work with your Red Hat or Partner sales rep.

  • The AMA is presented using Blue Jeans Prime. All questions are asked via the Q&A panel which allows other attendees to vote on questions that are asked. Questions are read by an event moderator based on the popularity of the questions and answered live and in real time.

As we kicked off the Smart Management AMAs we pointed out a few important items happening in the Satellite area:

  • Satellite 6.7 Beta was available and closes with the release of Satellite 6.7.

  • Satellite 5.8 EOL is May 31, 2020. At that point all Satellite 5 versions will be EOL and you will need to transition to Satellite 6.

  • For more information about Satellite check out the latest version of the Satellite Frequently Asked Questions.

Since the AMA we announced the release of Satellite 6.7. Check out the Smart Management and Satellite 6.7 blog for full details of all the features offered in the latest release.

The next Red Hat Smart Management AMA is planned for June 17, 2020 at 11am EDT (GMT -4): Please register for the AMA and bring your questions about Red Hat Satellite

Here are questions and answers (lightly edited for readability, grammar, spelling, etc.) from the March 12, 2020 Red Hat Satellite Ask Me Anything.

Question: What are the plans with High Availability (HA) and/or Disaster Recovery (DR)? (not  hypervisor tools, or snapshots)

Answer: The guidance today for HA with Satellite is to virtualize the Satellite and use hypervisor tools which will give you 3-5 nines capability without any major configuration needed. 

A future release of Satellite will move to Pulp 3 and will allow us to remove MondoDB, getting to a single database. This will help with any plans towards a HA/DR solution of the Satellite. As of Satellite 6.4 we have support for load balancing of the Capsule Servers.

Question: Satellite is able to run Ansible jobs, but it is unclear on how it is supposed to be used. Why is Ansible Tower being suggested over remote execution with Ansible from Satellite? We currently have no need for the extra capabilities of Tower.

Answer: Ansible in Satellite is intended for operations on a single host whereas Tower, included with the Ansible Automation Platform subscription, is intended for enterprise orchestration.

Question: My understanding is that Host Groups should primarily be used for provisioning, whereas Host Collections should primarily be used for post-provisioning management. But Ansible roles can only be attached to Host Groups.

Has there been any plans to allow roles to attach to Host Collections?

Answer: No plans at this time, but what you can do today is set up a Remote EXecution (REX) job that can run the playbook against host collections.

Question: Is it possible to customize the columns on the Host page? 

Answer: At this time this is not possible, but would be a good candidate for an RFE. Please open a support case with details on what you would like to customize.

Question: Pooling and Distribution on Capsules. We have several different locations with different numbers of capsules. Is there a possibility to get an even distribution of deployed clients automatically according to some rules?

Answer: If you have a bunch of capsules in a single datacenter, then load balanced Capsule Servers may help. 

Question: Are there plans to get Ansible Playbooks to deploy in content views?  Will we get the same level of managing parameters with Ansible as we have with Puppet parameters?

Answer: There are currently no plans to add playbooks to content views. Ansible Tower, included with the Ansible Automation Platform, may be a better option depending on your goals.

Question: Is there a way to set a default start screen when logging into the Satellite 6.6 GUI?  For me, it defaults to the Content Hosts tab. With over 7,000 hosts, it takes a minute or two before I can do anything.

Answer: If you bookmark a page to help make this a better experience. The default page should be the All Hosts page. The Content Host page might have been the last page you were on before the session expired.

Question: Is there a possibility to mirror the PostgreSQL database on the Satellite host?

Answer: Currently we have no plans of mirroring the postgres DB inside of Satellite. This may be considered in a future release - please open a RFE with your use case if you would like to help this get prioritized.

Today we do support external databases with Satellite, though this configuration is generally recommended only with 30K or greater clients.

Question: We originally set up our load balanced capsules in Satellite 6.4.x using "lazy_redirect_host" and now I have found this is deprecated in Satellite 6.5 and above. Is stuff like this ever covered in the release notes?

Answer: When load balanced capsules were originally implemented in Satellite 6.4, this was a workaround and is no longer needed. 

Question: Inheritance of Foreman Parameters with Nested Host Groups is not working as expected. We create nested hostgroups and not all the inherited values during the creation of a new hostgroup have the value "Inherited from parent" afterwards.

Answer: The parameters should be inherited all the way across - please open a support case so we can gather more info.

Question: when will using a "host collection" as an Ansible group be supported?

Answer: You can do this today - Use the satellite or foreman inventory plug-in to create Ansible groups or host collections. Please give this a try and let us know if it meets your need

Question: When I provision a new machine (Hosts menu --> Create Host), why can I not specify an Activation Key so my new host is automatically subscribed and have Yum repositories enabled? It appears the only way is to assign a key to a Host Group and use the group when provisioning the host.

Answer: Host group should be used as a blueprint to build and provision new hosts. Activation Keys (AK) are hostgroups parameters which are inherited by the host when using a host group.

If you are not using a host group to provision the host, create a parameter with the key kt_activation_keys it should work as expected.

Question: Does Red Hat have any plans for an Advanced Satellite 6 class?  If not, can any or all of you suggest they add one?

Answer: For official training courses, today we have:

RH053 - Red Hat Satellite Technical Overview 

RH403 - Red Hat Satellite 6 Administration (which was updated December of 2019 to use Satellite 6.6). 

We have requested and will continue to request an additional advanced course.

Question: I've not seen the notes from the last Satellite AMA, have they been posted somewhere?

Answer: You can find them on the Satellite Blog

Here are the previous two entries:

Red Hat Satellite Ask Me Anything Q&A from January 15, 2020 

Red Hat Satellite Ask Me Anything Q&A from October 31, 2019

Question: Are there any official ansible roles/ playbooks for managing Satellite (health check,  install etc.)

Answer: The Ansible-Foreman modules have this capability and are available in the upstream now. It is expected that these will be included in a future version of Satellite (after Satellite 6.7).

Question: My Satellite takes 30 minutes to publish one content view that contains only five Red Hat repositories. Is that normal?  My Satellite is a virtual 6 single-core Nehalem i7-class machine with 20 GB of memory.

Answer: It is worth noting that 20GB is the minimum today, so you may want to increase the memory allocated to the VM. That might help. A few things go into Content View (CV) publish times, and some repos take longer than others.

You could separate out the repos into multiple CVs, then combine them using a Composite Content View (CCV).The amount of hosts and capsules also may affect the publish times.

In the future when Satellite moves to Pulp 3, we expect these types of operations will be much faster due to the technology change not being as dependent on disk and disk speed. Newer releases of Satellite are also more performant than some of the older versions.

Finally, you may want to review the tuning guide for Satellite

Question: How is usage of Simple Content Access different between 6.5 and 6.6 (and future versions)?

Answer: If you are not familiar with simple content access, it is a “set of capabilities that enables a change in the way Red Hat manages its subscription and entitlement enforcement model. With simple content access, the enforcement model changes from a per-system requirement, where you must attach a subscription to a system before you can access content, to a per-organization requirement that is based on your Red Hat Satellite deployment, where you can access content on a system without attaching a subscription to that system.

In its simplest form, simple content access provides unlimited access to any content for which you have at least one subscription.”

As we move from a model where you are required to attach a subscription to a model where you are not, there are a few places in the product where we need to improve the experience. Moving to Satellite 6.6 we can identify things like if the subscription status is disabled (as opposed to unknown in earlier versions) and a reason why it is disabled.

Eventually some features like auto-attach may be turned off as they might no longer be needed. 

Question: Are there plans to automate provisioning and configuration of capsules?

Answer: For a future release we are working on using satellite-maintain to upgrade capsules.

We're also working on options on how to better automate the upgrade of your capsule estate.

Question: We are running 6.6.1 and also experience performance issues while promoting a couple puppet classes.

Answer: We would need additional information about the issue in order to be able to give guidance. Please open a support case where they can review and collect information.

Question: When will Satellite include a newer version of PostgreSQL which supports better parallelism?

Answer: In an upcoming release of Satellite (after Satellite 6.7) we are planning on upgrading to PostgresSQL 12.

Question: Which upcoming version of Satellite can we anticipate installing to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8? 

Answer: Satellite will run on RHEL 7 for the lifecycle of Satellite 6. Starting with Satellite 7 we plan to run Satellite only on RHEL 8.

Question: Is it possible to change the Theme colour of the Satellite 6 GUI?

Answer: No, this is not possible. You can create a customized login text.

Question: What is the recommended process for updating Satellite content on a disconnected Satellite server on an isolated network since Incremental Satellite Content ISOs are not available from Red Hat?

Answer: The best way would be to install a connected Satellite and configure Inter-Satellite-Sync between your disconnected and connected Satellites for a complete import/export mechanism between them.

Join us for the next AMAs

The next Red Hat Satellite AMA is planned for June 11, 2020 at 11 am EDT (GMT -4). Register for the AMA todayPlease join us and bring any questions about Satellite that you might have. We look forward to hearing from you!