How Do You Perform a Kickstart Installation?

Kickstart installations can only be performed using a local CD-ROM, a local hard drive, or NFS installation methods. FTP and HTTP installations cannot be automated using kickstart mode.

To use kickstart mode, you must first create a kickstart file (ks.cfg), and make it available to the Red Hat Linux installation program.

Where to Put A Kickstart File

A kickstart file must be placed in one of two locations:

Normally a kickstart file is copied to the boot disk, or made available on the network. The network-based approach is most commonly used, as most kickstart installations tend to be performed on networked computers.

Let's take a more in-depth look at where the kickstart file may be placed.

To perform a diskette-based kickstart installation, the kickstart file must be named ks.cfg, and reside in the boot disk's top-level directory. Note that the Red Hat Linux boot disks are in MS-DOS format, making it easy to copy the kickstart file under Linux using the mcopy command:

mcopy ks.cfg a:

(or, if you insist, you can also use Windows). You can also mount the MS-DOS boot disk and cp the file over. Although there's no technological requirement for it, most diskette-based kickstart installations install Red Hat Linux from a local CD-ROM.

Network installations using kickstart are quite common, because system administrators can easily automate the installation on many networked computers quickly and painlessly. In general, the approach most commonly used is for the administrator to have both a BOOTP/DHCP server and an NFS server on the local network. The BOOTP/DHCP server is used to give the client system its networking information, while the actual files used during the installation are served by the NFS server. Often, these two servers run on the same physical machine, but there is no requirement for this.

To do a network-based kickstart installation, you must have a BOOTP/DHCP server on your network, and it must include configuration information for the machine on which you are attempting to install Red Hat Linux. The BOOTP/DHCP server will be used to give the client its networking information as well as the location of the kickstart file.

If a kickstart file is specified by the BOOTP/DHCP server, the client system will attempt an NFS mount of the file's path, and will copy the specified file to the client, using it as the kickstart file. The exact settings required vary depending on the BOOTP/DHCP server you use.

Here's an example of a line from the dhcpd.conf file for the DHCP server shipped with Red Hat Linux:

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

Note that you should use filename for the kickstart file's name (or the directory in which the kickstart file resides) and next-server to set the NFS server name.

If the filename returned by the BOOTP/DHCP server ends with a slash ("/"), then it is interpreted as a path only. In this case, the client system mounts that path using NFS, and searches for a specially-named file. The filename the client searches for is:


The <ip-addr> section of the filename should be replaced with the client's IP address in dotted decimal notation. For example, the filename for a computer with an IP address of would be

Note that if you don't specify a server name, then the client system will attempt to use the server that answered the BOOTP/DHCP request as its NFS server. If you don't specify a path or filename, the client system will try to mount /kickstart from the BOOTP/DHCP server, and will try to find the kickstart file using the same <ip-addr>-kickstart filename as described above.