Friday, October 15, 2010

New Preload ISO build format

A common use case in Studio is the creation of hard drive images for preloading systems. This is great for setting up, say a computer lab or a server farm, where you want all systems to have the same software and configuration. It is also a step that system hardware vendors (OEMs/IHVs) often include in their production process.

SUSE Studio makes the creation of these images easy, but it's a bit more tricky to get them on to your target system. One way is to use a boot disk, like a Live CD/DVD or Live USB stick, and then dd the image to the target hard drive. This can be largely automated with a smart boot image (such as this) that can, with a bit of scripting and setup, automatically load the image from a server via the network and write it to the target drive (eg. dd over netcat). Unfortunately this does not work in networkless environments and may not be worth the effort if applied to just a couple of systems.

Fret not, for we have added the new Preload ISO build format to facilitate this process. A preload ISO is simply a Live CD/DVD that contains the preload hard disk image. When booted, it overwrites the target disk (after user confirmation), verifies the checksum, and then boots directly into the freshly loaded system. A word of warning - this format is meant for preloading and hence will overwrite all data on the target drive. Do not use this on your system unless you want to perform a clean installation! It is currently available for all base systems except SLE10.

Here's how it looks like in Testdrive. Choose the "Install/Restore" option when booting up:

There is a confirmation prompt before it overwrites the target drive:

If you have more than one disk available, you can choose it from the list:

We think this will be a very useful format for system admins, ISVs/IHVs, and other users that require preloading. For those who have been asking for this in Studio - we hear you, and now it's here!

48 comments:

  1. Very nice! Thanks for continuing to improve and your dedication to this project.

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    Replies
    1. The Preload formats are not suitable for dual booting. You would want a live image with the live installer for something more complex than what Preload installer provides.

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  2. And what to do, if instead of the problem of missing network, I dont have bootable CD/DVD drive? And from USB the machine doesn't boot ? What kind of image should I write into a partition? And how ?

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  3. @renszarv

    If the system you wish to build does not support USB Key booting nor USB FD/HDD emulation booting AND doesn't have a boot CD/DD drive and is without a Network ... How do you expect anyone to make a boot-able image without using the system's HD in another computer?

    Sounds like a job for Magic (or at least find a compatible system that has hardware very close if not similar to your target system and place the HD in the net-workable/CD/DVD boot-able system .. a little HD gyrations and you should have a reasonable facsimile of a system which when you take the HD out should work in the target system. :P

    Should work doesn't mean will work so YMMV ...

    Cheers! :)

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  4. This is what I was looking for ... thanks

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  5. This is a good feature. However it is creating a small partition for home directories /home/ and rest of the harddrive is consuemed by root directories. This is very difficult to work with assuming that we do not know what would be the disk size when appliance gets installed on. I would expect this appliance to create only one partision unless it is specified some place.

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  6. This is a great feature but it isn't available for SLE.

    However those of us using Novell Open Enterprise Server would really, really like this feature for SLES10SP3.

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  7. Documentation on where the installation script ends up, so that we can tailor it in test drive (different partitioning, etc) would be a good addon to this - it's a great feature that we've eagerly been awaiting.

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  8. Very good!I am developing ellinux via suse studio and I will sharw a preload iso soon!

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  9. One thins is worse. On a harddisk [ e.g. 150 GB ] you'll build one root partition with 140X GB, one swap and one /home partition which is ever to small for working so I've to remove it from with a little shelltool.
    Is it possible to change this, I think it's enough to build / and swap???

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  10. I've serveral questions to you.
    Is it possible to remove the /home partition. It's to small and nobody need such a smlaa prtition. Now I have to remove /home via a shellscript and that's not good.
    How does your prebuild iso works? Is it possible to modify your startskript, which copies all thinks to the new hd?

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  11. I''ve some questions to you.
    Does preload iso let me load third party drivers before proceeding?
    I have a LSI Megaraid SAS controller that must have driver loaded before my hard disks could be identified by various linux installer, so is it possible?
    thanks for your answer.

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  12. The same problem. When installed on old machine with 40Gb HDD, got less than 0.5Gb /home partition. Something is wrong in automatic partition strategy.
    It will be great if partition strategy could be controlled somehow. For example, by definition of recommended percentage and absolute minimum/maximum root partition size.

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  13. It would be great if this was supported in SLE 10. Heck, even live iso support would be great in SLE 10. Having to use kiwi for anything OES/SLE 10 related is painful compared to Studio.

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  14. Never change a running model. Now the preload image works bad because I cann't use it for my user. ( Until now an installation was very easy, but now it is to complicated )
    Never get an answer from my questions above????

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  15. How is it possible to load the preload iso image on to a usb stick. Tried with dd_rescue appliance.iso /dev/sdb. But it dosen't boot. I have also tried with grub2 and booted the iso from there but it says it cannot find the livecd a bit down in the boot process.

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  16. @renszarv: You can use PXE boot, which is unfortunately only available in Studio Onsite at the moment. If you have more than one disk in the target system, you can also boot from one of them and then dd over netcat to write the image to the other. Then boot from that.

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  17. @Paul Rock: It is available in SLE 11, but not SLE 10 at the moment.

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  18. @J. Mischke: The change wasn't intentional -- it is now fixed. Apologies for the breakage and confusion.

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  19. @Troels: Preload ISO is only targeted for CD/DVD. It will not work on USB sticks.

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  20. This is a great feature. But several modern notebooks don't have CD/DVD ROM drives. Do you plan to add the ability to write and boot the Preload iso from a USB stick?

    Thanks

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  21. @greenMan: Not at the moment, though that's possible down the road. For now you could use dd over netcat.

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  22. I have made a config script for kiwi so I can make a preload image and write it to a usb stick. I don't think this is the place to analyze it further so if someone needs this information please contact me. In fact the only thing you have to do is to alter the type of the image at the config.xml downloaded from the suse studio and then build the image your own using kiwi. At least this is the way it worked for me.

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  23. Vagelis,

    I'm very interested in how you did that. Please elaborate :-)

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  24. Didn't work for me. I didn't work in the virtual machine.

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  25. I apologize for the delay but I just received the email alerts from this thread. The basic difference from the script downloaded from suse studio is the following:

    type image="oem" filesystem="ext4" format="usb" boot="oemboot/suse-11.3" installstick="true"
    I hope I helped.

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  26. Can preload ISO split disc to same partition? For example partiton / 15 Gb, swap 4 GB and /home max.

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  27. Really nice feature - thanks a lot.

    Would be awesome if changes made during testdrive could be applied to the pre-load ISO image.. is that planned?

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  28. @Anonymous: You can work with testdrive on another image format and when you are done build the preload ISO.

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  29. Hi
    If i use preload iso in susestudio it wont install on my notebook. After transfer of the image is says that the checksum is incorrect. Think it's because it cant partition the disk as intended. My image i 5GB install disk and the notbook has 120GB...

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  30. booting with a usb cdrom stops at grub prompt... why?

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  31. honestly I don't see what's good about this preloaded iso. It's much better in my opinion to be able to partition and install to partitions that I choose, with the size the I want (as long as install fits). If I have 10 partitions on a disk and multiboot different distros can I choose the partition? to install grub or not? on MBR or root partition? If not, it's very limiting in relation to live DVD. Pity it crashed during install...
    darman

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  32. Booting with a USB CDROM stops at grub prompt. Also, connecting an LED/LCD monitor throws an:
    Out of range
    53.7khz/85hz
    when it tries to boot up (right after the grub screen vanishes off). I am using SLES 11 SP1 with base, X11 and gnome patterns. The size of the iso is 1.4GB. Any workarounds or hints to fix this would be greatly appreciated.

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  33. Hi Veerapuram, please try using an appliance based on SLES 11 SP2 instead. It has newer kernel and drivers so it's more likely to work on your system.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, James. I can definitely give it a try. Meanwhile, will it be possible to provide a workaround for the monitor issue? As the media has been delivered to a remote location and its unlikely that they will be able to get another media delivered within time.

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    2. This looks related to the hardware, so there's not much I can do remotely without knowing more details. You could try to build a Live USB stick with openSUSE 12.2 and boot up from that, then manually DD the image on in the Preload ISO to the target disk.

      If you need more help, let's move the discussion to the Studio forum (http://susestudio.com/forum) so that others on there can help or learn from this discussion.

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  34. You rocks people with all the work you´re doing here i´m glad to use Linux because the liberty it offers but you put this to the next level letting us choose what we want for our personal computers. Keep doing good things.

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  35. Was wondering if you have multiple disk and you select multiple disks how will the preload work?

    i.e. will use the 2nd disk for swap vs /dev/sda2

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  36. When installing on my second hard drive, it says my drive has no memory. Ive tried formatting, adding a partition, and completely deleting the volume and nothing works to make it say the hard drive has space. Any help?

    SUSE Studio User Support Forums: http://susestudio.com/forum
    Username: Mythfury

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  37. I have the same problem as Christopher,
    I have 2 physical hard drives, when I choose one - it says
    "not enough space for image". Its a 240GB drive...so this is clearly nonsense...I also get an error from GRUB when it first starts.

    Only way I can install is to remove 2nd HD, install SUSE then re-attach 2nd drive. However this means the dual boot cannot work...so this is very bad.

    Some help please !

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  38. Out of curiosity, any idea when PXE image formats are coming to the susestudio.com site?

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, but we don't have that in our current plans for susestudio.com.

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  39. susestudio.com ..when i enters this this wont go inside..it says no page found.is there domain is changed .i have half way in my os priject help me or i have downloaded the source file of about 17 mb.plese tell me how to built that locally..

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  40. susestudio.com. website not found when i entered this in my brower it says page not found,is there any change in domain.i have half way in my os project.and i downloaded the base source file of about 17 mb.pls tell me how to built that locally pls help me god will bless you.

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    Replies
    1. Our data center had a massive connectivity failure. Follow https://twitter.com/susestudio for status updates.

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