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Old 09-19-2008, 06:17 PM
Alex Tang
 
Default Questions about loader and other early anaconda startup stuffs

Hi folks.



I maintain a distro (CentOS-4.x based) that uses anaconda as its
installer with a kickstart file.* I'm trying to stay as close to stock
centos as possible, so the version of anaconda in CentOS-4. is
10.1.1.81.*



the distro is DVD based, since pxe is not an option (too much
infrastructure required, i'm not in control of all of the machines,
etc).* The kickstart file is located on the DVD, and pretty simple...it
sets up the disk, rpms to install, and sets "text" mode. That's pretty
much it.



I've had sporadic problems in the past (centos-4.5 base and earlier)
that have become consistent in centos-4.7 base with booting the install
DVD on certain hardware platforms with USB DVD drives.*



I've poked at anaconda a handful of times, but haven't gotten very deep
in it.* I've also been reading the anaconda docs for a long time (since
there was a twiki at rau.homedns.org), however i still don't know my
way around too much, so please excuse my ignorance as it becomes
apparent.



On systems with USB DVD drives where the install works correctly (Dell
R200s), i see the following:


the intial isolinux screen comes up
i hit return (or let the timeout lapse)
the text scrolls down the screen (i'm assuming this is the boot
process about to kickoff the stage1/loader environment)
the "blue screen" shows that says "welcome to centos".*


a grey box appears in the middle of the blue screen saying it's
loading the usb-storage driver
more disk drivers are loaded
the install continues successfully

On systems with USB DVD drives where the install fails (Supermicro 1U
PDSMi amongst others), i see the following:


the intial isolinux screen comes up
i hit return (or let the timeout lapse)
the text scrolls down the screen


the "blue screen" shows that says "welcome to centos".*


the first grey box specifying loading a driver IS NOT the
usb-storage driver, it's one of the disk drivers.
more disk drivers are loaded
(note the usb-storage driver is never loaded)
i am dropped to a dialog box asking for language.* At this point,
i am hosed.* the install has gone down the manual path. If i go to the
"alt-f3" terminal, i see a message saying that there was no CD found,
and thus could not load the kickstart file

Just to make sure it wasn't something i was doing in my distro, I've
also tried a stock centos-4.5 and stock centos-4.7 dvds burned straight
from the isos off of the mirrors.* I've seen the same symptoms.* the
4.5 dvd works fine using text or graphical manual install.* The 4.7 dvd
gets past the loader, but doesn't load the usb-storage driver, and thus
bails out of the install (asking for language).



note that if you go through the prompts, select "Local CDROM" for the
installation type, and force it to load the "usb-storage" driver, it
will continue.* But again, this doesn't help me and my kickstart
situation.



>From reading the current wiki, what i >think< is going on is that
the stage1 kudzu isn't seeing the usb devices properly (or in time),
and isn't loading the usb-storage driver. This probably has to do with
various vendor implementations of usb busses and usb peripherals, since
i've also seen certain peripherals that always cause this same issue
even on motherboards that nromally work).



Is this assessment correct?* Does anyone have any suggestions?



One thing i've been thinking about trying is to figure out a way to
force kudzu to force the usb-storage driver to always load.* However,
i'm not sure how to do that, partially, because i don't know much about
kudzu, and also because i don't know how to rebuild the stage1 image.*
The wiki page at:
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Anaconda/Stage1DevelopmentGuide talks
about the stage 1 environment but not how to modify/build it.* Docs
that talk about building distros always assume that the stage1 portion
is working, so they don't discuss the loader.



Sorry for the long post, i wanted to be as explicit as possible about
what i'm seeing.* If anyone has any suggestions, it'd be greatly
appreciated. I'm pretty much at my wits end about what to do now.



Thanks very much.



...alex...





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Old 09-22-2008, 11:36 PM
Matthew Richards
 
Default Questions about loader and other early anaconda startup stuffs

Hi Alex,

I am in the process of re-spinning CentOS 5.2 and have experienced the same
symptoms as you, i.e. "note that if you go through the prompts, select "Local
CDROM" for the installation type, and force it to load the "usb-storage"
driver, it will continue". As you have suggested, this does not fit in with the
whole unattended install paradigm :-)

My solution was to include my kickstart file(s) in the initrd image that is
loaded by the bootloader upon startup. This has the advantage of making the
kickstart file(s) available to Anaconda without requiring the CD/DVD to be
mounted at the time.

I assume that in order to automate selection of the kickstart file you have
customised your bootloader (ISOLinux) config and added an argument to the
append option similar to "ks=cdrom:/ks.cfg".

You will need to change this to let Anaconda know where to find the kickstart
file once you have added it to the initrd image. I suggest you add your
kickstart file(s) to the /tmp directory in the initrd. The corresponding
bootloader option will be "ks=file:/tmp/ks.cfg". Check the Advanced
Installation and Deployment section of the RedHat Installation Guide for a
complete list of ks= arguments.

How you actually add the kickstart files to the initrd image depends upon how
the initrd image is crafted in CentOS 4.7 and how you are re-spinning your DVD.
I choose to manually extract, modify and repackage the initrd image rather than
using Anaconda buildinstall, although I plan to move over in the future. The
process I use is is based upon the one used in buildinstall anyway:

(The initrd.img exists in the /isolinux directory of DVD)

# Preparations

cp ks.cfg /tmp/
cp initrd.img /tmp/
cd /tmp
mkdir /tmp/initrd

# Extract Initrd

gzip -dc initrd.img | ( cd /tmp/initrd ; cpio -idumv )

# Make my customisations

cp /tmp/ks.cfg /tmp/initrd/tmp/

# Rebuild initrd

cd /tmp
mv initrd.img old-initrd.img
( cd /tmp/initrd ; find . | cpio -ovc ) | gzip -9 > initrd.img

... now just copy the new initrd image /tmp/initrd.img back to your buildtree
and rebuild your DVD ISO image.

If you have any problems you should be able to verify the correct CPIO options
and exact initrd build procedure by installing anaconda-runtime and going
through the /usr/lib/anaconda-runtime/buildinstall script.

Hope this helps.

Matt

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